Since the morning after her arrival, Angelina busied herself searching in the local register office, libraries, maritime archives, as well as consulting telephone books, and post offices, in the hope of finding answers in locating any Accana’s descendents left behind in this city by those emigrants that had left in the past days of 1902.
The first week was frustrating and gone in vain searches. Angelina felt the stress of the long hours in such monotonous work. She didn’t lose her hopes and kept working with determination,
“Someone, somewhere in those dark offices will hold the key of my rebus, -She thought- and my patience will finally trace the path leading in the right direction. I won’t give up, I want to be a Sicilian like the others living in this city, and … yes I will prove it, not doubt about it.”
Even her second week didn’t return any successful results. But luckily in one of the public offices she went she was directed to search in the police archives.
The clerk in charge told her, “Those records go back two centuries. With luck and patience, you may find clues of the persons you want to know. We have different files and classifications.
“You’ll find the missing person records as well a list of people that have been wanted by the courts and possibly have belonged to the Mafia. There is also a list of people who had been terrorized by the mob. These lists are potentially good leads for your searches. That office might prove to be the place where you could find your missing clues.”
She found the office in the basement of the Palazzo di Giustizia, one of the old major office buildings standing in the city for the past two centuries.
At the counter Angelina explained to the clerk the reasons for her visit and she was told, together with a smile, quite an auspicious answer.
“Si, Signorina, we have a person who can help you. He is a lawyer who has an office in the city, but he also comes here for researches inherent to his work.”
“His name is Dottor Franco Marchese. If you wish, I can arrange an appointment to see him next week.”
Angelina met Franco Marchese at the time prearranged. She found that the lawyer looked different from the many other Sicilians. He was tall and handsome, with curly blond hair and sparkling blue eyes, and always had a friendly smile for his customer.
“Certainly, a Norman’s descendant” she thought. “He isn’t the typical short, dark Sicilian.”
After the preliminary introductions Franco asked
“Bene signorina, what can I do for you?”
“Well Dot. Franco, first of all please excuse my Italian but I live in the States. From some research I made there, I believe I’m a Sicilian, and that my grand parents emigrated from Palermo in early 1902. I came to Sicily hoping to find more proofs about the roots of my family and if I have any relatives still living in Sicily. During my search over the last couple of weeks I found how hard this task is for me alone. Could you please help me?”
“Certainly, Signorina, I’ll be please to help, but it won’t be that easy. A century has elapsed since that day your grandfather left Sicily. It is a long time, but there is no harm to try. You need to know that going through the old documents of the past takes time but I will try my best. Please leave a phone number where I can reach you.
“Within a week I’ll be able to let you know how much success I have had.”
The conversation was sealed with a cordial handshake between the two young people.
With a bright smile Franco concluded, “I hope to see you soon Angelina, with good news. By the way, welcome to our Sicilian land.”
The following Friday Franco phoned Angelina,
“Buonasera Signorina, I’ve started searching through some documents of the time but so far I haven’t been able to find any references about your family.”
“Thank you, Signor Franco, I hope you are not wasting too much of your precious time on this matter.” replied Angelina
Franco continued “I also have another reason to call you. Talking with you the other day I understood that you don’t have any friends on the island. I have arranged a party for next Sunday with some friends of mine and I thought this could be a good opportunity for you to meet some real Sicilians. Would you like to come to the party at my place?”
It was a surprise to Angelina, who enthusiastically replied,
“How can I thank you Franco?”
“Fine Angelina, if you agree I’ll pick you up Sunday at 10.00 A.M. Goodbye for now.”
Franco had recently inherited his father’ property. By tradition and the Sicilian laws, the first male son inherits the bulk of the possessions, and at the same time receives the reverential ‘Don’ in front of his name, as a form of traditional respect by locals to the head of an important family.
By calling him ‘Don Franco’, it was the clear acknowledgement that he was the master of the Marchesi’s family.
Franco’s property was on a hill, from which dominated the Conca d’Oro, the magnificent Bay in the Tyrrhenian Sea, commanding the turquoise waters fronting Palermo.
The old Villa Patronale, the master’s house, was a masterpiece in architecture that had been built in the late 18thcentury, presenting the majesty of that decadent époque.
The luxurious residence was adorned with labyrinth intricate gardens that were so much in vogue over the past two centuries in the aristocratic villas across the Mediterranean.
From where the garden finished the orchard plantation began producing the best quality oranges, the Sanguinelli, named for their likeness to their blood color, when ripe.
The orchard was followed by the almond plantations well visible in the distance, with the trees covered with perfumed flowers that in the season emanated a sweet perfume in the air and donated such pleasantness to the eye in the incipient spring season.
Servants had set tables under the pergola, where lunch was served with an abundance of sea food, sword-fish and tuna, bathed with an excellent white wine to the enjoyment of the many guest together for the occasion. They were mostly young people coming from the best local families. Time passed in an enjoyable way with the company sharing good wine and food and having fun, listening to some hilarious stories, narrated with brio gossiping about some well-known locals, and those anecdotes raised laughs echoing around the group.
The evening was certainly a success which warmed later with more drinks and giggles. The party reached the apex at the moment when a mandolin appeared in the hands of one of them, and it was tuned into the inebriant Sicilian folklore music. Songs echoed to complement the mandolin’s music that portrayed their Sicilian life.
The culmination of the festivity was reached; music and songs warmed the guests’ spirits and some of them danced to the Tarantellas tunes through the night.
That was an appreciative introduction to the Sicilian life for Angelina. Simple but it deeply touched her soul. She found herself in a completely different world from the one she was used to, only just a short time ago in Florida. She found this wasn’t the frenetic Americans lifestyle she was used to, but a more relaxing one, and where time seemed of no importance.
She told Franco who sat next to her,
‘I’m grateful to you, Franco. I knew now why I had to come back to my grandfather’s land. Here tonight I found the reason and I know I can also call this country home.”
End part Three