As I reminisce over the recent past, I never would have thought the relationships with our family in Italy would had ever been created, let alone be this strong. To discover where my grandmother was born and raised and where my great-grandparents walked is a blessing and an honor. It has been surreal. In fact, the ongoing relationships forged with relatives in San Giovanni in Galdo has been unimaginable. To make it even better, these long-distance relationships have led to connections being created here in Ohio with people who have roots from San Giovanni in Galdo.
Let me start from the beginning. I’m originally from Cleveland, but now live in Columbus with my family. In the spring of 2015, I had a vision. I began producing my grandmothers’ pasta sauces to honor them and started selling the sauce at local farmers markets. De Massimo’s LLC was born four years later. We specialize in authentic sauces and importing products from my family’s villages in Italy. My wife and I had the opportunity to visit San Giovanni in Galdo, meet family and make new friends there in the fall of 2017, my first trip to Italy. Since then, the most amazing things have happened. I received the key to the village of San Giovanni in Galdo and was made an honorary citizen. I had the chance to visit again this past August; this time with my parents, sisters, wife, and children. We also got the chance to stay in my father’s village of Scurcola Marsicana, Abruzzo, Italia. Our family was also honored and recognized. Both villages were overwhelmed with the fact that my sauces and imports highlight and bring attention to their small towns. Recently, family from San Giovanni in Galdo visited and spent a week with us in Columbus, Cleveland and NYC. We had a great time! It was special for them to see the lands their people came to. It was an honor to stand with them and stare in amazement at Lady Liberty and walk in the halls and rooms of Ellis Island. However, the most remarkable moment took place when my wife, Bethany, and I had the opportunity to sit with Giovanni and Lucia (from San Giovanni in Galdo), Dennis Fiorilli and Mark Daniels, two Northeastern Ohioans who also have roots in the village, and listen to them make connections with each other and with us. Dennis spoke about his special visit six years ago and Mark with his tribute in wine making. We left there with another vision. We must connect our families from San Giovanni in Galdo with those who have roots there now living here in Ohio. San Giovanni in Galdo is a small village just outside of Campobasso, Molise, Italia. It has had a dwindling population since the early 1900s. The village recently received a grant from the EU and will begin carrying out their plan for regrowth. I have been chosen as their lead ambassador for representing their village here in the U.S. In the fall of 2020, we will be having a sort of “family reunion” in San Giovanni in Galdo.