Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Napoli to Ischia

As I boarded the ferryboat from Napoli to Lacco Ameno, Ischia, I was filled with excitement, as I embarked upon this mission that could potentially fill in all the pieces of the puzzle for me. I find myself here finally, leaving the majestic Mount Vesuvious behind me on the boat, and we get closer and closer to Lacco Ameno. This trip, I know in my heart, is going to be successful. I feel Lacco Ameno drawing me there...closer and the fishing villiage where my great grandfather was born. While on the ferry, I asked one of the ship's hands if I could go out on to the deck to take some photos and he allowed me to do it....but once I got out there, he came over and started to kiss me....I had to laugh! These Napolitans think they can get away with anything with a girl! I kindly asked him to lasciami and he obeyed. I had wrote to the Comune di Lacco Ameno (Lacco Ameno's town hall) several months ago from the U.S., before I knew his exact date of birth, because I couldn't even find his death certificate at that time, but from researching the records at Ellis Island I was able to guesstimate it to be 1863 - 1865. The problem is that there were almost 60 people with the name of Ciro Mazzella who immigrated from Ischia to New York City at the turn of the century. On Ischia this name is as common as John Smith. After writing twice to the Comune, I never received a response. So, I figured that I would just have to go there myself to find it in person. I had no idea whether I would find anything, and I never got my hopes up. In fact, with all of my research leading nowhere for such a long time, I would have been content just to visit Lacco Ameno, knowing in my heart from stories told within my family, that this is where Great Grandpa Mazzella was born. I had to see, touch and feel Lacco Ameno, where I know from my family that he was a pescatore (fisherman). I had hoped that the Anagrafe (person who keeps all birth and death documents) would have been able to research and find these documents, even though I only could provide a range of possible dates. But no response.

As luck or destiny would have it, the day before I left for Florence, I received in the mail, Ciro's death certificate from.......... It was signed by my grandfather. Was it fortune or fate? The day before I leave for Florence I have just what I need to find the original documents.

As the ferry approaced Lacco Ameno, I could feel my eyes swelling up and at once they broke into a burst of tears. There in front of me, on that gorgeous little moon-shaped white beach, was Lacco Ameno. It is 2.30 in the afternoon, and the City Hall was closed, so I took a walk around the town and looked for a room. I found a very nice hotel just a few blocks from the beach and the town hall. And that would be my first stop in the morning.