about me Archives

May 31, 2007

about me

I grew up in Massachusetts and am a passionate passionate Red Sox fan. I am a preschool teacher living in Hawaii. I love taking photos, traveling to Italy, climbing towers, and blogging.

I enjoy the beach, the mountains, the warmth and the beauty of Hawaii. I also enjoy spending time on the internet checking out the latest on the Red Sox, Slow Travel Talk, and reading blogs.

My first trip to Italy was in 1999. The day I stepped on Italian soil, I was hooked! I travel mostly in the summer time because I am a cold weather wimp. While in Italy, I love to climb towers, take photographs, drink espresso every morning, eat fabulous Italian food, meet new people, and work on improving my Italian. I find myself walking much more while in Italy. It is a great way to take in the history, art, architecture, and beautiful scenery.

January 20, 2008

my visit to Montefalcione

My second trip to Italy, in the summer of 2000, included a visit to the Campania region. This is the region where Montefalcione and Lapio are located. My great-grandfather was born in Montefalcione and my great-grandmother was born in Lapio. My hope was to visit at least one of these two towns while staying in this region.

I met a friend who would be joining me on my Sorrento leg of my trip in Florence the day before we were to travel to Sorrento. We traveled by train the following day. After a day or two, we stopped at the tourist information booth where I inquired about directions and transportation options to get to Montefalcione. The man at the desk offered to take us if he would be going that way during the week while we were in Sorrento, and if not, he would try to find someone else to take us there. I was thrilled as I thought the only way to get to Montefalcione would be spending most of the day on trains and buses. That evening, he called me and said that his brother, Luigi, would be able take us the following day.

Luigi arrived at our hotel at 8am the following morning. After years and years of genealogy research, Wednesday, July 5th, 2000, would be the day I would finally step foot on the land of my great-grandfather's birthplace! I was a little nervous at first not knowing this man, but he turned out to be a very kind person. It took us about two hours to get to Montefalcione because part of the Salerno to Avellino autostrada was closed for construction. We had to take a long detour up and down a mountainside, stopping for directions a few times along the way. I know I would have never found it on my own. Montefalcione is located up high on a mountainside (monte=mountain). It seemed to me to be a pretty modern little town. We drove thru part of the town and then parked the car.

Luigi took the picture of my great-grandfather along with my genealogy list with of all my relatives' names from Montefalcione and started to ask some of the people if they knew if any of my relatives were still living in the town. Because Montefalcione is not a town where many tourists visit, we seemed to be quite a curiosity to many of the residents of the town. They seemed quite amazed that I came all this way looking for relatives. We did find a woman whose mother had the same last name as my mother but her mother was very old now and would not be able to help us.

We then went to the main piazza. This is a picture of Luigi and the main street in the town. Pictures in this post were scanned into my computer. Unfortunately I did not have a digital camera at the time and did not take that many pictures of the town.


After we parked the car, I noticed a sign above the police station with the name “Montefalcione” on it. I started to take a picture of the sign. A female police officer was just walking out of the door as I took the picture.


She was upset at first that I was taking a picture of the police station. However, once I explained who I was and why I was taking the picture, she devoted the next hour helping me find any of my possible relatives in the town. It was a good thing Luigi was there to help with the translation. They both were wonderful. I would have given up long ago and would have just been happy seeing the town, but they were determined to help me find a relative.

The police officer had us follow her as we drove to a house up on a hill of a woman who may have known some information about my relatives. She unfortunately was not home. We then drove to a to the house of a man with the same last name as my mother. He did not think that we were related.

View from his house:

When doing my genealogy research and looking at the microfilms from the town of Montefalcione, it seemed to me that many of the people in the town married close relatives as there were not many surnames in this town back in the 1880’s. The police officer told me that there were many Martignetti’s still living in Montefalcione (my great great grandmother's last name).

While wandering through the town, we walked by a few churches. One of the churches had the the name Angelo Raffeale Martignetti on it! My great-grandfather’s name was Angelo Raffaele and his mother’s name was MariaTeresa Martignetti. I was pretty excited to see my family's name on this church. It was also on the gate of the church.


