Home | Valente and DiRenzo Family History - Documents and Stories

Giovanni Valente's First Return Visit to Gambatesa, Fifty Years after Leaving for America, September 1960

Below: Giovanni Valente with his daughter Esther at the Trevi Fountain, Rome, September 1960.

Giovanni Valente with his daughter Esther at the Trevi Fountain, Rome, September 1960, 22 KB

In late August 1960 Giovanni Valente (1887-1969), his daughter Esther Valente (1930-1994), his niece Anna Vittoria Valente (b. 1939), and Frank (Francesco) d'ALESSANDRO went to Italy with Our Lady of Mt Carmel Church, Camden, New Jersey.  They arrived at Rome (Roma/Aerop. Inter.le Ciampino) 28 August 1960, and left from Rome 30 September 1960.  Anna Vittoria Valente was the daughter of Giovanni's older brother Donato Valente (1885-1965); she was called "Anna-v".

The five-week trip began with taking a bus to New York City and flying to Rome.  They were met at Rome by people from Gambatesa with a car; they drove -- passing through (Monte) Cassino and stopping for a picnic lunch -- to the village; the trip did not seem to Esther to take too long.

In the village Giovanni's oldest brother Michele Valente (b. 1883) told Giovanni that Esther and Anna-v could not go off touring alone, and Giovanni told Esther: "My brother says you can't go."  But Esther said: "My mother said I could go" (Actually, she said that Michele could come with them: this was how much it cost).  And she and Anna-v went.

Giovanni Valente was 72 years old.  Esther was 30.  Giovanni had left Gambatesa almost 49 years before his return visit in 1960.  He later told his daughter Vittoria that nothing had changed.  And he told his sister Maria Vittoria (b. 1896) that if she did not put a toilet inside her house he would not stay with her again.  He bought fly swatters and gave them to all his family -- even to his brother Salvadore who was paralyzed (Esther remembered her uncle lying in bed holding the fly swatter).  Anna-v was amazed by the village's poverty; her father, who had left Italy when he was 17, had never told her about the poverty.  (As Esther remembered it, her Uncle Salvadore died in October or November 1960, and Michele in 1961.)

Esther took her father to Rome, Naples, Pompeii, Sorrento and Capri, which Esther said that he enjoyed.

Esther and Anna-v went to Milan, Venice, Geneva, Paris (Postcard dated 17 September), Brussels, Cannes on the French Riviera, Barcelona and Madrid (Postcard dated 15 September), with Eur-Rail train passes.  They also visited Giovanni Valente's cousin Serafina Valente at her convent near Barcelona, Spain.

At the airport in New York City

Giovanni Valente, his niece Anna-v, and Frank d'Alessandro, August 1960, 15 KB

From viewer's left to right: Anna-v, Giovanni Valente, and Frank d'Alessandro (both the old men are wearing hats).

Frank d'Alessandro was called Gumba Francisch'  (Compare Francesco) by Giovanni Valente's children.  His mother-in-law was called Zi' Nigol'  (Zia Nicoletta); she ran the boarding house at 210 Mickle Street, Camden, where Giovanni Valente and his future wife and father-in-law lived when they first came to America.  Nunziata DiRenzo (1897-1983) used to cook the spaghetti for the boarders (The boarders slept in shifts: when one man got up to go to work, another took his bed to go to sleep).

Aunt Nicole(tte)'s husband was Domenico Iacovelli, the second witness to Giovanni Valente's Petition for Naturalization (1922).

Giovanni Valente sent a post card from the Province of Foggia in the Region of Puglia to his wife Nunziata DiRenzo in the Erlton section of Delaware Township (the name of which was changed to Cherry Hill in 1960), Camden County, New Jersey.  The postmark read "Manfredonia, Foggia", and Giovanni wrote:

Vi saluto
tutta la fame_
glia e sotto mi
fermo vostro
marito Valente

I greet you, all the family, and below I sign myself your husband ... He used the formal form of address (vostro) rather than the familiar (tuo).

Giovanni had addressed the post card this way:

Valente 162
Wesle ave
Erlton N.J.

On the image side of the post card is a photograph of a church portal identified on the back as:
  La façade de la Basilique de St. Michel Archange
  A view of St. Michael Archangel's Basilica

Esther Valente did not know why her father visited Monte Sant'Angelo or Manfredonia when he stayed in Gambatesa in September 1960.  But the Medieval Church of St. Michael the Archangel is well known, and the coast of the Gargano Peninsula (the spur of the Italian boot) is said to be very beautiful.

The URL of this Web page: https://www.roangelo.net/valente/italia60.html
Last revised: 5 March 2007 : 2007-03-05 by Robert [Wesley] Angelo.

Back to top of page

Home | Site Map | Site Search | Valente and DiRenzo Family History - More Documents and Stories