Panettone Trifle

If you walk into an Italian house during Christmas, the odds that you’ll see a round, dome shaped bread is pretty high. That bread is panettone!

Panettone is a sweet bread like cake with an airy, soft inside that is usually enjoyed during major holidays like Christmas and Easter. Traditional panettone is made with dried fruits. Now, there are multiple different flavors and varieties of panettone to appeal to everyone- including some with chocolate. 

There are many different stories regarding the origin of panettone, some dating back to the 15th century. One story states that a nobleman fell in love with a baker’s daughter, so he disguised himself as a baker to win her over. When the nobleman was working as a baker, he invented this sweet bread and added citrus and fruit to it.

Another legend states that the chef for the Sforza family burned the bread for the big Christmas Eve feast. A man named Toni offered up some yeast he had been saving for Christmas day. They kneaded the yeast into the bread and added some zest and fruit. The bread was a huge hit and they called it “il pan di Toni.”

Another legend dates back to Milan in the 1500s. Bakers were allowed to bake a wheat bread for their customers as a gift of appreciation during the holidays. 

Just as there are numerous legends about Panettone, there are many ways to enjoy it. Some people toast it and have it with coffee, some make it into a french toast, and some just eat it as it is as a dessert. A new way to eat it created by Rossella Rago of Cooking with Nonna is to make a Panettone Trifle! The recipe is easy to follow and will help you wow your guests with fun twist on this traditional item. 

Here’s what you need: 

  • 1 large Panettone cut into chunks
  • 4 cups of my Easy Custard Cream cooled to room temp (Custard Recipe Below)
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups Marsala wine (you can use more or less depending on how strong you like it)
  • 1 1/2 cups crushed Savoiardi cookies
  • 4 cups raspberries
  • 3/4 cup chopped pistachios

For the full recipe head to Cooking with Nonna https://www.cookingwithnonna.com/italian-cuisine/panettone-trifle.html

From Our Family To Yours

Fruitful Yield– Part of the Family

Hello! My name is Michelle, from the Fruitful Yield family. You may have noticed our new Fruitful Yield store inside Angelo Caputo’s Fresh Markets in Carol Stream. We may love Angelo Caputo’s fresh produce, but we also love how they are a family business—just like we are! To us, being family-owned means being able to prioritize our customers in a way that is rare at larger operations. It also means spending time together. And of course, it means spreading the love of our families to our communities and beyond.


As smaller, family-owned operations, Fruitful Yield and Angelo Caputo’s are able to put their customers first! At Fruitful Yield, we take great pride in making decisions that are good for our customers. It’s not just business to us—it’s personal. We know a great deal of friends and family who shop at our stores depend on us to make choices that will be best for them.

Members of the Fruitful Yield family and Caputo’s family


Therefore, we work hard to get the best prices possible for a small chain. We also think about what our friends and family use and want to buy. Online, we respond to questions and concerns individually. There are no bots, because we know how we would want to be treated. (We love to follow the Golden Rule!) This personal service can also be found at Angelo Caputo’s, where friendly associates can help you find all of your grocery needs.

Being a family-owned business also means that we’re good at spending time together. Elwood Richard was Fruitful Yield’s founder; you can find his family working for Fruitful Yield and its sister company, NOW Health Group. I’m a grandkid, working for Fruitful Yield Marketing, where I can pop upstairs at any time to visit my mom or uncle. His great nephews, the Pecenka boys, can be found working at Fruitful Yield Elmwood Park. In fact, many of Elwood’s grandkids have worked summers at Fruitful Yield in Bloomingdale and Lombard. We also meet as a family to discuss decisions and changes in the company. This is also true of Angelo Caputo’s family who can be found together at various events in their stores, and in upper management.


While we enjoy spending time together, what’s even better is that we use the time to share our family’s love. This is one of the most important parts. We are passionate about what we do, and we show love to our communities. Providing health products at great values brings us joy. When you buy a Fruitful Yield product, we want you to be sure that product is effective and of the highest quality. In addition, we try to show our gratitude through free health educational events at our stores, and by partnering with various charities to make the world a healthier place. Angelo Caputo’s spreads the love through friendly service, community events, and tons of in-store family-friendly fun.