Close up of the name on the church:

Close up of a little boy peeking out at me while I was taking the picture of the church:

I don't have a picture of the biggest church (which I assume was the main church) in the town as it had scaffolding on it. This is a picture of another church in the town:

My guess is that I was probably somehow related to many of the residents of the town. I could have even been related to the police officer who helped me. Even though I did not find any definite relatives, just finally standing in the town where my great-grandfather was born was very exciting! I was greeted warmly and everyone I met was very kind to me. I treasure the memories of this trip and hope to return some day as well as to visit Lapio, another town nearby, where my great-grandmother was born.

This is a picture of my great-grandfather, Angelo Raffaele and my great-grandmother, Giovanna on their wedding day. They were married at Sacred Heart Church, in Boston's North End, on April 6, 1902.

**Thank you to everyone who has left a comment on this page. I have been humbled & amazed! 78 comments!! I need to let everyone know that I may not be checking my comments anymore on this site because I have transferred all of my blog posts over to a new blog...

If you would like to leave a comment, please go to my new blog where you will find this same post.

February 22, 2008

my mom

My mom passed away eight years ago today. It seems like just yesterday but it also seems like forever. I was going through my box of old photos the other day and found a few a few pictures that I loved. I only have a film scanner, so I took photos of each.

This post is dedicated to my mom, we all miss you very much! xoxo


Continue reading "my mom" »

March 16, 2008

my Irish, English, Scottish side

St. Patrick's Day always gets me thinking about my Irish heritage. The funny thing is that I was brought up thinking that my father's side of the family was all Irish, making me half Irish. Once I started doing genealogy research on my family, I discovered that my father's side of the family was Irish, English, and Scottish. I guess no one really talked about where their families came from back then. If they did, my research would have been much easier.

I have had the most luck tracing my father's paternal line. I won't bore you with every detail, only a few of the highlights. If you want, just scroll down for the photos.

Dunkin (also spelled as Dunken/Duncan) was my great great great (8 greats) grandfather. He was born in 1664 in Rhode Island and lived in Barrington Rhode Island. I have not been able to determine where his parents were born. I have read accounts that he was possibly Scottish and not Irish, mostly because of his name, Dunkin. I believe his wife, Patience, was English but have no further information on her. I wonder if I could be a relative to those on the Mayflower? Dunkin's big claim to fame was when he took over the Toogood Ferry in 1713 (I assume John Toogood who ran the ferry either died or retired - did people actually retire way back then?). The ferry's name was changed to the our family's name. It ran from Swansey to New Meadowneck. Dunkin's son, John, and then his grandson, Duncan continued to run the ferry until February 1794 when the bridge (named after our family) was built.

Dunkin's other son Captain Duncan (also spelled as Dunken/Donken), my great great great (7 greats) grandfather. He was a master mariner and moved to Edgartown, Martha's Vineyard. His son Lemuel was also a master mariner who married a woman named Bathsheba. Bathsheba's father ran a tavern in Edgartown. When Bathsheba's father died, Lemuel took over the tavern and named it after our family (our other big claim to fame). The next few generations continued to live in Edgartown on Martha's Vineyard. My great great great great grandfather, Joseph, was a block and pump maker. I am very distantly related to Grover Cleveland (the president) through Joseph's wife, Eliza.

Joseph's grandson, Joseph, was my great grandfather. He was a sta. engineer?/sailor on a packet boat, transporting cotton from Savannah, Georgia to Boston, Massachusetts. He was the one that left Martha's Vineyard after the my family lived on the island for almost 200 years. If only we still had some property there. This is also where our direct line of the family stopped running the tavern that turned into an inn (named after our family) on Martha's Vineyard.

Joseph (my great grandfather) married Sadie (my great grandmother). I don't know much about Sadie's family except that Sadie's father, William, was born in England and her mother, Mary, was born in Ireland. Sadie was a devout Catholic and raised her children as Catholics. She was said to have converted her husband (my great grandfather) on his deathbed. I don't have a photo of my great grandfather.

My great grandmother - Sadie:

Continue reading "my Irish, English, Scottish side " »

March 18, 2008

my Jewish heritage

I have written about my Italian heritage, my Irish, English, Scottish heritage, and now I will write about my Jewish heritage.

