|Ralph Bruno - February 2011|
|Written by Una Vita Foundation|
|Wednesday, 01 June 2011 00:00|
Ralph Bruno may not have grown up in Italy, but he has lived a life filled with Italian traditions. A second-‐generation Italian, Bruno's parents came to the U.S. from Italy. His mother and grandparents emigrated from Fornelli, his father, from the village of Raviscanina.
Bruno began his life in Coventry, Rhode Island a place populated by a large number of Italian immigrants. During his early years, they met at places like the Torino Social Club, a center for social activities. They also stayed true to many cultural traditions, celebrating exuberant Italian weddings that mirrored those held back home. Bruno's father spent much time shopping at the local markets in the Italian section of Providence called Federal Hill to buy grapes to make his own wine. Bruno says being part of a tight-‐knit Italian community helped him stay on the right track growing up.
While Bruno early years were steeped in Italian traditions, it wasn't until World War II that he first traveled to Italy. During the war Bruno, and army Lieutenant was stationed in Oran, Algeria. One day he was told to board a ship in the port of Oran that took him to Naples. His first night in his ancestral land was spent listening to German planes bomb the harbor. But his time in Italy was not all focused on warfare. He recalls a day he slipped away by himself, eating in wonderful restaurants and visiting the opera. During his time in Italy he also took a trip to Raviscanina, where he shared an emotional meeting with his 92-‐year-‐old grandfather whom he had never met. “He realized who I was and he started to cry. It was a momentous moment in my life as well as his, because he had never met any of the offspring of his three sons he had sent to America,” said Bruno.
Later in the war Bruno's unit helped to liberate Rome. He came home with a purple heart and memories of his grandfather who died before he was able to return to Italy for a promised visit.
Bruno says that he hopes that the way of life in villages like Raviscanina can be preserved.
“In my judgment families of prior generations tended to be closer to each other than present generations. I guess it is mostly due to fast plane travel that takes people all over the world in hours. They can relocate and find jobs that were not available in the past, sometimes many thousands of miles away,” wrote Bruno in a memoir he penned for friends and family.
The mission of the Una Vita Foundation is an important one, he says. He'd like to see more people have the opportunity to stay in small villages and share the strong family bonds that have been so important in his own life.Download English Version