Angelo Caputo’s Fresh Markets and we at Fruitful Yield are proudly family-owned and operated. This means we can make our customer experience personal, spend time together, and spread the love in our communities. If you’re new to either Angelo Caputo’s or Fruitful Yield, visit Fruitful Yield inside Angelo Caputo’s Fresh Markets of Carol Stream to experience two family-owned companies with a passion for helping people live happier and healthier lives.

What to do with Leftover Potatoes

Thanksgiving is the holiday when you’re so full that you can’t eat anymore, but there is still a ton of food. Clean up time can be intimidating with the heaps of food you have to put away. If you don’t want to be eating leftover mashed potatoes everyday for a week, we have a solution! 

Cheesy potato muffins are the way to go! This recipe makes it easy to prepare these muffins and freeze them for whenever you need a quick bite.

Thank you to the Idaho Potato Commission and  Anushree Shetty for sharing this!

Here’s what you need to do:

Ingredients:

  • Cooking spray as needed
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup spinach, finely chopped
  • 1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1/4 cup green onions, finely chopped
  • Salt as needed
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 1/2 cups leftover mashed Idaho® potatoes
  • 1/4 cup mozzarella or sharp cheddar, shredded
  • Sour cream for topping, optional

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Grease the muffin pan with cooking spray or butter. Set aside.
  2. Beat the eggs till the egg whites and yolks are well combined.
  3. Add the eggs along with chopped spinach, cheddar cheese, green onions, salt and pepper to the mashed potatoes. Mix until well combined.
  4. Scoop the potato-egg mixture into the prepared muffin tins filling the cups a little over 3/4 full. Smooth out the top using a spoon.
  5. Bake 25-35 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  6. Remove the muffins from the oven and sprinkle each with a cheese topping of your choice.
  7. Return muffins to oven and continue to bake for 2 minutes, or until the cheese melts.
  8. Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan for 5-10 minutes before carefully removing them.
  9. Serve with a dollop of sour cream and finely chopped green onions.
The completed dish courtesy of Anushree Shetty

Simple and delicious! For the full recipe created by Anushree Shetty and some further tips, check out Idaho Potato’s recipe guide here: https://idahopotato.com/recipes/leftover-mashed-potato-muffins

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Stracciatella- What it is and what to do with it

If you’ve ever had burrata cheese, you know that the filling is a creamy deliciousness. Did you know that the filling has its own name and you can get it by itself? This is called stracciatella!

Stracciatella cheese is sweet and milky. It is shreds of mozzarella that are cut and soaked in sweet cream. The great thing about this cheese is that it is so versatile! Because it is soaked in that fresh sweet cream, it has sweet undertones. Even though it is naturally on the sweeter side, what you pair it with can drastically alter the taste. 

Here are a few ways– savory or sweet– to enjoy stracciatella cheese as appetizers!

Savory

These ideas are based on some stracciatella on a cracker. Our favorite crackers to use are Panzanella crackers. In multiple different flavors of crackers, they can really enhance the flavors you want to bring out

1. Olive Oil

Olive oil is great to put on stracciatella because you can have a lot of fun with it. There are so many olive oils and flavored olive oils that will bring out the best of stracciatella. One of our favorites is lemon olive oil! Try a drizzle of lemon olive oil with a little bit of salt, pepper, and oregano. 

For these next few, we explored our prepared foods and used parts of our prepared salads or foods to pair with the stracciatella and crackers! 

2. Roasted Red Pepper

We cut up a roasted red pepper from the prepared foods department and put that piece on our cracker with stracciatella. It doesn’t even need any additional toppings because the pepper itself has so much flavor. The sweetness of the red pepper is toned down by the oil and seasoning it is roasted in which brings out a burst of flavor when paired with stracciatella!

