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Traveling to Italy... meeting Cofrancescos
by Susan Cofrancesco Green

I had the opportunity to travel with my husband Michael on a business trip to Italy. For both of us this would be our first time traveling to Italy. We flew into Milan and spent most of the ten days staying in Chiavari so that we would be close to his work, which was the boat show in Genova.

Susan Cofrancesco Green and Michael Green in Chiavari (Genova, Italy)

Having rented a car we were able to spend a few days exploring the different areas along the Riviera Ligure... Recco, Rapallo, Santa Margherita, Portofino, and Bonassola. All the sites along the water were truly beautiful not to mention a challenging drive through the mountains, just breathtaking! We sufficiently ate and drank our way through these beautiful and colorful places.

Susan Cofrancesco Green
 Susan with the Ligure Sea and Riviera in the background

But the best day of all during our trip was when we had the opportunity to meet and spend the day with my cousin, Pacifico Cofrancesco and his family. Thankfully my brother Steven Cofrancesco worked diligently to make contact with Pacifico while we were in Italy so that we could connect with him.

Matteo and Pacifico Cofrancesco
Matteo and Pacifico Cofrancesco in front of their home in Garlasco (Pavia, Italy)

We got excellent directions from Pacifico and found our way effortlessly to Garlasco (Pavia, Italy) arriving just in time for lunch with Pacifico's mother, father, and son Matteo. A most amazing lunch prepared by his mother, Filomena (Philomena)! She served us a full course lunch which included her home made lasagna and Pacifico's fathers chicken.

Filomena and Giuseppe Cofrancesco
Giuseppe Cofrancesco and Filomena Guarnieri,
Pacifico's parents

The church across the street from their house, the Santuario della Bozzola was very beautiful and Pacifico was able to share many important historical facts about the church. It is well known for the many miracles that are displayed in a special shrine to the Mother Mary.

Santuario della Bozzola - Garlasco
The Santuario della Bozzola in Garlasco, just across the street where Pacifico lives,
the first church was built in this place around 1460, after a young girl, who was mute from her birth, suddenly started speaking after the apparition of the Mother Mary.

Having Pacifico with us was like having a professional tour guide, he was a wealth of information, not to mention that since he is a city official he literally had the keys to the city!

pa050245c-300.jpg   Pacifico and Susan in the Town Hall of Garlasco
Garlasco - The Town Hall in the background

Pacifico and Susan in the Town Hall

Pacifico in the Council Room of the Town Hall
Pacifico in the Council Room of the Town Hall of Garlasco

So on this beautiful Sunday afternoon he was able to show us the center of the city including the Town Hall, a local church, and  the very old and beautiful Theatre House, along with his latest project... A tribute to the memory of Maria Callas.

From there we were welcomed into his sister's (Lucia) home for the celebration of her baby boy's first birthday. Although most everyone spoke only Italian, Pacifico's English is excellent so he was hard at work being the translator, we were most comfortable and at ease with everyone.

Gabriele's birthday
Lucia Cofrancesco, Pacifico's sister, with her son Gabriele the day of his first birthday,
her husband Paolo Righini on the right and her mother Filomena in the middle.

I think that watching baby Gabriele was a universal language in which we could all communicate and enjoy! Our busy day continued with a trip to Vigevano, a nearby city where we saw an old castle and the most spectacular square that had been designed by Leonardo Da Vinci!

Vigevano-Castle   Vigevano-Ducale Square
Vigevano - A tower of the Castle
Vigevano - Piazza Ducale (Ducale Square)
Vigevano - Piazza Ducale
Vigevano - A detail of the wall paintings on the buildings
of the Piazza Ducale (Ducale Square),
dating back to the XVI century

After a day like this you could only top it off by stopping for some pizza and a bottle of wine, which is exactly what we did back in Pacifico's home town. We said our goodbyes around 9:30pm and vowed to keep in touch.

For Michael and I our trip ended by driving the country side and spending our last full day visiting Venezia. The sites were as promised, beautiful and we walked for miles! Returning to Italy is something that I would love to do. I think that I was most surprised by all the beautiful Churches and the history behind them. Our trip did revolve mainly away from the touristy areas so I found it extremely interesting to witness the people and how they live naturally. Not being able to speak Italian made it a little difficult and at some times lonely while Mike was working, but it only made me want to stay longer so that I could learn.

The group
Matteo, Pacifico, Susan and Michael

I do attribute the enjoyment and success of our trip to Pacifico and his family. For without their kindness and welcoming nature we would not have had such a wonderful trip!

Susan Cofrancesco Green

Photographs by Susan Cofrancesco Green, Michael Green and Paolo Righini
© 2008 -

Last Updated ( Thursday, 11 December 2008 )
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