Giovanni returned home without a bride, but his parents, knowing that
their son had a
restless and adventuresome spirit, braced themselves
as the boy excitedly told them
every detail of his visit to the
Palmeri house. At first they were stunned that Giovanni
definitely decided on going to America, but slowly they realized what a
opportunity it was for him to have a better life than he could
ever have in Catania.
Giovanni quickly wrote a short letter to
Stefano Palmeri, telling him that he would be
happy to be his
son-n-law and, if his daughter Giovanna consented to be his wife, he
would be a proud and devoted husband to her forever. Upon receiving the
Palmeri family was overjoyed, especially Giovanna.
Stefano quickly answered Giovanni’s
letter and told him he would
take care of the necessary documents for his voyage to
that they were eagerly awaiting his arrival.
receiving his parents’ blessings and warm wishes from his sisters and
made them promise to come to his wedding. He would
write to them of the date. The young
man left Catania with his head
full of dreams. He was soon to be twenty two years old and
return to his home town until thirty years later.
Giovanni was once again surrounded by the Palmeri family, he found his
father-in-law busy filling out forms that included him on
their voyage to the New World.
An immigrant arriving at ElliIs
Island in America needed proof that a sponsor would be
for supporting him with food and lodging until he could find a job and
become self-supporting. Stefano had uncles and cousins in New York
and Illinois who
would welcome him and his family into their homes.
Stefano was busy with paper work, Mamma Lucia was making preparations
her daughter’s wedding. The young couple was now engaged, with a
at their heels! Until the day of the wedding,
Giovanni was welcome to sleep at Stefano’s
brother’s home—across the
street. Giovanni smiled at the suggestion. He would always think
Uncle Alfredo as “the arranger”.
a very short engagement, the wedding bells tolled loud and clear from
church as Giovanna, adorned in the beautiful white wedding gown sewn
by her mother, was led down the aisle by her father, Signor Stefano. At
the altar Giovanni in
his freshly pressed best suit, took his place
next to his petit blushing bride. As they stood before
Silvestri declaring their marriage vows, they resembled two tiny dolls
that had just
stepped down from the top of a wedding cake.
young bride and groom rode back home amidst the joyous congratulations
of relatives and
friends. As was the custom, the townspeople had
followed the wedding party to the church
on foot, and were now
strolling home while wedding bells still chimed in the distance.
Giovanni’s parents Rosa and Antonio, and his two brothers had managed to
wedding and rode in a horse and carriage to the Palmeri
house. His sisters were unable to
make the journey to Roccamena, one
had recently given birth to her first baby and the
other sister was
very pregnant with her third child.
festivities began. For many hours family and friends enjoyed Mamma
delicious food prepared for her first daughter’s wedding.
The guests ate, drank, and then
serenaded the bride and groom with
beautiful Neapolitan love songs, accompanied by a
mandolin. All the
romantic words of the songs were dedicated to the young couple.
Giovanna chimed in with her beautiful voice, singing the songs she loved
The evening came to an end. The guests were gone and a peaceful quiet
filled the house.
The young bride and groom were given their own
little bedroom in a far corner of the house.
They were alone at
last, young, inexperienced, and shy. Holding hands, they walked over
to the one small window in the room and opened the squeaky shutters to
let in the
cool night air. The peaks of the surrounding mountains
made a lovely silhouette against a
dark blue sky filled with a
million stars. Giovanni and his bride stood at the window for a
time, sending their wishes up to the mysterious tiny lights burning in
slowly they closed the shutters.