Again, if you are not interested in the details, you will find 3 more photos when you click on the "Continue reading "my Jewish heritage" » link at the bottom of this post.

My great grandmother, Rosie Kaplen came from Russia probably in the late 1800’s but no later than 1902. She was a very strict Orthodox Jew.

My great grandmother, Rosie Kaplen when she was young (I love this photo):

My great grandfather, Jacob Sperber came from Austria in 1988 (which at the time was the Austrian-Hungarian nation). He was a merchant, selling vegetables from a cart. He later became a butcher and owned a meat market.

Both of my great grandparents were previously married. My great grandfather’s first wife died at the age of 33. They had three children together. I never knew any of these children.

No one knows the story of what happened to my great grandmother’s first husband, Isaac Kaplan. His name was never spoken of for some unknown reason. My great grandmother had one child with Isaac Kaplan

I don't know the story of how my great grandparents met. My great grandmother was living in New York during her first marriage. My great grandfather was living in Massachusetts when his first wife died.

After my great grandparents married, they had one child together, my grandmother.

Continue reading "my Jewish heritage" »

March 30, 2008

what's in a name?

girasoli ~ I originally chose this name when setting up an email account many moons ago (or at least it seems that way now). My real name is such a common name and it was always taken. Even my last name is a pretty common name.

I wanted to come up with a unique Italian name as my user name. During my first couple of visits to Italy, I fell in love with the fields of sunflowers. After thinking about things that I loved about Italy, I decided on using the Italian word for sunflower ~ girasole as my user name. The problem was that girasole was taken. Now I know that I am a singular person and "girasoli" means sunflowers (a plural word), but the only way I could use sunflower in Italian to create this new email account was to use the plural form of sunflower ~ girasoli.

Photo of a sunflower ~ il girasole (singular) ~ that I took while on the island of Burano two years ago.

And so, that is how I became to be known as ~ girasoli.

April 21, 2008

the birthplace of my great grandmother ~ Lapio, Italy

Three months ago, I wrote about "my visit to Montefalcione", where my great grandfather was born. After writing that post, four people with ties to Montefalcione left comments on my blog. I have also noticed quite a few hits on my Irish, Scottish, English side of the family post and hope one day to find a connection there.

So, today, I decided to write about the town of Lapio where my great-grandmother, Giovanna Romano, was born, with the hope that this post may help me to find connections to Lapio and possible relatives from there. I have not yet visited Lapio but hope to go there someday.

Here is one of the few photos I have found of Lapio:

Like Montefalcione, Lapio is also located in the Campania region of Italy. It is
22 kilometers from from Avellino and is very close to Montefalcione. I can't believe I was so close to Lapio but did not visit!
(I can't seem to find the source of this map anymore.)

According to this Lapio website, there were 1,750 inhabitants living in Lapio during the 2001 national census. The inhabitants were distributed in 590 families with an average of 2.97 people per family.

I found this interesting bit of information on the ten most common surnames in town of Lapio.
Key to the chart: The left hand column displays the estimated number of individuals with the given surname displayed in the right hand column. For example, 106.10 estimates there are at least 106 people in the town with that name.

My great-grandmother, Giovanna Romano, was born in Lapio on November 20th, 1878. Her parents' names were Gennaro Romano and MariaTeresa Zarella. Besides Romano and Zarella, direct descendant family names further back include Carbone and more Romano names on the Zarella side. Hey, maybe Ray Romano and I are related somehow :)

Here again are my great-grandfather, Angelo Raffaele and my great-grandmother, Giovanna on their wedding day. They were married at Sacred Heart Church, in Boston's North End, on April 6, 1902.

**Thank you to everyone who has left a comment on this page. I need to let everyone know that I may not be checking my comments anymore on this site because I have transferred all of my blog posts over to a new blog...

If you would like to leave a comment, please go to my new blog where you will find this same post.

August 17, 2008

the omnivore’s hundred

From Kim and Jerry who both got it from Krista who got it from Last Night's Dinner who got it from Andrew over at Very Good Taste.


1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.
4) Optional extra: Post a comment at linking to your results.

I added one extra step - a * next to those I would never try again.

