Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Ceri – My Father’s Birthplace

Not far from Rome – about 27 kilometers northwest – is a small hill town, Ceri, a commune of Cerveteri (chair Ve TERI), which must have been a defensive stronghold for whomever occupied it over the centuries. Cerveteri is one of the many necropolises left by the Etruscan civilization. In the 6th Century it was a culturally rich town, trading with Greece and controlling a large area along the coast. There is only one entrance to the town, now controlled by a signal light at the bottom and at the top. We waited a few moments before the light turned green, and then cautiously proceeded up a steep and very narrow passageway. The Fiat Punto we’re driving made it fine, but within inches on both sides. There's a piazza at the top. My father was born in one of the houses, but which one is unknown. When I asked the shopkeeper if there were any Amoris there, she said she never heard of any. I asked if there was a cemetery, there was and she directed us to the location, but indicated that it was very small.

The entrance is to the left of that low stone wall on the right.

This is a better photo of the entrance. The firemen helped orient us as well as to tell us to wait for the green light.

The arch that is seen in the previous photo

The narrow road leading to the top

The piazza at the top.

My father left Ceri with his parents, but we have no idea when that occurred.

The Church of the Madonna of Ceri

A fresco inside the church

We went to the small cemetery located not far from the exit to the city and talked with the caretaker. Interestingly, Amadeo was born in my mother’s home town of Palombara di Sabina. He left Palombara when he was two to move to Ceri. He didn’t recognize the Amori name, but suggested we look at all the names inside the mausoleum. He also suggested that we go to the county seat – Cerveteri -where there are 3 cemeteries. Amadeo said that the distance from Ceri to Palombara was about 50 kilometers. My father was born in 1886, one of 6 kids suggesting that my grandparents had quite a trek to get to Palombara, most probably with horses and carts, but perhaps some of them on foot as well. Since my grandfather was working for a “Prince,” it’s also possible that he received some special treatment with regard to transportation. My grandfather became the “administrator” of a large trek of land owned by the Prince who lived in a 10 century castle in Palombara. My grandparents had an apartment attached to the castle.

Looking down from the top

Another narrow street.

We met a group of Italians from Rome, who were visiting, but they had no knowledge of the Ceri; two of them had worked in Australia and spoke good English, despite not speaking the language for many years. They were a delightful group – two of whom were born in Sardinia.

We directed ourselves to Cerveteri, but took a wrong turn somewhere and wound up near a major highway. At that point, now early afternoon and had not yet checked into our hotel so we decided to return another day to explore Cerveteri cemeteries.

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