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Traveling From Rome to Southern Italy - Visiting Paolo, Acri, Sorrento, and Naples in One Week
We traveled from Rome to southern Italy, including Paolo and Acri, and then to Naples and Sorrento. The decision to go to Italy on a trip stemmed from my Grandmother, whose parents came to America from Italy as a young couple. We decided to create a trip where we began in Rome and travelled south to the town where my great-grandfather was born, Acri, with a few stops in-between.
We flew Aer Lingus, an Irish airline, from JFK in New York City to Rome, Italy with a 2-hour layover in Dublin. Most flights on Aer Lingus have a layover in Dublin, Ireland. This was where my passport was stamped even though this wasn’t my country of destination in Europe. If you want those stamps in your passport you’re going to need to visit a tourist office for the accompanying country to get them. Once you’re in Europe, you are free to travel whether by bus or train, which makes traveling around Europe simple and convenient.
As an Italian, visiting the country was an awe-inspiring experience that really opened my eyes to the culture and beauty of this boot-shaped country and its people. We landed in Rome and toured Italy from the Forum to the Coliseum. We visited the Trevi Fountain and the Piazza Navona. We took the train from Rome Termini for the 5-hour train ride south. The view on the train was breathtaking, with rolling mountains to the east of us and the coast to the west. It felt as if we were going back in time and coming upon the old Italy of generations past, and then we arrived in Paola. We arrived in Paola and enjoyed a day in this hillside town, enjoying the local cuisine in a mom and pop-type restaurant and people watching the locals of the town.
We then traveled away from the coast and headed to the small town of Acri. There is nothing historically significant here for a tourist but it was special for us. This was the town where my great grandfather was born and we were going to try and find his birth records and family information.
We made our way up winding roads until we arrived in Acri: a small town with little shops, butchers, jewelry stores and the like. To our amazement, my grandmother’s maiden name was on every other storefront down a random block we stumbled upon. We found a Curto jewelry store, Curto Butchers and a Curto Crib Store. We wandered into the jewelry store and my grandmother spoke in the best Italian that she could to explain her family name and its connection to the store’s name. It turned out we were speaking to the daughter of the owner, whose last name was Curto. We found a long lost cousin of my grandmother’s paternal side of her family. We smiled and chatted and traded e-mails. After we left, we strolled over to the Curto Butcher Shop where the children of the owner’s worked in the front. We believe they were telling us that their parents were out of town, but again, someone also related to our family on a distant family branch.
The hall of records in the Town Hall of Acri was our last stop. We found my great-grandfather’s signature in a book that held the birth record for her father. The people there were so kind and even offered to photo copy it for us as a keepsake. To this day it’s something cherished by my grandmother. Overall, it was an amazing experience off the beaten path. After visiting Paola and Acri, I swore to always try and find a town off the map when visiting a country in Europe to really take in the culture of that country and its people that reside there.
The rest of our trip consisted of visiting Sorrento, Naples and then back to Rome for a trip to Vatican City. It was a trip that I will never forget and that will always stay with me: learning about my family history, traveling off the beaten path to the southern hillside of Italy and seeing Europe for the first time with my family at my side.