Archived Story

Family roots draw Pearsons to Italy

Published 10:36am Wednesday, June 1, 2011

In my latest feature, we are to visit Italy again.

A knitter, two painters, a horsewoman and a wine expert have all talked about this glorious place, and I believe a pattern is emerging. Italy may be the favorite world destination of Polk County residents.

This time, we see it from the worldview of a photographer, taking a journey to visit her family roots.

Who: Elaine Pearsons, Columbus. Pearsons is originally from New England, but has been in the Polk County area since 1986. She is a professional photographer, who brings colors to life, and teaches interesting techniques for embellishing photos in a new way.

Where’ve You Been? Italy, to the Piedmont region, to connect with family roots. Pearsons’ mother’s name is Cesarina (Little Female Caesar) Bianco. Pearsons’ brother is a pastor, and he had a speaking engagement in Nice, France, in April 2011.

The sister and brother pair decided to go together, rent a car and drive from Nice, through Monaco, a tiny, wealthy nation on the Riviera, to Italy.

Their family is from a town called Montaldo Scarampi, a tiny dot on the map, in the northern part of Italy, near the city of Asti, east of Turin.

Pearsons and her immediate family traveled there 30 years ago, and stayed with her great aunt and uncle.

Back then, she remembered the beautiful fresco that was painted on the ceiling.

Thirty years later, she captured a picture of it. Her great uncle and aunt are living vibrant lives in their 90s! She also caught up with a nephew from Montaldo, and a niece living in Turin.

Loved: The drive itself, which changed from beautiful cliffside dwellings along the French Riviera, to what Pearsons refers to as “Blue Ridge Parkway style tunnels, times two.”

Crossing into the Piedmont region requires passing through tunnel after tunnel through the majestic Alps.

She loved the colors of the architecture, from the ornate cathedrals and villas, to the simple, but ancient vecchios and cottages.

She took joy in the details – the look of the doors and windows, and the haze of an early spring day, set against hillsides of terraced vineyards.

Most people have their own vineyards, and make and often sell their own wine. Small or large, there are many more vineyards than in the United States.

Pearsons is in love with Italian food as served in Italy.

She said she still dreams of the tortellini she had in a village restaurant, and how the “welcome home” meals cooked by her great uncle’s family made dinner a whole new affair.

Pearsons only warns that pasta is a third course, and it is so good, that one must remember to save room for the other courses, which can be up to seven in an everyday meal!

She was touched by the people she met – both strangers and family members – and remarks that “la dolce vita” can mean “sweet,” in the way of kind and warm.

Now, she emails photos back and forth with her English-speaking nephew, of two lives in two respectively beautiful places.

How sweet life can be!

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