I’ve always wanted a chance to chase my family history. I know I have family in Poland and Italy who I would love to visit. I’ve spent a bit of time with my family that lives in Paris, but most of that side of our family is in Campania, Italy. Over the years, with the help of Ancestry.com, a lot of research, and stories from my grandparents, I’ve learned a lot about my ancestor’s lives in Europe.
On my mother’s side is where I get the most information. I know our family comes primarily from Split, Croatia and Trieste and Treviso, in Italy. There’s also some lineage from the Czech Republic and other Eastern European countries, but as the decades pass, the specifics become more and more unclear. For the most part, my mother’s side is Italian and Croatian.
However, on my father’s side, we are German and old American. My father’s ancestors came from England to Chester, Pennsylvania in 1672. That’s O.G. American, right there. These are just Elena Fun Facts™.
This summer, my family and I will be road tripping in Italy and France. We’ll start in Nice, then travel all over Tuscany and the Côte d’Azur. It’s going to be two weeks of bonding, wine tasting, delicious food, museums, and adventure. I’m really looking forward to it.
At the end of July, my family and I will part ways. My oldest sister will return to Boston, my brother, younger sister, and parents, will fly from Nice to Amsterdam, and I will take a train to Trieste, which is across the sea from Venice. Now, I haven’t booked any of this, but it’s looking like this is what’s going to happen.
I’ll spend a few weeks in Trieste, where I will study Italian and stay with a host family. This will be the third city in Italy where I will have studied Italian. The first being Rome, the second being Sorrento. I think it’s important to study a language in different cities as you learn a variety of accents and dialects, which improves your listening comprehension tenfold and gives you the ability to communicate with a wide variety of sub-cultures.
While I’m in Trieste, my grandmother wants me to look through the records at a church or public records house to see if I can find any information on our family, last name Toffolo. Apparently, over there it is as common there as Johnson or Smith is in The U.S.
Since Ljubliana, the capital of Slovenia, is so close (being only an hour and a half long bus ride from Trieste) I’m hoping I can find a way to spend a weekend there for about $50. My grandmother also suggested that I go to Izola, a small town in Croatia that meets the Adriatic Sea. This is definitely a priority of mine, as it’s close to where my Croatian family is from.
Even though I will be alone in these cities, as I always am, I expect I’ll feel connected to them in ways that I haven’t always been. In the past, I’ve felt a strong attraction to Warsaw, Poland, and Zwiesel, a small town in deep Bavaria. Yet, somehow, I know this will feel different. Knowing that my ancestors walked the same streets that I will is going to be surreal. I hope this all works out. I look forward to my next adventure.