Traveling to Italy with Ricky, Ricky, Ricky

8 Sep


Yes, I know. It’s a strange title for a blog about my journey to the land of my roots, but I promise the title will make sense before you’re done reading this blog. My mother and her siblings were born and raised in Benevento Italy. My mother never made it back there to visit, and neither did my Uncle Mario or Aunt Anna…but that all changed this year. My uncle, who is a spry ninety-one-years-old man, decided that it was now or never if he were to see the house that he was born in. His son, daughter-in-law, granddaughter and I went with him…but we weren’t alone. We took a few ghosts with us. What’s it like for a psychic to reconnect with her history? Grab your passport and meet me after the jump.


Aunt Rose, Mario’s wife was afraid to fly. She told my uncle that he’d have to wait until she died to go to Italy. There is one important thing that you need to know about the dead. Although they may have dreaded traveling while alive, they become quite the global jetsetter when dead. Aunt Rose was no different. She was definitely with us on that airplane and she was definitely responsible for Uncle Mario’s lost luggage. It was her way of reminding my uncle that she was watching over him and that maybe it was time for him to buy some new clothing…vintage only looks good on the young.


I knew my mother, Lucy, was with me on that flight and while we rode to the Domus Traiani where we would spend a few days. The Lucy I speak of is the famous Lucy from my upcoming book, Life with Fred and Lucy: The Two Ghosts in my Attic. Mom was eager for me to experience seeing her birthplace with her spirit at my side.


My cousins Ricky and Aubrey made all the arrangements for the trip. We wanted to plan our own itinerary instead of going through a travel agent. The plans were for us to spend a few days in Benevento before heading to Amalfi. We were hoping to get inside the home that Uncle Mario, Mom and Aunt Anna called home. The Bed & Breakfast that we stayed at while in Benevento was not only comfortable and fabulous, but reasonably priced. My poor uncle was frazzled, as could be expected, after learning that his luggage was missing. A frantic call to the airport in Naples did not reassure him that his bag would ever be found. We had as yet not met with the owner of the Domus Traiani, but would in a most comical way the next day.

Ricky, Ricky, Ricky

I most likely need to do a second and maybe third addition to this particular blog because there was so much going on. Uncle Mario, after Aunt Rose passed away, became increasingly dependent on his children and granddaughter Aubrey, but it was his son, Ricky, who bore the brunt of Mario’s coping with the lost luggage and adjustment to the overseas vacation.


None of the ladies, Joann (Rick’s wife), Aubrey or me could do anything right. Uncle Mario only knew one name to call on: Ricky, Ricky, Ricky. After only a few days, I began to call my cousin…Saint Enrico (his real name). The suitcase that was lost only held a few items of clothing, Mario’s batteries for his hearing aid, a razor, and binoculars…but as the days passed, the items that my uncle claimed were in that bag grew by leaps and bounds until that suitcase was the size of a steamer trunk.


I have heard my mother talk about her house in Benevento from the time I was a small child. I knew that house inside and out from her many descriptions. I knew about the stable on the side of the house that held the horses for the carriage rides. I knew that my mother and her family lived on the top floor while an uncle and his family lived on the first floor. My mother often spoke about the beautiful church right up the road from her. The church was the Basilica Madonna delle Grazie. I knew that right after my maternal grandmother moved her three children to America to live with her husband who had already been living there, the house was bombed. It was during the second war. My mother’s family on the first floor had not survived the bombing. It was later, not sure when, the house was rebuilt.


Uncle Mario was so excited to see the home, but we had all hoped that we would be able to get one of the tenants to answer the doorbell and allow us to see what the upstairs part of the home looked like now. We did not succeed in this goal. While my uncle spoke to the owner of a nearby bakery, I did my psychic thing and touched one of the outside walls of the home. Since my mother’s spirit was with me, I’d hope to pick up some residue of her connection to the home. Unfortunately, all I could see was rubble. Was the land on which the house trying to show me its memory of the bombing. I felt instead of heard my mother saying, “It’s too late.”