1. Venison
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile (not sure if I would try this or not)
6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp
9. Borscht (not a beet person)
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari
12. Pho (would have it again if it was a chicken version)
13. PB&J sandwich* I had PB&J once as a child. That was the day I realized that I can't stand peanut butter.
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart* do not think I could eat one today now that I know more about the water the dogs sit in...eeeew
16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes (might have??)
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans* not a bean lover
25. Brawn, or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters
29. Baklava
30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut* not a sauerkraut fan
35. Root beer float* nor a root beer fan
36. Cognac with a fat cigar (YUCK)
37. Clotted cream tea (sounds yummy)
38. Vodka jelly
39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects (not if I was starving)
43. Phaal
44. Goat’s milk (might have?)
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more (would take a sip but am not a whiskey person)
46. Fugu (don't think I would take the chance on the chef being knowledgeable enough to not poison me)
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel* had eels in Hong Kong, couldn't get past the idea I was eating eels!!
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut (just never had the chance)
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal* loved them as a child but do not eat red meat anymore
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini (would take a sip but am not a martini person)
58. Beer above 8% ABV (I don't like beer)
59. Poutine
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores
62. Sweetbreads EDITING this one - I originally bolded this one thinking that sweetbreads meant the Portuguese sweetbread popular here in Hawaii, but after seeing Marta's list and that she crossed this one out, I googled sweetbreads and found out it means the thymus glands of lamb, beef, or pork...eeeeewwwww!!
63. Kaolin (what is this??)
64. Currywurst
65. Durian
66. Frogs’ legs* eeeew again! tried a taste once but could not get past the thought of it being frogs' legs!
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill (seriously? would anyone eat roadkill?)
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie* there are too many other desserts I would rather eat
78. Snail
79. Lapsang souchong (might have?)
80. Bellini
81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant
85. Kobe Beef
86. Hare - EDITING this one - I originally bolded this one thinking that rabbit and hare were the same, but found out they are not and so although I originally thought that I had eaten hare, now I am not sure.
87. Goulash (might have?)
88. Flowers
89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam* now that I know what is in spam, not a fan
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake (too similar to eels for me)

September 4, 2008

the forty-three meme

Deborah at Old Shoes-New Trip posted a list of 43 interesting city squares, plazas and piazzas from around the world. She is challenging her SlowTrav friends and travel blog readers to list the number of squares they have visited.

The rules:
Copy this list into your own blog and put an asterisk after each city square you've actually spent time in. (Riding past in a taxi or bus doesn't count.) Please include the link back to Old Shoes-New Trip in your own entry and then leave a comment on Deborah's post so she can find your blog and admire your count.

The Forty-Three MEME from Old Shoes, New Trip
1- Piazza Del Campo, Siena, Italy *
2- Piazza Della Signoria, Florence, Italy *
3- Staromestske Namesti, Prague, Czech Republic
4- Markt, Bremen, Germany
5- Grote Markt, Brussels, Belgium *
6- Piazza and Piazzetta San Marco, Venice, Italy *
7- Piazza Del Campidoglio, Rome, Italy *
8- Krasnaja Polscad, Moscow, Russia
9- Sultanahmet Meidani, Istanbul, Turkey
10- Piazza Navona, Rome, Italy *
11- St. Peter's Square, The Vatican *
12- Place Des Vosges, Paris, France
13- Place Vendome, Paris, France
14- Place Des Terreaux, Lyon, France
15- Place Stanislas, Nancy, France
16- Plaza Mayor, Madrid, Spain
17- Schlossplatz, Stuttgart, Germany
18- Plaza De La Constitucion, Mexico City, Mexico
19- Praca do Comercio, Lisbon, Portugal
20- Trafalgar Square, London, UK
21- Gendarmenmarkt, Berlin, Germany
22- Konigsplatz, Munich, Germany
23- Winter Palace Square, St. Petersburg, Russia
24- Piccadilly Circus, London, UK
25- Piazza Duomo, Milan, Italy *
26- Piazza Dell'Unita D'Italia, Trieste, Italy
27- Theaterplatz, Dresden, Germany
28- Maria Theresien Platz, Vienna, Austria
29- Hosok Tere, Budapest, Hungary
30- Plaza De Mayo, Buenos Aires, Argentina
31- Times Square, New York City, USA
32- Tian'anmen Square, Beijing, China
33- Praca Dos Tres Poderes, Brasilia, Brazil
34- Nathan Phillips Square, Toronto, Canada
35- City Hall Plaza, Boston, USA
36- Plateau Beaubourg, Paris, France
37- Tsukuba Center Square, Tsukuba, Japan
38- Place Du Nobre D'Or, Montpellier, France
39- Placa Dels Paisos Catalans, Barcelona, Spain
40- Parliament Square, Canberra, Australia
41- California Plaza, Los Angeles, USA
42- Schouwburgplein, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
43- Potsbamer Platz, Berlin, Germany

