Ten years ago, as I was getting close to retirement age, I was trying to decide what to do if I sold my business and retired. Many people I talked to mentioned travel. My wife wanted to travel, but I wasn't sure I did. We knew we would not like to cruise, so that was taken off the list first. She wanted to see Europe but traveling on a guided tour of Europe didn't sound fun.
My grandparents were from Italy, and when I was a little boy, my grandmother would tell me they would know me when I went. I never thought about it much then, but I began wondering what she meant. Unfortunately, with my parents and grandparents passing, I had no one to ask where the village was in Italy. All I knew was it was near Milan. So, I started searching old documents and found the name Muriaglo. I searched all northern Italy for Muriaglio but only found Muriaglo/Castellamonte. So, I asked my wife if she would consider a short trip to Milan, Italy. From Milan, we could travel by train to Venice and other points of interest as a trial run to traveling. We decided at the same time to see if we could find Muriaglo. I hoped we would find it and the spot of my great-great grandfather's mill. A part of the foundation, something.
We asked the hotel to arrange a car hire on our last day in Milan. Soon the driver, the hotel manager, and I were on the hotel's computer trying to find Muriaglio. They concluded I had it spelled wrong. So, the decision was made we would go to Castellamonte and ask around. Castellamonte was an hour and a half away. We would get there about lunchtime. If nothing more were assured, we would have a great lunch in Castellamonte. The Piemonte region of Italy was known for its food. So, we left on our adventure.
As we approached Castellamonte, I happened to look out the window; as we passed a small road, I saw a little sign pointing to the right, Muriaglio. I reached over the seat, grabbing the driver's shoulder. I asked him to turn around and take the road with the sign, up the small winding road into the mountains. Within ten minutes, we saw a sign at the village entrance: Muriaglio POP. 300.
Driving into the spotless, quiet village, we found a restaurant. But unfortunately, we saw no one to ask about the mill. So, our driver suggested we go to the restaurant to have lunch and ask. So, we walked in. There was a counter on our right. To our left was an elegant dining room with large windows and spectacular views. The man at the counter could tell we were strangers and looked suspicious.
Our driver introduced us and asked if he knew of a mill nearby. Our driver smiled and translated Italian for us. "Yes, there was within walking distance; he would call someone come to show us." Then the gentleman pulled out a photo of my family's mill. You could have knocked me over with a feather. Such a surprise I have never felt before. Little did I know that was just the beginning.
Our driver, myself, and my wife sat down and ordered lunch. Just as we were finishing our lunch, I heard a woman standing behind me, asking in Italian, "Are these your grandparents? I turned, and she was holding pictures of my grandparents. To say I was in shock would be an understatement. I nodded. Our drive translated her Italian. When we finished lunch, would we come to her house for coffee? Our answer was, of course.
After lunch, we walked the short distance to her house, where she was waiting. I walked in as she held the door for everyone. I looked around the room, and on the wall were photographs of my mother, her sister, and their brother. I almost collapsed. I turned, and she put her arms around me and said, with the driver translating. "Welcome home. We have waited a long time for you to return. This was your great-grandfather's house and the house your grandfather was born in. I looked to my wife, who was in a kind of daze.
We sat for coffee, and soon a cousin was there who spoke English and took us for a walk to see the mill. We have been going back for ten years.
About the Author
Gary Smith’s first romance thriller, The Willing, debuted with a 4.8 stars average rating by independent reviewers who asked for a sequel. He is on the case!
Gary balances life between business and a love of arts. He founded a small electrical contracting business and grew it into a multimillion-dollar national business. At the same time, he writes and is an award-winning fine art photographer. Operating within both business and artistic communities introduces him to a wide array of characters and experiences, from which he draws for his writing.
When Gary is not writing, he travels. Most often, Gary will be spotted in Italy, searching for more characters and experiences for his stories to come. To follow Gary, visit www.garysmithauthor.com