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Monday, August 11, 1997

[Kaelen] The day before, Brian had found a laundry mat for us to do a load of very ripe clothes. So we pack all our clothes in a garage bag and put in a load of laundry. Boy, was it expensive - $24 for two loads. So off went to go to have dinner. I volunteered to go change the laundry during diner. So I change the laundry and finished diner. Only to find the dryer door clip was broken. So here we are stuck with all these wet clothes. Today Cameron and I got up a spent $12 dollars more to get these clothes done. We went on our way $36 poorer.

Man, the Amalfi Coast was beautiful. Deep blue water and the whole shebang. The roads are insane. Towns on the Amalfi Coast are built into the steep rocky shore. There are so many cars on these narrow roads that you can only go very slow. On the Amalfi they have a big fire problem because of the very dry condition. On every mountain there is a fire starting.

[Ain't it beautiful] [I told Cameron not to play with matches]

[Brian] At about 5:30, we arrived in my father's hometown of Sassinoro. Sassinoro is a beautiful small Italian village on top of a mountain, with cobblestone streets and white stucco houses. Most of my relatives on my father's side grew up there, though most have since moved to America - Sassinoro's sister city of Ossining, New York, to be exact. Today Sassinoro has a population of about 500 people, mostly older folks (there is not a heck of a lot there to hold the interest of young people). There seem to be only a few families left there that are directly related to my father. We stayed at the home of one of them, my father's Uncle Pasquale.

Sassinoro

Main Street

At first I was a little worried that we may not be able to hook up with my family. I had tried to call our English-speaking contact there (Maria, my half-cousin) a couple of times during the day, since we were running quite late, but invariably got either random recordings in Italian from the telephone company, or people at the other end of the line who knew no English and would bombard me with Italian when I asked "Maria Mastracchio, per favore." I had no idea whether I had the wrong number, was dialing wrong, or whether Maria was gone (at one point I thought someone said she was in America, so I thought perhaps she had returned earlier than expected). I did not have anyone else's number or address. But not to fear. I stopped in a bar/café when we got to Sassinoro and not only did the patron there know the Matracchio family, she got someone to take me there personally. It turned out that at the other end of the number I had been dialing were a couple of bewildered relatives of Maria - Maria herself was staying elsewhere, and had been expecting us for a while. We quickly hooked up with a number of my relatives and had our first of a series of Sassinoro meals.

A Subset of the Clan

Maria tries one of Kaelen's Judo moves

After eating and drinking and talking and eating and drinking and discussing the family tree and eating and drinking some more, we decided it was time to go to the local festival to eat and drink some more. Here Cameron and Kaelen tried a little beer (no minimum drinking age in Italy - when in Rome, as they say) and Kaelen lit up the dance floor with his John Travolta moves.

One sip

and he's gone.

We finished up the evening with a visit to my half-cousin Arturo's house, where we (of course) ate and drank, until after 1:00 in the morning.