3. Portobello Mushroom and Broccoli Rabe

For this one, we grabbed a marinated mushroom from our marinated vegetables and garnished with a little piece of broccoli rabe. This combo is a good way to add a little bit of everything to your palate.The crunchiness from the cracker mixed with the sweetness of the cheese is further enhanced by the marinade of the mushroom and the soft crunch of the broccoli rabe!

4. Marinated Artichoke

This one doesn’t need toppings either and is one of our absolute favorites. We took a little bit of our marinated artichoke salad and peeled some of the leaves which we then put on the cracker with the stracciatella. The marinade on the artichoke mixes well with the creaminess of the cheese and creates a burst of flavor sure to leave you satisfied!

Sweet

When you're looking for something sweet, but not too sweet, stracciatella is the way to go! What you pair it with can make it a simple and satisfying treat!

1. Jams

Much like the olive oil, jams are a great way to adjust the flavor of stracciatella. There are so many different flavors of jams and preserves to pair with stracciatella. Whether a unique flavor or a classic one– most all of them will work with stracciatella. Some of our favorites to top stracciatella with are the fig spread or a cranberry jam! 

2. Strawberries

We love fruit and we know that cheese goes well with strawberries! Put a strawberry slice on a cracker with the cheese and you have a sweet bite! If it’s too sweet, add a drop of balsamic to tone down the sweetness.

3. Dark Chocolate Cherry Crackers

Using a sweeter cracker is a simple way to alter the flavor. Try stracciatella on a dark chocolate cherry cracker! The understated sweet flavor of the dark chocolate and cherry cracker brings out the sweetness in the cheese. If you still want it a little sweeter, trying adding a chocolate covered cashew for another hint of sweetness!

Stracciatella can be used for so much more than just appetizers! Use it to make chicken caprese. Make a pizza- replace your mozzarella with stracciatella and top with roasted veggies or even some prosciutto and arugula. Put it on a piece of friselle with some olive oil, salt, pepper, and oregano.

The opportunities are endless and delicious! What recipes do you use stracciatella in? 

From Our Family To Yours

The Thanksgiving Feast

Holidays are a stressful time, especially for a host. On the holiday centered around eating, the food preparation can be long and tedious. Take all the stress out of Thanksgiving and let us do the work for you!

We want you to enjoy all the aspects of Thanksgiving, so we will do the cooking for you! We offer a full feast that will make your guests full and make your Thanksgiving easier! Our homemade feast feeds 10-12 people. Our feast is made the same way you would at home! We use all natural foods, no preservatives, and the special touch that only comes with homemade food. The feast includes all the fixings for a homemade dinner!

Your meal comes with a 14-16lb turkey, three sides, and a dozen dinner rolls. The sides are customizable! You can choose what vegetables and potatoes you want from our variety of options. You can also upgrade your stuffing and try out our italian sausage stuffing!

On the side, you will get cranberry sauce or cranberry jelly and gravy.

No meal is complete without dessert and Thanksgiving calls for pie! You will get a fresh baked 8-inch La Bella Romana pie, your choice of apple or pumpkin!

All items come hot, fully cooked, and ready to serve. We are in the kitchen on Thanksgiving morning so that you don’t have to be.

You can get all of this for only $139.99! We also offer just the turkey without the full meal for only $79.99! We will be featuring all the menu options in-store on November 16th and 17th from 12pm-6pm. You can stop by any location and sample the menu options at our holiday showcase!

From Our Family To Yours

5 Foods to Add to Your Beauty Regimen

The superfoods you can easily incorporate into your diet to lighten your skincare routine

With the holidays coming up, life gets busy. Sometimes there is so much going on that health gets put on the backburners. 

Foods have the power to increase affect your body in the best possible ways. What we consume is so important to our overall health, but also affects our appearance.  

Collagen is a very important supplement for anti-aging and beauty. It is the most abundant protein in the human body and is essentially the substance that holds the bones together. It is especially present in the skin, bones, and tissue. It is important to boost your collagen production and that can be done through what we put in our bodies. 

