My Italian Roots 

Mangia bene. Ridi spesso. Ama molto.

If I had to choose one language in the entire world, it would be Italian. For me, Italian sounds like a mixture of magic, poetry, adventure, and passion. I am already learning a little bit of Italian with an online app, but my dream is to spend more time in Italy to have the chance to deeply immerse myself not only in the language but also in the culture. 

The Italian language encapsulates one of Europe’s richest and most varied linguistic heritages. After Italian, Napolitano is the second most spoken dialect in the country, but others are officially recognized by the government. These include Friul, Sardo, Franco-provenzal, and Alguerés, among others. Depending on the area and closeness to other countries, some of these languages are similar to German, Catalán, Slovenian, or even Greek.

I guess this bellissimo (beautiful) language is the perfect complement to the Italian culture: a perfect amalgamation of delicious gelato, pasta, pizza, wine, magnificent art, breathtaking monuments, Italian lifestyle, the countless cinemas and theatres, and phenomenal music and literature — just to name a few. All these features create a special and unique combination and experience for the Italian citizens and the many thousands of tourists who visit the country every year. 

Pie chart of the annual foreign visitors to Italy by country of origin

Data source:

Why Did I Choose Italy? 

Two years ago, I lived for one and a half years in New Zealand. I spent most of my time working and saving money for a future trip. Almost everyone doing this kind of “work and travel” experience is also interested in visiting Asia. Why? Well, not only because of the beautiful beaches and exotic places Asia has to offer but also because it is a very affordable destination compared to visiting Europe. But for me, I wanted to experience something different. I wanted to go to Europe, and maybe afterward, I would visit Asia. That was the plan until both of my brothers, within a four-week span, announced that my two sisters-in-law were pregnant. I did the math and calculated the time I’d need to travel and still return back home in time for the birth of my nephews. I had already visited five European countries in two weeks, so this time, I wanted to spend at least a month in my chosen destinations: Italy and Spain. I chose those two because my mother and father’s family were half Italian and half Spanish. 

Un Piccolo Giro – A little tour

The traveling linguaphile in Rome

Ah, Rome, a city that I will always have in my heart! From my perspective, this city is a perfect collage of different scenes: the musicians in the street, the river that flows across the city with the sidewalk, the Italians with their gestures, and the Trastevere neighborhood full of small places to eat and drink, the streets full of life, the many ice cream shops around the corner, and the magnificent possibility of getting lost when appreciating the Italian architecture. 

After Roma, I visited Costa Amalfitana, Genoa, Pompei, Napoli, Lecce, and Milan. This last destination was the most expected because I wanted to visit one town in particular — Canegrate — where my great grandfather, Giovanni Natale Scossiroli, had been born and lived until he migrated to Argentina.

Getting to Know My Forefathers

The Traveling Linguaphile with Pirucha Scossiroli in Canegrate

Here I am with Pirucha Scossirolie, a relative I met during my day trip to Canegrate!

My adventure to Canegrate was full of surprises, and this photograph is the witness. First, I walked around the town without finding what I was looking for. My grandma explained that I needed to look for a”molino” (a mill) and a street with her last name — Scossiroli. I tried searching on Google maps, but I couldn’t find anything. After walking around, I decided to go into a shop and asked the shopkeeper for directions. He was kind enough to search on his old computer using a very old town map. With his help, I walked for roughly 15 to 20 minutes, and once I arrived at the destination, my excitement turned to disappointment within a matter of seconds.

I found the sign my grandmother had mentioned. I then started walking through a small path from the sign to an old house. The house and the molino were fully closed and abandoned. I first went to the nearest neighbors, hoping to get some information and with my very bad Italian, I asked him if he knew anything about my family. Unfortunately, he was not very friendly and pointed me towards another house just across the street. 

I rang the bell, and a sweet lady appeared on the other side. I tried to explain what was going on and almost started crying. I just had so many emotions running through me all at the same time. It just so happened that she was not my relative or anyone close to it, but she felt like home to me. Then, something magical happened. She invited me to jump into her car, and we went to pick up Pirucha Scossiroli. This is when the story got exciting. So see, Pirucha was indeed my distant relative!

Our Traveling Linguaphile with lovely Italian ladies helping her trace her Italian heritage

I had quite a one-day adventure with these two ladies. We went to their church and had a cold beer and something to eat. Then we visited the molino. We begged the next-door neighbor again to let me in and insisted until he allowed me to go inside. He finally conceded, and even showed me how the molino used to work. I was even able to take some pictures!

The mill that was in Virginia's family

That was the first step to getting closer to my history and heritage. While in Canegrate City, I even looked in the hall for my great grandfather’s birth certificate. And once back in Argentina, I gathered all the papers I needed to request my Italian citizenship! May the adventures continue on!

A step closer

Unlike other trips that were only for pleasure, to learn a language or work, this one was a trip to get closer to my roots, and it was full of emotions and surprises. I plan to return soon to Italy and continue the story’s second chapter. I will keep you posted!

Have you ever dug into your ancestors’ history? Do you know where your origins are from? Leave your comments below. We would love to hear from you!

Written by Virginia González

If you liked this read, here is a link to Virginia’s previous article, Mountain Trekking in Córdoba!

*A special note from the CEO of GIM Content Management: This particular adventure has touched my heart as my beloved grandfather, my “papa”, was born in Racalmuto, Sicily. I also became emotional reading this adventure, and I hope one day, I too, can visit the birthplace of my grandfather who was a very important part of my life.