I was in Florence last year and heard Leonardo Ferragamo the CEO of Ferragamo Shoes give a speech which included the history of his family. Florence is his hometown which he was very proud of. The Ferragamo Museum was one block away storing all their historical artifacts. He started telling the audience how his family was celebrating their 100th Anniversary where his father Salvatore moved to America 100 years ago. He went on to say that Salvatore landed at Ellis Island in New York’s harbor and then he found his way to Los Angeles where he became famous making shoes for his Hollywood clientele. After his speech I approached him and said we have allot in common since my family was also celebrating their 100th anniversary arriving from Italy. Excitingly we starting exchanging dates and business cards. He said, my family arrived April 7th 1915 and I said, I think mine was sometime in March. I left off that I would check the Ellis Island the records on my return to New York.
Well one week later I emailed him a photo of my families boat called the “Re d’ Italia” which means King of Italy and the ships registery. It appeared from the ships records my family arrived the same day as his on April 7th 1915. Ten minutes later he e-mail me a photo of his boat called La Stampela. It was confirmed our families did arrived at Elis Island on the very same day but in two different boats.
Here is what I believed happened 100 years ago: La Stampela left Naples and Re d’ Italia left Sicily during the same period and they traveled across the Atlantic Ocean together. Knowing my history, I knew WWI was already was ongoing for about a year and Italy entered the war against the Germans later that year in August. When Leonardo’s families boat left Naples they sailed to Sicily meeting mine and together they escaped the terrors of World War I. During this time the German U2 submarines were sinking cruise liners if they thought they were carrying munitions. Our ships traveled together in case one was attacked and was sinking.