Here are 5 foods to incorporate into your diet that will naturally boost your beauty regimen

1. Watermelon

Watermelon is great for hydration (water…it’s in the name!). Watermelons are about 90% water which will lead to better hydration. We all know that in the winter, the cold weather has the ability to dry out your skin and leave it dull. The water content in watermelon can naturally add that hydration back into your diet. PLUS it’s high in lycopene. Lycopene is a powerful antioxidant that is responsible for the red coloring of watermelon. 

2. Papaya

Papaya has many anti-aging effects. It is high in Vitamin C, Vitamin E, and antioxidants. One of the richest antioxidants in papaya is beta-carotene which aids is keeping your skin free from radical damage. In summary, more papaya = less wrinkles

3. Berries

Berries are a great way to add a little sweetness into your day, plus, there are so many to choose from! Blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, and blackberries- all delicious and packed full of antioxidants and vitamin C. These antioxidants and vitamins aid in protecting from damage and damage causing enzymes, which in turn, boosts collagen production.

4. Avocados

Holy guacamole!! Avocados are a great source of vitamin E. This can help to prevent the harmful enzymes which breakdown collagen. The healthy oils from avocados can help to moisturize and hydrate skin too!

5. Almonds

Much like avocados, almonds have a large amount of vitamin E and healthy oils. What makes almonds different and a staple is that almonds are rich in copper. Copper is very important to the body’s ability to produce collagen. 

There are so many foods and supplements that can help in naturally helping your body create those good vitamins and get rid of the bad ones. If you are interested in learning more about collagen come join us on 11/11 from 5:30-6:30 where Fruitful Yield will be diving into the collagen topic!

Click here to get tickets to this free event!

From Our Family To Yours

The Story of One Emigrant Part V: Where We Are Today

When we last left off, the business was steadily growing and Angelo was ready to retire and enjoy life with Romana. The whole family worked and, eventually, the business was entrusted to my parents, Robertino and Antonella.

The Story of One Emigrant

Storia di un Emigrante

Part V: Where We Are Today

When we last left off, the business was steadily growing and Angelo was ready to retire and enjoy life with Romana. The whole family worked and, eventually, the business was entrusted to my parents, Robertino and Antonella.

In the summer of 1999, my grandfather, Angelo, sat down and hand wrote his story at the request of my mother. I consider myself blessed to not only have his story written down, but to still have him with me to continue teaching us and to answer our many questions.

Sadly, in 2004, we lost our matriarch when my grandmother, Romana, lost her battle with cancer. We miss her immensely, but cherish the time we spent with her and the memories we have with her. We do our best to honor her in every way possible including expanding the La Bella Romana products to include more prepared foods. Anyone who knows my grandmother knows that she was the best cook and loved preparing meals for people, so what better way to honor her legacy than to have meals available for our customers that feature her name and picture. 

Today, we are still that same family owned and operated business, operating with a foundation of hard work and family. You can often find Angelo at the stores. He makes his rounds and goes to multiple stores a day to overlook operations. He watched with pride as our family opened more stores and grew his name. As we grew, we expanded our product lines. We offer our customers a diverse assortment of international, traditional, healthy, and organic foods of the highest quality– the same goal he had when he came to America many years ago.

I am one of 5 children, all of us are involved in the family business. My siblings and I know we have big shoes to fill and strive to make our parents and grandparents proud. We are lucky to have incredible influences who made endless sacrifices for our family. 

Our story is still continuing, but we thank God and our loyal customers for taking this journey with us.

 

 What better way to close Italian Heritage Month than with a quote from that handwritten story: 

Now, that little girl in braids has become my wife and a nonna. That crazy guy that preferred work over school is very proud of what he accomplished in life. Believe me, I would do it over again and again, making very few changes. What is important is that we are very blessed to be healthy and to be more in love with each other than ever. We love to travel, but our favorite thing to do is enjoy time with our grandchildren. 

I am so proud of what we have accomplished so far and can’t wait to see what the future holds.

