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Ninety Years - End of the Rainbow - Return to Campobasso
By Robert Bruno
My name is Robert Bruno. I am second generation Italian American. My parents were born in America and three of my grandparents were born in Italy. I am one hundred percent Italian heritage. My father's father was from Naples and his mother was from Bari. My mother's mother, Josephine, was born in New York, but her parents were from Rome. My mother's name is Rose Casertano and her father was Pasquale Casertano from Campobasso.
I was always familiar with the name Campobasso because Campobasso was the home frequently mentioned by my grandfather. My grandfather came to America through Ellis Island on October 24, 1913. I did not know at the time, but October 24 was going to be a very special date. Pasquale was sixteen years old when he came to America following his two older brothers Giuseppe and Giovanni. They had arrived in America a few years before but I do not know the exact dates. Unfortunately, none of the brothers ever returned to Campobasso or ever saw their family nor did they ever get the opportunity to speak to them again. Lately I realized that it had to be very difficult and devastating for everyone in the Casertano family in Italy. For three brothers to leave a beautiful family and beautiful country never to see anyone again had to be devastating.
I was the first grandchild of Pasquale and Josephine Casertano. My family had always lived with my grandparents. Pasquale wrote to his family in Campobasso until his death in 1963. My grandmother, Josephine, did not speak or write Italian very well, so shortly after my grandfather's death, the communication with the Casertanos in Campobasso ended. In the fall of 2000, my wife Mariann and I began our long planned trip to Italy. We left Miami International Airport and flew to London where we made our connection on a flight to Nice, France. We spent two days in France and on the third day we headed toward Italy.
We had planned our route for months. Our destinations included Santa Margherita, Orvieto, Positano, Amalfi and Rapallo on the Amalfi Coast, Siena, Assisi, and of course, Campobasso. We were both very excited that we were finally going to visit Italy. There were many places we wanted to see including Campobasso, the birthplace of my grandfather. I would not leave Italy until I visited Campobasso. A strong feeling within told me I had to see where my grandfather came from. After all, Campobasso was all I really knew about my heritage.
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