Let me explain at the outset that Dr B’s ancestry is Italian but, like many Italians, that means a lot of things that aren’t Italian at all. However, his is immediately and obviously that (after all, he was born there). Mine is largely Irish. Indeed, on my father’s side, it’s entirely so. My mother’s side is more mixed, with a predominance of Irish but also including Scottish and English, a mix to be found in many Australian ancestries. It’s all several generations back in my case. Nonetheless, Dr B and YoungB will insist on calling me the Little Leprechaun. I know they do it because they love me. 🙂
Dr B sometimes reckons the Italians have dibs on large families and clannishness. Personally, I think the Irish could give them a run for their money! For example, his father was one of a family of four, mine one of a family of six. (That puts the Irish in front there.)
In his father’s family there were Mario, Armando (Nonno), Franco and Maria. Only Nonno made the move to Australia, so most of Dr B’s family is still in Italy. Dr B certainly has no first cousins here, though YoungB has six (two on Dr B’s side and four on mine, though there are three siblings in each family; what was that we were saying about the Irish?). When you work out that Mario had two sons, each of whom has two offspring and some of those also have offspring; that Franco had four offspring, each of whom has procreated; and that Maria’s two daughters have children and some grandchildren, it’s easy to see how quickly you can get lost and tangled up in trying to work out who’s who, particularly when (in YoungB’s case) you’ve met only one of them. Then there are Nonno’s first cousins and their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, with many of whom we still maintain contact and with one of whom YoungB will stay for a few days at the beginning of his sojourn (those cousins met YoungB when he was about a year old, an occasion they remember but he doesn’t). More complexity. As you’d doubtless appreciate, this has all become suddenly very relevant and pressingly important because of YoungB’s imminent year in Italy: he needs to know who fits where!
As to Nonna’s side of things, that’s even more muddled because her mother married three times. Well, in a border zone where conflict was reasonably constant and with the odd global disagreement thrown into the mix, it’s perhaps not surprising that life was often short and you grabbed your chance when it presented. Nonna, who is Daniela, is also one of four (my mother was one of five; are the Irish still winning?), having two elder half-brothers Mito and Ennio and a younger brother Nestore. The naming patterns are quite different, aren’t they? Nonno was insultingly referred to as “the Italian” when he first moved to the area (although, to be fair, that probably wasn’t because of his name but the fact that he was dark, therefore obviously not a local, and came from somewhere considerably farther south)! There are children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren and Dr B maintains contact with some of them. As you’d expect, there are also first cousins and their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
When Dr B and I lived in Nonno’s village, which I often describe as being a bit to the right of Rome on the map, I met a lot of the rellies who lived there. Mostly they were on Nonno’s mother’s side of the family but there were plenty on his father’s side. Someone once recognised Dr B as belonging to that clan, merely because of his head shape. Or that’s what they said and, you know, that’s probably right since Dr B often looks like a clone of Nonno, specially as he gets older and wrinklier (says YoungB)! We calculated that, in a village with a population of about 800 for most of the year but swelling to nearly twice that in summer, he was related to two-thirds of them, and quite closely related to perhaps one-third. Scary! YoungB will visit that village as well as the one across the valley – the cousins have promised us that already – where there aren’t quite so many rellies but most assuredly they are there: children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren of Nonno’s first cousins.