       -Angelo Caputo

Ps. If I knew grandchildren were so much fun I would have had them first!”

 

 

From Our Family To Yours

 

The Story of One Emigrant Part IV: The Beginning of Caputo’s

When we left off, Angelo had finished his time in the army and was on the way back to Chicago with his new bride to begin the new life he had dreamed about.

The Story of One Emigrant

Storia di un Emigrante

Part IV: The Beginning of Caputo’s

Upon their arrival in Chicago, their life became hectic. They were balancing married life, work, and living in a new place. Angelo and Romana moved into the same apartment building as Angelo’s parents, living in the unit right above them. He was always eager to work, so he started working multiple jobs so that he and Romana could begin saving for their future. Angelo, having grown up in a grocery store and on a farm, knew that’s where his passion and knowledge was.

In 1958, he started working in a 25’ by 120’ building at 2560 N Harlem Ave on the corner of Harlem and Wrightwood in Elmwood Park. This small fruit store became Caputo’s New Farm Produce. This store became well known amongst the growing Italian community in Chicago because of Angelo’s roots in Italy and his customer base expanded. 

  Originally, it was a mostly full service store meaning the customers would tell the clerk what they wanted and it would be picked for them. The store began to steadily grow and it slowly transitioned into a self-service store and the customers loved it. The process was very old-fashioned and simple, much of the calculating done by hand on brown paper bags or the box. The register was a $5 National Register, this means that if a customer bought $30 worth of produce, you’d have to push the buttons 6 times. The customers loved the switch to self service and he drew a bigger clientele. He then bought a $25 register, but all the adding was still being done by hand on those paper bags.  

Angelo remembers “working hard and encouraged the whole family work hard.” Angelo and Romana were blessed with three kids, the youngest being my mother, Antonella. On weekends, Romana would make sandwiches and bring them to the store for the family and the employees to eat for lunch. His kids got involved, doing whatever needed to be done. 

Angelo started his days buying fresh produce. Whether he was driving to local farms, heading to farms in Michigan or Indiana, or going to the South Water Market on the west side of Chicago, he would buy produce that was often picked fresh and sold in the store on the very same day to ensure that his customers were getting the freshest produce for the best prices, a process still alive and well today. 

Working conditions weren’t the best. It was a lot of physical labor in a store with no heat or air conditioning because the store was somewhat like an open market, and we all know the highs and lows of Chicago weather. Nobody complained though, everyone worked hard in whatever condition they were faced with. 

The store remained busy and parking became an issue. Whenever I meet customers of our original location, parking is always a topic of conversation. Parking was very limited and it was always a challenge. Angelo’s goal has always been to satisfy his customers, so he always kept his eye open to find nearby locations that would work for parking.

It was around this time that my parents met. My dad, Robertino, began working for my grandfather. He was young, but he was strong and he was a hard worker. Angelo knew he could handle the work after seeing the way he could unload trucks by hand– the way most everything was done at the time.

The store kept growing and eventually became an Italian Specialty store. It was no longer just produce, but a full grocery store. This included the addition of our private label, La Bella Romana, in 1984. The name of the private label translates into the Beautiful Romana as a way to honor his beloved wife.

After years of only being in Elmwood Park, it was time to expand. There were more and more Italians coming to the Chicago suburbs which meant the demand for an Italian Specialty store was growing and Caputo’s was the place for that. The second store was opened in 1991 in Addison, then Hanover park in 1996 with more to follow.

Later, Angelo was ready to retire (I’ll use the word retire loosely because he still spends most of his days in the stores) and enjoy life with his beautiful wife. The whole family continued working. Eventually, he entrusted the business to my parents, Robertino and Antonella, who have grown Caputo’s even more. Angelo considers himself  “very fortunate to have been blessed with a daughter and a son-in-law who learned first hand from me and share the passion of taking care of the family business.” 

Check back next week to see where we are and who we are today.

From Our Family To Yours

 

The Story of One Emigrant Part III: Life in America

Last week’s installment left off when Angelo’s life was about to change. He had fallen in love, but America was calling. His dream was coming true and he was given the opportunity to head the US and build a new life. 