So far, I have read that Deborah has visited 15 squares and Marta has visited 13 squares. My grand total: 8! Pretty pitiful. Guess that means that I need to do more traveling! The only problem is that it is pretty difficult to tear me away from Italy whenever I do get the opportunity to travel. I just need more time and a stronger dollar!

Thanks Deborah for coming up with this fun post!!

February 10, 2009

the letter G

Jill at Fizzy Thoughts recently posted about the ten T's she loves. I took a leap and decided to participate blindly in this letter meme hoping I would not get the letter
Q, X, or Z. To participate, all you have to do is ask for your letter, and will have an instant topic to post about. Jill assigned me the letter G. At first I though G would be pretty difficult but surprisingly I was able to come up with a list of 18 G things that I love. Here are ten of them...

1. Google – How did I ever survive before the world of Google? Now whenever I need to find anything out, I just grab my computer and google it. Can you imagine the look on people's faces years ago if you said, "Wait, let me google it?" Now what else can you think of has an I'm Feeling Lucky button!

2. Greek yogurt - two of my favorite flavors are:
Greek God's Reduced Fat Vanilla Cinnamon Orange Yogurt
and Greek God's Pomegranate Yogurt

3. Gymnastics - I love to watch women's gymnastics, almost as much as watching baseball. The uneven bars is my favorite event.

g4%20pic.jpg4. Girasoli - Sunflowers!! During my first couple of visits to Italy, I fell in love with the fields of sunflowers. When signing up for an email account many years ago, I decided on coming up with an Italian name as my user name. After thinking about some of the things that I loved about Italy, I decided on using the Italian word for sunflower ~ girasole as my user name. Unfortunately girasole was taken. Now I know that I am a singular person and "girasoli" means sunflowers (a plural word), but since girasole was taken and it became too confusing for my fingers to remember when to sign in as girasole and when to sign in as girasoli, I decided on using girasoli as my user name. I have used girasoli for so long now that it almost like my second name. That's how I became to be known as ~ girasoli.

5. Gas stove - After having a gas stove, I hope to never have to use an electric stove again. What a cool gadget to be invented. I don't understand why all houses are not equipped with gas stoves. I googled the history of gas stoves to find out if perhaps the gas stove was invented after the electric stove, thinking that could be the reason why more houses seem to have electric stoves, but found out that the gas stove was invented in 1826 and the electric stove was invented in 1891. Now if we did not have google, would I have been able to find out this important fact so quickly and easily?

6. Gelato – Specifically Italian Gelato.

7. Gaucamole - The first time I tried an avocado was after moving to Colorado for graduate school. Mexican food was not big in Massachusetts when I was growing up. Once I tried gaucamole, I was hooked! Deelish!!

8. Genealogy - I started researching my genealogy over ten years ago. I have gotten pretty far with a couple of lines, even visiting the village my great grandfather came from in Italy but still have a ways to go with a few other lines. I received a surprise email on Saturday from a woman answering a question I left on a genealogy forum back in 1999. Her great grandmother was my great great grandfather's sister. Now how cool is that?

9. Going to Italy - it's a stretch using the letter G, but I had to find a way to include traveling to Italy in this list :)

10. Gilmore Girls - I got hooked on this show a few years ago. I was pretty sad when the show finally went off of the air. One of my all time favorite episodes was Season Five's "Jews and Chinese Food".

If you would like to participate, leave a comment and I’ll assign you a letter. After getting your letter, write about 10 things you love that begin with your assigned letter, and when people comment on your post, you assign them a letter, and so it goes and goes and goes...

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to shave ice & gelato in the about me category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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