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  • The 10,000 Lira Note

    by Steve Amoia

    During the summer of my junior year in high school, I traveled to Italy with the Experiment in International Living. This was an organization that fostered cross-cultural experiences between Americans and host families abroad.

    My destination was the idyllic and very isolated Italian island of Sardinia. I spent a month there with the very gracious Alivia family. After the month, our group, which was mostly college-aged students, traveled back to the mainland to finish our adventure. We took a member of each "host" family as compensation for boarding us for the month.

    We arrived by boat in the large port of Naples. My maternal grandfather was born about three hours away in the vicinity of Foggia. I had called a distant cousin, Maria, when I was in Cagliari, Sardinia, to provide my date of arrival. I embarked on a very special journey to the hometown of my grandfather, Domenico. I was met at the train station by about ten distant relatives. Initially, I walked past them to the piazza. Then I returned to the platform, and a young man, Vito, who was dressed in black with Ray Ban sunglasses said, "Are you Steve? You look like us."

    Then I met others, along with a woman who knew my grandfather during childhood. When she saw me, she became very emotional. But one of the cousins was married to a doctor named Urbano. After walking the streets of my grandfather's village, which was called Troia, I was feted to a wonderful dinner with my distant relatives. Later that evening, I was taken back to the train station in Foggia for my return to Naples. When I said my farewells, Urbano had a smile on his face. He then handed me a crisp 10,000 Lira note (about US $16), which if I recall properly, was decorated with the image of Michelangelo. He said something, in English, that I have never forgotten.

    "We are like parallel lines, Steve."

    Sometimes, the longest distance between two ancestral points is a parallel line. My Italian roots are very important and provide me with a special identity. The bond I shared with my grandfather was forever imbued on that wonderful day in Troia. I saw the lemon and olive trees that he described in his many anecdotes during my childhood. I felt his presence along with me. Unfortunately, he never was able to return. I am very pleased that I made the journey. We all need to respect our past, along with the struggles of those who came before us.


    About the Author

    Steve Amoia has published articles and book reviews about alternative health, art history, career-related themes, historical figures, Italian and international soccer, martial arts, psychology, and sport topics. He is the author and editor of the World Football Commentaries blog, and also writes for Soccerlens. His web site is www.sanstefano.com.

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