More Letters from Italy

More Letters from Italy

While on a recent trip home to celebrate the holidays (a belated celebration since my husband wasn’t home on December 25th), my mom found another stack of letters written in Italian to Nellie Gasparri, my first cousin, once removed. The way mom explained it, when Nellie died in 2007, the folks cleaning out her house found these letters, didn’t know what to do with them, and handed them off to my mom for safekeeping.  This is just one of the letters that I managed to translate.  My knowledge of Italian (where I was fluent about 10 years ago) has degenerated to about the level of a 5 year old, but I can manage a decent translation with the help of Google Translate and a dictionary.  The hardest part is reading the handwriting, misspellings and all, and working through the local phrases, grammar, etc that can vary WIDELY from town to town.  Fortunately, this is pretty close to the area where I studied abroad, so that makes it easier.

I added punctuation and paragraph spacing to make the letter easier to read in the translated version.  Interesting to note, Silvio Gasparri, the man to whom the letter is written, died 18 July 1944, two years before the letter was written.  Nellie, his daughter, had corresponded with one of Silvio’s sisters in Italy a number of times, but the earliest letter we have in that set is from 16 February 1947.  I suppose it’s possible that two years went by without any notification to family in Italy about Silvio’s death.  The overall tone of the letter is pretty sad – a mother wishing for news from her son, hoping that everything is okay, but wondering if something bad happened.

Click any image to open up a larger version.

Montebuono, November 3, 1946.

Dearest son,

It’s been a long time, even years, that I waited for news, but I always waited in vain.  I thought something has happened to you.  Until now I thought that maybe one day I would have had your news as we rejoin hands.  There is always news from other Italians in America, but I have always waited in vain.  Think, my son, on the great pain I suffer.  Think of my age that I’m 81 years old and have no hope of seeing you again before I die.  It could be a consolation to have news from you, comforting for me and for all.

I have written you twice after the end of the great holocaust of the war but I have had no response.  I am forced to make a search for you through the American President.

The situation in Italy is bad.  Life is very expensive such that if you don’t live anymore, you pay a lot.  Expensive and you don’t earn anything.  You believe that you need to go almost nude and drained, but who cares.  I would be happy only to hear from you.

Please write soon, my son, that you would lift a great sadness from my heart.  I hope that this letter reaches you and finds you and your family in good health.  I won’t even say that I’m well because age prevents it but it will make do.  Pietro and your family are well. I won’t say anything more for the moment.  I will write you more at length another time.  I give you a hug and a kiss.  You and my grandchildren should be great.

Now I sign, your affectionate mother,

Rosa Lombardi.



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  1. Pingback: Sepia Saturday 241: Writing and Letters | Sheetar

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