information everywhere

   If you find yourself in your ancestral town, remember that everyone there is a potential source of important information about your relatives. Taxi drivers, hotel staff and employees of a prominent local business usually have a lot of local knowledge. In my book, there was a man in a folding chair whom I met early in the day when I found my first relative. He started me on my way. To this day, I wish that I knew his name.


   I have found that many people in Italy are proud of their home towns and their connections to the people who live and work there. They might not be forthcoming with information, however, if you begin your conversations by pointing out that some things in Italy do not meet the standards of the United States. At a restaurant in the airport in Rome, I once had a wonderful lunch of risotto with artichokes made special by a chef who had just defended himself against a crowd of Americans who were angry because he could not make a cheeseburger.