The Story of One Emigrant

Storia di un Emigrante

Part III: Life in America

            As Angelo sailed away from his home, he began to think. He thought about what he was leaving behind– his family, his friends, his Romana. He was 18 years old, alone, and heading to the unknown. While this might be scary to some people, Angelo turned this fear into determination– something still true of his character today. He was determined to prove himself, to make a life for himself and his future family. He knew he was getting an opportunity that people dreamed about, that he dreamed about, and he was not going to let this opportunity go past him. He got motion sick his first few days at sea, but kept reminding himself that he “was going to America.” After 12 days at sea, he saw the “beautiful, tall, welcoming sight of the Statue of Liberty.” 

The only personal belongings he had with him was a small hand bag, so he got through immigration rather quickly. He was met by his brother-in-law and uncle who were already in the US. He spent a few days in New York before driving to Chicago. As soon as he got to Chicago, he began to think about work, the reason he came to America. His uncle suggested he take some time to go to school and learn the English language before working. This didn’t fly with Angelo and he insisted on working while attending school, and so he did. He got a job in a factory on Armitage and Cicero earning $1.49 an hour. He also attended classes that taught about American history and the English language. As he began learning more, he was able to get himself a place to live and a better paying job. He was making more money and picked up a second job. After a little while, it was time to report for the draft. 

All while in America, he kept thinking about Romana. He wrote her every day beginning the first day he arrived in America. He dreamt about the day he would get to see her again.

He was finally called into service and sent to Camp Chaffee Arkansas where he went through his basic training for the army, which he describes as two extremely challenging months. They then sent him to Fort Dix, New Jersey where he would await his overseas assignment. With the Korean War going on, he anxiously awaited to find out where his assignment would take him. He soon was assigned to a second Armored Division stationed in Worms, Germany right on the Rhine on an army vessel. Being in Germany meant that he was closer to his hometown in Italy and closer to Romana. He found himself thinking about her often and wondering where she was. He wanted to know if she was still waiting for him. 

Angelo was on good terms with his supervisor and told him about his situation with the love of his life. He was granted a 10 day leave of absence and took the first train he could from Frankfurt. He had a long journey ahead of him- Frankfurt to Munich to Brennero to Bologna to, finally, Mola and Romana. He was picked up by his brother-in-law and the next day went straight to that familiar street corner to see Romana. He was nervous to see her and asked some friends to help set up a meeting. Angelo needed to see her and see for himself if she still remembered him after many long years. He was so nervous knowing that they would soon be in the same room. When he first saw her, she was no longer a young girl, but a grown, beautiful woman. They saw each other and everything stopped, neither of them able to speak.  They spent time catching up with each other– she told him that she was caring for her mother who had fallen ill and her mother had saldy passed and he told her about his time in America. As they were saying goodbye that evening, Angelo held Romana’s hands, looked into her beautiful eyes, and told her how much he still loved her and that he wanted to marry her. 

Angelo set up a plan to go with his older sister (because his mother and father were already in America) to Romana’s family home and ask her family for permission to marry her. Walking into her family’s home a few days later, Angelo felt a sense of warmth. He asked for her hand in marriage and was given the blessing from the family, but there were still logistics to be set. Romana and her family were a little uneasy about having a wedding so close to their mother’s death, but Angelo’s sister explained his busy timeline. She told them that he was only in town for a few days. His plan was to get engaged and come back a month before he would return to the US to get married. He then received the official answer that he had been waiting years for… he and Romana were going to get married! 

They spent the rest of his leave together and making plans. They had a dinner with both families where Angelo gave Romana a ring and they went to the cemetery to visit their loved ones that had passed. 

A few months later, Angelo returned to Mola and on September 24, 1956, they officially became husband and wife. As Angelo saw Romana enter the church, his eyes filled with joyful tears knowing this woman would soon be his wife. They had a small reception and spent the last few days of his leave honeymooning through Italy. 

