She had started wondering about her past a year earlier, after an accidental meeting, to which, at that time, she didn’t give much importance.
It was a Saturday afternoon and Angelina was lazily strolling with a friend in an open market set at Miami Beach. People were busily moving around the many stalls offering to the sightseer clothes, jewelry, and old curiosities. The two young women found at a stall some attractive necklaces, and they were enjoying their time.
Then Marisa, Angelina’s friend, spotted a sign displayed on a tent, reading in large capital letters,
TAROT CARDS – WE READ THE FUTURE
Angelina told her friend,
“It’s an appealing invitation and promises such fun. Let us pop in for a laugh. Come Marisa, we are going to find out who will be our future husbands.”
Inside the tent incense burned in a brass saucer emanating a spicy odor.
A middle-aged gypsy woman sat at a table. She was dressed in a long dark skirt and a frilly white blouse.
Long curly blond hair sprang out from her colorful scarf and large round gold hearings hung from her lobes. She was adorned with heavy golden chain and bracelets, decorated with amulets in the old traditional gypsy fashion.
She was one of the rare gypsies left around in the Americas, professing the old skill, learned and handed down from mother to daughter in centuries of telling prophecies to people around the world.
Angelina sat in front of this modern witch, and when requested, she cut the Tarots. The gypsy woman used a complex archaic way of displaying the cards, for, soon after regrouping them again into selected bundles. She finally read from one of the chosen bundles.
She read the oracles in a sibylline way, with her words filled with double meanings, and using purposely mysterious oracle words, to create suspense and the sense of archaic mystery.
Angelina’s prophecy was told in this way,
“Your grandmother’s spirit has taken life inside you. She is using your body to execute her wish of returning to the land in which she had born and where the olives grow…
“It is also the land of the old Gods and Prophets. They had descended from their Olympian’s reign, where these mystic Gods had lived for long time, and well before the modern Gods that exist now.
“You shall return to her land, so that your Ancestor’s spirit will finally rest peacefully under the Gods’ millenarian olive tree, which mark the place where she had born and belongs.
“Sitting in the shade of the sacred olive tree, she will be gently caressed by the Mediterranean breeze, and finally she will be at peace. In that way, you, blood of her blood, shall inherit her fatherland and you will become the link of her life, and will inherit her homeland for your progeny.”
Angelina listened to such revelations of the Gypsy’s oracle in a skeptical way and didn’t take her seriously; certainly not at that time or at her age.
Three years had passed since the Gypsy’s prediction, and now, like in a mosaic, everything was going into place. Angelina could now understand the deep meaning of the prophecy and the call of her Grandmother’s spirit begging for the return of her soul to the land of the secular olive tree, where she would find her peace. This wish became in time more and more imperative and compelled her to listen to her grandmother’ spirit, to return to the homeland of her ancestors to fulfill her desire.
It was an early morning in springtime, with a glorious sunrise, when the Alitalia flight arrived at Punta Raisi, the Palermo single airstrip, one of the world’s most dangerous airports, set between the cobalt sea and the mountains circling the city.
Angelina felt tired from the long journey but happy and full of hope for her future.
She knew it wouldn’t be easy tracing the Accana family in Palermo, but she hoped that with God’s help and some good luck, she would overcome any problems she may encounter.
She booked her stay at ‘Le Petite’, a cozy little family hotel with only six rooms set in an undisturbed alley situated behind the maritime terminal and in the vicinity of the Quattropunti, (Four Points) the heart of Palermo city.
She woke in the afternoon, after her flight from the States, she found herself full of energy with a wolf’s appetite. She moved around the neighborhood and chose a pizzeria where she ordered a ‘Calzone’ pizza cooked in the traditional oven over burning coals. She thought that was the best pizza and enjoyed it with a glass of good white wine. After the meal, she mixed with the locals in their traditional evening stroll on the crowded city footpaths, and was fascinated by the multicolored reflection of the shopping lights on the city paths.
She found the old narrow streets crowded with colorful people and the city adorned with the vestiges of history and décor. The centuries old streets, along her way, kept opening into a chain of small Piazzas adorned with classical palaces and the Norman churches several centuries old.
