Through a very narrow tunnel (very, very narrow) and up a windy little road into the mountains above Domodossola, in Northern Italy, lies a little village called Cardezza.
Cardezza is the birthplace of my grandfather. It is also the birthplace of the family connections I, and all of my American family have with our Italian relatives.
Quite a few years ago, while on vacation, my Uncle Johnny and Aunt Jane were driving through Italy when they saw the sign for Cardezza.
He remembered my grandfather talking about his village and they decided to head up the mountain. When he got there, he found plenty of Solaros. Solaro is my grandfather’s family name and the connection between the American and Italian Solaros began.
It was that that also led us to the Contis, my grandmother’s family from Trontano. Trontano is another village just 20 minutes away by car.
The first time I went to Cardezza was about 12 years ago and there was a huge group of us. It was hard to really get to know people. This year and last, it was just Way and I. It really gave us the opportunity to talk, laugh, eat and enjoy the company.
This is what I wrote last year after our visit. Why I didn’t publish it, I’ll never know, but since we just visited again, I thought it was high time this article saw the light of day.
Our day started with my cousins Daniele and Lua (his daughter) coming to pick us up in Stresa. We had planned to rent a car and drive ourselves. But no, Daniele wouldn’t have it.
That is just the generous nature of my family. They welcome us, spoil us and treat us … well … like family. By the way, I call all my Italian relatives cousin, it’s just easier that way.
Lua and Gaia, (you guessed it, another cousin) took us about the town and we visited the cemetery – which seems to be on the standard tour when you visit a village.
While we were wandering, Daniele was getting ready to make us a bunch of pizzas from his hand-built, outdoor pizza oven. And by bunch, I mean at least 12 for the eight of us. Have I told you how much I love my family! A lot!
A fun afternoon of drink, food and plenty of laughs followed by a visit to the famed Casa Boc. Seriously, the house is a postcard in the making. Okay, so it’s only famed in our family circles, but I love this house, the lands and what it represents.
I would love nothing more than to buy it, restore it and have family filter in and out for the remainder of my days. I sort of have a secret love affair with this place.
The first step to turning that not so little dream into reality was to get Way’s buy-in!
Easy peasy! He fell in love with it (and all of Italy) for that matter. Who knows, maybe one day I will get to call Cardezza home.
I hated to leave Cardezza, but the island was waiting to console me. Thank you to Daniele for always welcoming us with a hot pizza oven, plenty of cold beer and open arms.
I am so glad Uncle Johnny made the turn and drove up the mountain that day. ❤️
If you want a postcard from Italy, now is the time!