Thursday, October 12, 2017

Mombaruzzo, Italy: The Ancestral Home of Sandy Brucker

Thursday, October 12, 2017:

A huge travel /adventure day was in store for us on this glorious Thursday.

Our plans called for us to first part company with Mark and Susie Johnson for a few days before reuniting with them in Paris next Monday afternoon.

The Johnsons were taking our rental van for a quick exploration of the Provence region of France before returning to Paris on Friday.

As for Loren, Sandy, Laurie and I . . .

Up and At 'Em
Bright and Early!

We were showered, packed and ready to roll out of Lyon at 7:15 a.m. for our interesting day.

A short walk from our Lyon Airbnb led us to Lyon's great Metro system. In just a few short minutes we traversed the city on the Metro's Green and Blue lines to the Gare de Lyon Part-Dieu train station seen above.

After coffee and pastries in the station, we boarded a train bound for Torino, aka Turin, Italy. 

 In four fun filled hours,
our First Class ride got us safely
to Torino

Once in Torino on time at 12:24 p.m., we dashed for a taxi to take us to the Hertz Rental Agency in downtown Torino to pick up our vehicle.

I say "dashed" because the Hertz office closes daily from 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. for lunch and we wanted to be on our way without any further delay.

Our cab ride was only about ten minutes long and Hertz got us to our spacious Jeep quickly and efficiently.

We were now on the road to hillside village of Mombaruzzo, population approximately 1,000 souls, in Italy's northwest region of Asti-Piemonte about 90 minutes from Torino.

Why Mombaruzzo you ask?

Easy enough, Sandy's Nonno or Grandfather was born, raised and married in Mombaruzzo over 100 years ago now.

One of our main goals on this trip was to give her time to reconnect with her family's roots.

Did she ever!

We were close, only 4 more
kilometers up that hill


Our Airbnb for the night
in Mombaruzzo, the charming
The Casa Visconti Bed & Breakfast

Laurie at her sultry best

Some of the other guests
were a bit shy to converse

The Casa Visconti's dining area

We were extremely fortunate that Dionigi, the Casa Visconti's owner, is an AMAZING man.

When booking on Airbnb, the owners like to get a little information about the potential renters and the purpose of their stay.

I dutifully reported our intentions to help Sandy find out more about her Mombaruzzo family roots and boy did Dionigi take off!

The next morning, armed with the Family names of Sandy's Grandparents, Dionigi was at the Municipio or City Hall checking their records to find out who, if anybody, from her family still lived in the area.

Because of Dionigi's efforts, Sandy met . . .

. . . her cousin Luigi about
five minutes after we checked into
Casa Visconti!

Luigi still owns his family's home here in the village but uses it only as a vacation home, mostly in August. He currently lives in Genoa.

 Let the Genealogy discussions begin!

Sandy was ECSTATIC!

As was Luigi.

While Sandy and Luigi
were hard at work, I explored
the Casa Visconti's garden and
700 year old edifice

Great Gate!

Dionigi said that these were
sod cutting tools

I think.

Maybe he said that they were medieval torture tools, my Italian was a bit fuzzy.

Ancient, hand-made carts are

 Loren in a recently discovered
hidden wine cave or perhaps
refugee hideout not on any
of the Casa Visconti's blueprints

The Casa Visconti's real wine cave
for Dionigi's prized bottles

The bigger wine cave for
more average vintages

Sandy showed Luigi and Dionigi some old photos taken by her relatives on a 1984 trip to Mombaruzzo of the home where her Nonno was born.

By any chance did either of them know its location?


 Luigi and Sandy in front of
her Nonno's old home

 This gate may have been there
when her Nonno lived his early days

 Loren and Sandy
at Nonno's gate

Interesting structure as we
continued our walk around town

Laurie liked this cross atop a now
unconsecrated church

 View of the vineyards surrounding

One of Sandy's relatives,
Carlo Gagginno, was the
owner of this space with his
initials still on this gate

 These wine grape growing hills
are a UNESCO Heritage Site

As we were walking right along this point, a man walking his dog was approaching.

Who was this unknown, random Guido?

Why none other than Luigi and
Sandy's cousin Giorgio

Animated as only some Italians can get, the delightful Giorgio here is telling Sandy about the wonders of the 1984 visit from his American cousins, Sandy's Aunt Louise, cousins Betty and Helen and their spouses, that I mentioned previously.

He even showed us the $10 bill that he still treasures that they gave him when they visited 33 years ago. Giorgio said that he was also given a USA silver dollar that he still has at his home here in Mombaruzzo.

 Cool shutters

One of many Mombaruzzo
church towers

Sandy having the stroll of her
life talking family with Luigi

The view from Luigi's family
home's patio

Same view improved a bit

Luigi offered us wine and
we accepted

The Church Bells of Mombaruzzo

They ring throughout the night as well!

Laurie acting as a dodge for
this photo of men relaxing at a
Farmer's Social Club

At City Hall checking out the
Honor Roll of Mombaruzzo's
WWI & WWII dead

 Cousins at the Municipio

The City Crest of Mombaruzzo

What time is it?

 Laurie and Sandy
ready to head out from
Casa Visconti for dinner

 Sandy staring with gratitude plainly
on her face at Dionigi for all that
he did to get the family get-together rolling

Did I mention that he had contacted Luigi and Giorgio and had official copies of Sandy's Nonno and Nonni's wedding certificate among other cherished civil documents ready and waiting for her when we arrived?


Another church

The happy couple at
La Marlera Osteria for dinner

 GREAT cheese plate

With Cousin Luigi,


Laurie and I feasted on two out of this world dishes.

The first was a saffron rice with licorice powder dish and the second was a black truffle spaghetti dish that was simply incredible!

In a break from tradition, we actually shared them equally.

I think that the look on Sandy's
face is equal parts contentment
over what happened in Mombaruzzo
today and the richness of her ice cream

OK, truth be told, it was 97.3% about visiting the village, meeting Cousins Luigi and Giorgio and the great efforts that Dionigi took to make her feel welcomed!

But the ice cream was REALLY good too!

On Friday, we are off to enjoy Rome for the weekend.

Living La Dolce Vita!

Stay tuned . . .


CasaVisconti Mombaruzzo said...

grazie grande Giorgio Washington Contreras :)

itzbfitz said...

How wonderful for Sandy!