After speaking with several older neighbors who did remember our family, but did not know where we could find or contact them, we headed over to the Basilica Madonna delle Grazie. It is a beautiful church and we were fortunate enough to meet with an elderly priest who gave us the history of the town and its people.

Domus Traiani

As I said earlier, the bed and breakfast that we stayed in while in Benevento was beyond expectations. The rooms were spacious and comfy and the view from our window looked out on the little street that led to the main road. Our first night there, we decided to wash the clothes Uncle Mario wore on the flight over and also for our day excursion. Uncle Mario was not happy about wearing Ricky’s jogging pants or Joanne’s night shirt as pajamas, but we were still hoping for a miracle finding of the suitcase.


My cousin Joanne was excited to try out the new washing machine that was located in the huge bathroom. “It washes, dries and irons the clothes,” she exclaimed with joy. Mind you, we all looked at that washer and saw the same directions she did. We were desperate to get Uncle Mario’s cleaned for the next day so we did a wash and added a few of our own articles.


We washed those clothes ten times, but the washer refused to go into drying and ironing mode. In frustration, we hung the clothes anywhere we could to get them to dry before the next day’s adventure. We were worried that we’d somehow messed up the machine. That morning the owner of the Domus Traiani, Ady stopped by to bring more food for our stay. Ady stocked our refrigerator up with the most tasty and healthy of foods, drinks and cheeses. When she’s learned about my uncle’s dilemma with his suitcase, she quickly called the airport and tried to track down the luggage. She even offered to drive Uncle Mario and Ricky to the airport, which was over an hour away, to personally search for the luggage.


While we had her there, we mentioned that we had a problem with the washing machine. She came into the bathroom and saw all the clothing hanging from windows. “Were the clothes clean to our liking,” she asked.


“Oh sure,” we replied, then added, “It took us ten washes and we still can’t get the dryer to work…we never did see how this machine ironed the clothes.”

You know that moment when you’ve realized that maybe; just maybe, you’ve said something completely ridiculous and outlandish. Well the surprised and puzzled look on Ady’s face said it all.

“Dry? Iron? This is not possible!” Ady exclaimed. This is just a washing machine.

After we’d all had a good laugh, Ady took my Uncle Mario shopping for new clothing and she continued to help search for that darn suitcase. We never did find it. Aunt Rose, and probably my mother, felt it was time for Uncle Mario to dress more fashionably. We did become good friends with the owner of the Domus Traiani and also with the café down the street that made the best damn cappuccino in the world.


Part two of the Italy trip will be posted in a few days and I will talk about our trip to Amalfi and Capri. If you are thinking of going to Naples or Benevento, I would strongly suggest you staying at the Domus Traiani…and if you find a suitcase filled with vintage clothing….keep it. Uncle Mario is looking mighty dapper in his new threads.

5 Responses to “Traveling to Italy with Ricky, Ricky, Ricky”

  1. Paula Coduti Leahy September 11, 2017 at 10:54 pm #

    Love that B and B. Adi is great .. I send everyone there!! Fun fun fun!!

    • gilbertspeaks September 12, 2017 at 12:33 pm #

      I am definitely planning on going back there. This time, I will see if Benevento’s Mayor can make arrangements for us to get inside the building where my mother was born and raised.

    • gilbertspeaks August 15, 2018 at 12:58 am #

      I intend to go back this year

  2. Victoria Marie Lees October 4, 2017 at 10:05 pm #

    My gosh, Marie, even the spirits won’t leave you alone when you’re trying to relax on vacation. I agree that spirits probably do more traveling after life. It’s surprising that your uncle would turn to Ricky instead of one of the ladies in his life. Oh darling! I’m so glad your Grandmother moved out of that home before it was bombed. That’s too funny about the washer. After listening to your washer commentary, I couldn’t figure how it would dry and iron either.


  1. Gilbert Speaks on Cruises | gilbertspeaks - October 24, 2019

    […] My first trip was with Starr Tours’ Leisurely Tour of Tuscany, and the second trip was to Benevento and Amalfi with my 92-year-old Uncle Mario and my cousins. The cruise was with Starr Tours, and I […]

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