This part of Palermo, where she was, had preserved the ancient history of the past and the facades of the old buildings reflected the evidence of many tragedies and opulence spanning back three millenniums of history of this city. Since the first Grecian invader had sat foot and proclaimed the colony, to the last Spanish Bourbons that proclaimed the reign of two Sicily and ended by the hand of Garibaldi. The many monuments they left behind show the progressive steps in the history of invasion and dominance of the many invaders, and represent a documented evidence of today’s inheritance of the local population presenting a mixture of blood and culture.
Since the morning after her arrival, Angelina busied herself searching in the local register office, libraries, maritime archives, as well as consulting telephone books, and post offices, in the hope of finding answers in locating any Accana’s descendents left behind in this city by those emigrants that had left in the past days of 1902.
The first week was frustrating and gone in vain searches. Angelina felt the stress of the long hours in such monotonous work. She didn’t lose her hopes and kept working with determination,
“Someone, somewhere in those dark offices will hold the key of my rebus, -She thought- and my patience will finally trace the path leading in the right direction. I won’t give up, I want to be a Sicilian like the others living in this city, and … yes I will prove it, not doubt about it.”
Even her second week didn’t return any successful results. But luckily in one of the public offices she went she was directed to search in the police archives.
The clerk in charge told her, “Those records go back two centuries. With luck and patience you may find clues of the persons you want to know. We have different files and classifications.
“You’ll find the missing person records as well a list of people that have been wanted by the courts and possibly have belonged to the Mafia. There is also a list of people who had been terrorized by the mob. These lists are potentially good leads for your searches. That office might prove to be the place where you could find your missing clues.”
She found the office in the basement of the Palazzo di Giustizia, one of the old major office buildings standing in the city for the past two centuries.
At the counter Angelina explained to the clerk the reasons for her visit and she was told, together with a smile, quite an auspicious answer.
“Si, Signorina, we have a person who can help you. He is a lawyer who has an office in the city, but he also comes here for researches inherent to his work.”
“His name is Dottor Franco Marchese. If you wish, I can arrange an appointment to see him next week.”
Angelina met Franco Marchese at the time prearranged. She found that the lawyer looked different from the many other Sicilians. He was tall and handsome, with curly blond hair and sparkling blue eyes, and always had a friendly smile for his customer.
“Certainly a Norman’s descendant” she thought. “He isn’t the typical short, dark Sicilian.”
After the preliminary introductions Franco asked
“Bene signorina, what can I do for you?”
“Well Dot. Franco, first of all please excuse my Italian but I live in the States. From some research I made there, I believe I’m a Sicilian, and that my grand parents emigrated from Palermo in early 1902. I came to Sicily hoping to find more proofs about the roots of my family and if I have any relatives still living in Sicily. During my search over the last couple of weeks I found how hard this task is for me alone. Could you please help me? ”
“Certainly, Signorina, I’ll be please to help, but it won’t be that easy. A century has elapsed since that day your grandfather left Sicily. It is a long time, but there is no harm to try. You need to know that going through the old documents of the past takes time but I will try my best. Please leave a phone number where I can reach you.
“Within a week I’ll be able to let you know how much success I have had.”
The conversation was sealed with a cordial handshake between the two young people.
With a bright smile Franco concluded, “I hope to see you soon Angelina, with good news. By the way, welcome to our Sicilian land.”
The following Friday Franco phoned Angelina,
“Buonasera Signorina, I’ve started searching through some documents of the time but so far I haven’t been able to find any references about your family.”
“Thank you, Signor Franco, I hope you are not wasting too much of your precious time on this matter.” replied Angelina
Franco continued “I also have another reason to call you. Talking with you the other day I understood that you don’t have any friends on the island. I have arranged a party for next Sunday with some friends of mine and I thought this could be a good opportunity for you to meet some real Sicilians. Would you like to come to the party at my place?”
It was a surprise to Angelina, who enthusiastically replied,
“How can I thank you Franco?”
“Fine Angelina, if you agree I’ll pick you up Sunday at 10.00 A.M. Goodbye for now.”