October 19, 2013. Well, sort of. We arrived at the train station in Firenze, no problemo. Spent 20 of our 30 minutes looking for a toilet. Signs all over the station, but none have arrows. Just letting me know there was one, but not where. Finally found it. Costs €1. Had given my coins to the beggars. Oh well, it's a 30 minute bullet train to Bologna and we will have time there. But our ticket has no train # and Rimini is not the end of the line so we ask. First, at the info desk for a different train company and they didn't know but they pointed to another info booth and he said, in English: "Track 6". Sounds easy. But there are two different tracks, in different places, both numbered "6". ["6 Central" and "6 Ovest"]. Like they can't count above 15 and they had 20 tracks. So we guess on one, there is a train waiting, but no officials to ask. So, we go back to the terminal and ask again. "Track 6 Central" in Italian. We were at the correct one and found "our" train - which gave us a name and # - on a paper on the wall But as we stood waiting on the next train, an announcement was made and everyone left. Donna heard "Rimini" in the Italian-only announcement so we headed toward the terminal and found a display board saying our train # was now on "4". Like "6" there are two #s "4" so we guessed again, climbed the stairs, found a train waiting with the right name and number, and got on. Wrong car - 1st class. And had not cancelled our ticket as were supposed to do, but we were on the train. Called Danieli Celli to say we were going to be in Rimini at 10a, and off we went. Another adventure survived.
A puzzling observation. It is still really warm here. Daytime highs are not far from 80 and nighttime lows are in the 60s. No wind, low humidity. I wish I had brought shorts. But many, many of the Italians dress in sweaters under coats with scarves and winter hats. I would melt but they seem unbothered.
Have you heard about the love in an Italian family? Forget about the sitcoms. Ask yourself if your grandparents spoke of "going back" to a remote mountain community and everyone came out, talked, walked, then ate in a communal love-in. If so, double it, then triple it, then just imagine.....
70 years ago this coming June 5th, my Dad's first cousin - James H. "Jimmy" Longino (who lived within 1 block of where I grew up) - had to bail out of his flying fortress over the tiny community of Mieolo, Italy. He landed about 5 miles out, found a change of clothes, and began walking south when he encountered a 16 year old Valeria Selva (see photo) and her Mom. They took him back to their home where 11 of them lived. And the love and bravery that family had is beyond my imagination. Had they been caught, all 11 would have been executed - as had just happened to an Italian family 8 mikes away - but they took him in, hid him in a hole that they dug in a field 100 yards from their remote mountain farm home, and kept him safe for more than 3 months, because they were a loving family and that is just what they did. Because love motivated that family - and clearly so does - they did what Jesus commanded we all do: welcome the alien, give to all who ask, do for the least of us. Tired, hungry, alone behind enemy lines, Jimmy found his greatest moment of need, and found a family willing to meet it.
How do I know that love motivated them? Because of what they did 70 years ago - and what they did today: October 19, 2013.
We arrived at the Rimini train station to two carloads of Italian greeters. We then rode to the home of Valeria Selva, 88, her husband, son, daughter and various others. After an hour or so talking with her we left to go see the 1944 home, now used as a sort of barn. When we arrived we found ourselves surrounded by smiling faces welcoming us (see photo).
By the way, I was far too busy meeting people so I asked Donna to take the pictures. You might want to see the photos on her blog www.lifeizgudontheroad.WordPress.com
We looked at where Jimmy had hid, etc and then we were in a procession of 11 cars going to "manga". 40 of us ate for more than two hours (see photo), capped by a song sung for us (video ). But I kept being drawn back - as did Donna - to the beyond imagination choice Valeria's parents made to protect a stranger at the very imminent risk to everything they held dear. I am confident that when their eyes last closed then saw their Risen Savior, the first thing they heard was "Well done, good and faithful servant!"
[What a juxtaposition of this wonderful, loving, happy family Silva and the Jimmy Longino children who - for reasons I can't imagine - want nothing to do with this. Just as love gets passed along, generation to generation, even when the generators of the love are long dead and buried, so, too, anger. Great Uncle Henry, his son Jimmie, his wife Barbara... who knows? It does not matter. Too bad for them, but great for us. We were "adopted" into the Silva family and invited back as soon as possible! We WILL be back and - if you are reading this family Selva - you will always have a home away from home in a small village in the hills north of Atlanta where the love generated by my father and Donna's mother await your arrival with equally wide open arms and hearts!]