Romana waited in Mola while Angelo completed his service then she would meet him in America. A few weeks after his term was completed, Romana made the journey to America and was greeted by Angelo in New York. They took the next flight to Chicago and spent the plane ride talked and dreamt about their future and their new life in America together. They both knew there would be a lot of hard work and sacrifices that had to be made, but they would enjoy a beautiful life together. 

Just like they had thought, they had a lot of work ahead of them. Check back next week for their new life in America and the start of Caputo’s

From Our Family To Yours

The Story of One Emigrant Part II: The Love Story

When we left off last week, Angelo was going to school to honor his parents’ wishes, even though what he really wanted to do was work. While helping out in the store in the late 1940s, Angelo caught a glimpse of a beautiful girl and a love story began.

The Story of One Emigrant

Storia di un Emigrante

 

Part II: The Love Story

In the store where Angelo worked, there was a large scale. One day, a girl with beautiful, long, dark braids came into the store holding a baby. She walked into the store, weighed herself holding the baby on that big scale and left. Angelo watched and waited for this girl to come into the store and wanted to know more about her. Angelo soon found out that this girl’s name was Romana and her older sister had a cantina near Angelo’s family’s store. Romana would watch her nephew, the baby she was holding when Angelo first saw her, during the day and bring the baby to her sister to feed him around the same time every evening. Angelo would see her walk by and wonder about her. One day, he decided he wanted to know more about her. He followed her for a little bit, and when he got close enough, he playfully tugged one of  her braids and said “ciao!” to get her attention. She immediately turned around, unamused, and carried on.

Romana and her mother    

Romana’s routine continued for about a year. Angelo kept watching her and admiring her beauty until one night he got the courage to talk to her. They would briefly chat and Angelo took every opportunity to strike up a conversation with her. He learned things like the fact that her dad travelled for his work, that she had two brothers and two sisters, and where her name came from. Romana was not a common name in Italy, but Romana was born on October 28th which is known for the March of Rome or Marcia Su Roma, so her parents named her Romana. Those little talks helped them to build a friendship. Angelo would find excuses to run errands and hang out on the corner where her house was just so he could see her and talk to her. One day, Angelo kissed her cheek. After which, Romana jokingly told him “you have to marry me now.” Angelo laughed it off because felt he still had a lot to prove before he could be worthy enough to be her husband. 

Romana, her mother, and her siblings

In the meantime, Angelo was assuming more responsibility on his family farm. His older brother and father had found their way to America, so Angelo was the man of the house. Angelo found himself dreaming of going to America and what it would be like to work there,  The Land of Opportunity. It wasn’t possible for him yet, so he worked harder, picking up the extra work that was required. Angelo still took every opportunity to see Romana, like waiting for her when she would run errands. 

The time Angelo and Romana spent together was limited because of how much work needed to be done. He kept working hard, hoping that one day he would have his chance to go to the United States. In June of 1950, Angelo returned to his house after a day at the farm and found a postcard from the American Council informing him of a new opportunity for him. Because his father was working in the US at the time of his birth, he was eligible to enter the military draft and gain his US citizenship. Angelo knew this was an opportunity he could not pass up and that “it was like a blessing from up above.” He found out he could leave Mola in as soon as 24 hours. He could begin the new life he dreamt of in America, but he had a few loose ends in Mola. One was that he was in charge of the farm and there was a full crop of almonds and grain that had to be harvested. The second was his Romana. He decided to stay in Italy for another two weeks so he could finish the crop and teach his younger brothers what to do in his absence. 

On June 20, 1950, Angelo rode his bike to that familiar street corner with a handwritten goodbye note and a carnation. He put it in an open window in Romana’s house. He talked with a couple friends to make sure they would watch over her while he was gone and if they got a chance, to tell her he had to leave for work, but someday, he would return to her. 

On June 21, 1950, Angelo and his father set out for Naples where Angelo would board a ship and begin his journey to America.   

Check back next week for a continuation of this beautiful love story and Angelo’s journey to America

From Our Family To Yours