Sonnino is the town where the Town Ambassador started, still in its first conception. In the town hall we made the first connection simultaneously with Daiana Megalhaes in Australia and Mark Tempesta and Denise Dumont in America to talk about the promotion of this beautiful village with the unmistakable taste of Itrana olives.
Sonnino is alive and finds new children in the world thanks to the fervent activity of his descendants on social media. And it was on social media that we met David Luciano Boccia, second generation of Italian descendants or first generation of Canadians (depending on the perspective from which you observe him).
David has opened the Global Italians Facebook group dedicated precisely to second generations who sometimes have mixed feelings about their roots.
But let's get right back to Sonnino and the red carpet on the main course.
David's mother was born in Sonnino and part of her heart has always remained in Italy. His father (David's grandfather) worked at the Fossanova railway station and when he died young, the family was left with no home and no money. So Anna Pellegrini with her brothers went with their mother to Canada where some cousins had already moved.
A long boat ride to get to the cold Halifax harbor and then take a train to Toronto. It was January and Anna was without a coat, but after two days she was already working on the sewing machine in a factory.
At the time the Italians were called WOP - With Out Paper and isolated also because they did not know English, but this spurred them even more to give the best of themselves, and they were concerned with immediately placing their children in schools and in the speaking communities English.
Certainly not all emigrants had the same feelings, some were full of love for Italy and others no longer wanted to hear about it. David's father was from Veroli (exactly from Scifelli) and had started out as a barber but when the Beatles and long hair were fashionable in the 1960s, he had to change his profession.
David and his brother grew up with Sonnino in their hearts and participated in the celebrations of the Italian community, and still celebrate Republic Day on June 2, but they are Canadians with Italy in their hearts. Exactly the mirror version of their parents' feelings.
Then the internet arrived and everything changed. Sonninesi around the world were immediately very active in social groups and gave rise to an enlarged community where there are no longer any geographical boundaries. Anna is one of them with her Sonninesi group scattered around the world with almost 1000 members.
In 2016, Anna and David decide to take a short trip to Italy to see Sonnino again and breathe in the change that had taken place. Anna was certainly no longer the same person who had left, but even the country was no longer the one of her memories.
So one day they found themselves walking along the main street to reach Piazza di Sonnino and a lady looked out of a window and called out loud:
“Anna! But are you Anna from Canada?”
Anna and her son looked at each other and David asked his mother if she knew the person he was calling her. Mom replied that she did not know who she was. In the meantime, the lady came down introducing herself: they practically talked to each other every day on social networks but had never met.
“I felt like Sophia Loren on the Oscars red carpet. Walking the narrow path that looks like a carpet and being recognized and acclaimed was one of the most beautiful experiences of my life and of my love for Sonnino.”
In our chat on whatsapp, David showed me a large photo of the Colosseum but also a 'Sonnino torch' framed and in close-up in the living room of the house.
Torches are the symbol of Sonnino and the Festa delle Torce is one of the most beautiful Italian celebrations. Anyone can learn more about their history by visiting the Borderland Museum which talks about the brigand Gasbarrone and Torches.
After hearing this story, together with Mayor Luciano de Angelis di Sonnino we decided to give the Town Ambassador Award to David for his second generation activism. For everything he does and plans to do to pass on his love to his children, the third generation of Italian descendants or the second of Canadians with Italian origins.
We appreciate him and don't want to lose all his enthusiasm. Long live Sonnino and all his children in Italy and outside Italy!