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SAS Student Finds Her Italian Roots While on Summer Voyage

Brittany Timney (left) recently reunited with her Italian family, Daniel Rotenelli (center) and Rosina Rotenelli (right) spend a day together in Italy.

After decades of lost contact, Summer 2013 student Brittany Timney reunited with her family during the voyage’s recent visit to Italy. Traveling to the small town of Ascoli Piceno, Timney fulfilled her lifelong dream of once again bringing together her family in the U.S. with her family abroad.

“Growing up I was always told stories about my family in Italy and my family [in the U.S.] had been unsuccessful in finding them,” said Timney, a rising senior at Fairleigh Dickinson University. “Family is very important to me and I wanted to join us back together.”

The separation between her family occurred after her great grandmother, Nonnie, moved to the United States in the 1920’s. When Nonnie died, Brittany Timney’s relatives lost contact with her family in Italy. Many attempts were made to regain contact, such as traveling to Italy, but Timney’s aunt and mother were unsuccessful in their search.

When arriving in Livorno, Italy on the MV Explorer, Timney decided to take the challenge of finding her family.

With pictures of her grandparents, Timney arrived in Ascoli Piceno and headed to the small municipality of Venarotta, where her Italian family resides. When Timney began asking local people about her family name “Lupi,” she was led to a local supermarket where she met the storeowner, Olga. Upon showing Olga the family pictures and a quick phone call to her father, Olga began to cry and exclaimed “My family from America!”

Olga is Timney’s second cousin, who introduced her to several other Italian relatives. Timney spent the rest of the day and next morning with her newly found family.

Reconnecting with her family was important to Timney because she said it filled a void in her life.

“I lost my grandfather during my sophomore year of high school. He was like a second dad to me. Now I was able to reconnect our family and I feel like I have another link to my grandfather.”

Since her visit to Italy, Timney’s family is already making plans to travel to the U.S. Her cousin Francesca will graduate from high school next year and wants to see America in the summer of 2014.

“Meeting my family still gives me chills when I think about it. It’s really surreal.”

Timney believes if she wouldn’t have traveled on the Summer 2013 Semester at Sea voyage she wouldn’t have tried to reconnect her family for many years.

“Through the SAS program I had a lot of financial help to get to Italy. This program has also made me more adventurous and encouraged me to travel to Ascoli Piceno and find my family. Every opportunity you take on an SAS voyage will be life changing.”

Victoria Hampton is a Journalism and Creative Writing major from Pacific University currently sailing on the summer 2013 Semester at Sea voyage.

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  • Life at Sea

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