Thursday, 21 March 2013
PROUD OF MY ROOTS
I'm told my great grandfather Palmiro Londi was a legend in his lifetime and, with some time on my hands, I decided to see if Google had anything in its archives that might tell me more about him.
My search only returned one possible result which is the story of a 90 year old man from my mother's home town Cecina Mare in Italy who recounted his war experiences and says how he was a student of of my ancestor and returned to fishing after his Italian war service ended.
What I do know about the great Palmiro is written in this book published to celebrate the new millenium which features high profile characters in the town and included chapters on a few of my relatives.
It said that he was a very strong man, the only one who could swim from the Cecina shore to the far away lighthouse at Vada and he liked his wine. Apparently he never drank from the glass and prefered to lift the barrel with strong forearms and drink direct from there.
The book - E Nel Mezzo Il Mare - also tells me that he was awarded the French Legion of Honour medal for saving the life of two French pilots whose plane crashed into the sea at Cecina during the First World War but I can't find any record of that on the internet and wonder where I should start looking.
Palmiro, it is said, also loved his women and romanced them all in Cecina in true Casanova style but I have no idea who his wife, my great grandmother, was.
His son was also a legendary figure in the town. Roberto Londi, also a fisherman, was my mother's father, my grandfather. I never met him because back in those days travel was not as easy or as cheap as it is today and he died before my first ever visit to this charming fishing village which is now a tourist haven. That began, apparently, when my great great grandfather Giannacio Londi hired out the beach where they launched their fishing boat from to soldiers stationed in nearby barracks so they could admire the beautiful young women sunbathing on the beach.
Roberto, however, did get a mention in the Corriere Della Cecina when he saved the life of a nine year old boy who was drowning in the sea. Apparently after retirement, he took up Palmiro's old spot on the beach to watch out for danger in case they needed to save more lives.
A cousin's eldest son now works as a lifeguard and so it appears to be something of a family tradition and there was something said in the book that there is "genetic propensity" among the Londi family to save people.
I can't find anything about Roberto online but now I've posted what little information I know here maybe distant relatives also keen to hear about these shared legendary family members will find it if they ever come looking.
All I know is that I come for damn good stock.