Bisnonna Francesca… a companion post to the previous on Bisnonno Domenico. Likewise, I didn’t get to meet her yet each photo has a little to reveal and brings the past somewhat closer in that moment. A rare photo, circa 1930 (bottom right) shows Francesca in Palmi, Calabria with her mother, Soccorsa, the baker and her daughter (Nanna Francesca). The three who lived together for years after Domenico was in Australia. And then (top left), just Francesca and her daughter, soon to leave to join him in 1934. She and her mother had worked hard to help raise the ship fares, determined as she was to be reunited.
I long for a photo of Francesca in her Applethorpe kitchen, cooking at the wood-fired stove, but sadly there are none. Often, I find her standing a little way behind in photos or to the side so it’s nice to see her front and centre (top right) with family and friends happy at harvest time.
For, by the photo of her and Domenico, it wasn’t long before he died, she becoming a widow at only forty-six. Sadly, their orchards were sold and she moved to her own house in the city – Teneriffe, Brisbane (bottom centre) but missed the farm and her life in Stanthorpe. At a picnic day with friends and family (top centre), still wearing her dark, mourning clothes, again Francesca stands to the back, as in many photos. Dad told me she remained heartbroken at losing Domenico and it truly must have affected her heart for she died just over a couple of years later, aged only 50.
My truly favourite photo of her is one of happiness (centre). She stands in her orchards and it seems light is falling upon her. To me, what’s most beautiful is her bare feet. My great-uncle, Vincenzo tells me his mum was always walking barefoot in the orchards and I love this so much. Her feet on the ground, feeling the earth. For someone who worked her entire life from a very young age and with no holidays, thankfully it seems there were these small moments of beauty in the everyday. 💛
Companion post –
Clues in black and white… Domenico
3 responses to “Inklings of the past…”
I continue to appreciate receiving your posts (having read all your books).
Given your family’s connection to L’Aquila, not sure if you have seen this news: https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2022-08/pope-francis-italy-laquila-madonna-images-visit.html
All the best,
That’s really lovely to hear – thank you!
I hadn’t heard about the Pope’s visit to L’Aquila, thanks for the link. Hopefully it will bring attention to the earthquake victims of the area, many of who remain in temporary housing 13 years on from the 2009 quake.
I don’t know if you recall that I wrote in Mezza Italiana about 28th August being the one day of the year that many visit, Santa Maria di Collemaggio in L’Aquila (the day the Pope has chosen to visit according to the article). On this date every year, Pope Celestine V’s remains are placed at the entrance to the cathedral and it’s said if you pass by him, all your sins for the year are absolved in an instant. (When Nonno Anni and Nanna Francesca went, Nonno Anni told me with a twinkle in his eye that it appeared a lot of businessmen made the pilgrimage that day – smiling.)
Best wishes, Zoe x
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