Adventure Inspirational Fiction


By Lavinia M. Hughes

    I walked to my mailbox and took out the pile of mail within. As I walked back up the driveway, I flipped through the usual dreck that was delivered daily. No, I didn’t want to sell my house even if “inventory was down and property values were up” in my area. I didn’t want to buy life insurance, deeming that whole industry a scam. I DID want to take a look at the shoe catalog from England, because their shoes are very high quality, even if a bit “henny” as my best friend termed comfortable shoes. The slip from the post office, informing me that there was a certified mail letter requiring a signature, piqued my interest. 

    Nervous about this unusual bit of mail, I quickly grabbed my purse and car keys and drove to the post office. I presented the slip, signed where indicated, and the clerk gave me the letter. It was thin, had AIR MAIL stamped on it, and to my jaded American eyes, looked exotic. It was from Vizzini, Sicily, where my grandfather was from; he emigrated to Boston in 1908. The return address showed an attorney named Cloru Tramontana from the same town. How odd, I thought.  My Sicilian grandfather died in 1958. Most of our relatives came to America. What possible connection could his old town from over 100 years ago have to me?

    I raced home, put on the coffee, and opened the letter. Luckily, Attorney Tramontana wrote it in English as my Sicilian is pretty much limited to the words for “idiot”, “stomach ache”, “eat”, “you Son-of-a-bitch”, “damn the misery”, “the vineyard is on fire”, and oddly enough, “dish with sides,” none of which would help me navigate a legal document.

Cloru Tramontana, Rappresentante Legale

Licensed in Sicily

Via Regina Elena 55

95049 Vizzini



il 10 September 2019

Ms. Seraphina Castellucci

1315 Blueberry Pie Lane

Falmouth, MA 02540


Dear Signorina Castellucci:

    It has come to my attention that you are the next of kin to Mr. Giovi Martino, who recently became late in July of 2019. Mr. Martino, with whom you may not be acquainted, is the son of your grandfather Michael Castellucci, which made him your uncle.  Apparently, Mr. Martino was conceived on your grandfather’s trip to Sicily in 1940 in a casual liaison with a woman named Concettina Martino. 

    Since the war broke out in Europe around that time, your grandfather was unable to travel back to Sicily to help her out or even send funds. Mr. Martino, nevertheless, being a strong and determined Sicilian, managed to rise above his illegitimate and poor circumstances and eventually founded a car company called Scoperta Macchina. 

    I have been tasked, upon Mr. Martino’s passing, to find you and tell you that the Scoperta Macchina car company has done extremely well, has just been sold, in accordance with his wishes, and the proceeds held in an Italian bank account for you. Mr. Martino always regretted not finding you sooner on his several trips to the United States. Sadly, his last few years, once he had learned of your existence, were spent in a wheelchair due to a terminal disease.

    Mr. Martino expressed in his will that he had one condition for you to receive your €2,000,000, which converts to $2,431,308.93 in U.S. Dollars. Since he did have the highest esteem for family and home, he wishes for you to travel to Vizzini, Sicily, and pick up your check at my office. Mr. Martino was well aware that in these modern times, funds can be wired. But he wants you to experience the village of your beloved grandfather in all its beauty. It is certainly a changed place for the better from when your grandfather Mr. Castellucci left in 1908, which I understand was a time of hunger and poverty for the village.

    I will send you a plane ticket, which will bring you from Boston, MA, to Catania Airport. We will have a limo awaiting you to transport you to our offices in Vizzini. 

    Kindly acknowledge that you will be making this trip. We look forward to assisting you in any way possible.

Cordiali saluti,

Signor Cloru Tramontana

Rappresentante Legale   

    I was shocked. First of all, I wondered if it was legitimate, second, I wondered if I had the guts to travel practically halfway across the world on what could be a wild goose chase. Third, from what my dad told me about his dad’s (Grandpa Castellucci) description of his village, Vizzini was a poverty-stricken backwater in the Mafia-laden mountains of Sicily, and it would help if you had a mountain goat to guide you through the rough and steep terrain. I couldn’t imagine that it had improved. Dad told me that there was so little food, that the villagers were forced to go into the fields, pick dandelions, and boil up the greens for supper. He also said his dad had one donkey, which they fed less and less, and the poor donkey died. They ended up eating the donkey. 

    I had hiked many times in my youth, but New Hampshire is no match for what I saw when I kicked up the Sicilian websites. I never liked driving or even riding on steep mountain roads. What should I do? I decided to talk to my boss about it at the law office where I worked. 

    I showed my boss, Mr. DeFranco, the letter and asked him if he could find out if it was legitimate. I knew how to look up attorneys in our state on the BBO (Board of Bar Overseers) to see if they were active, but international information was another story. Mr. DeFranco quickly ascertained that there was, in fact, a Cloru Tramontana in Vizzini, Sicily, and he was a licensed attorney.

    “So Seraphina, when are you going? You do have two weeks’ unused vacation time.”

    “Geez, boss, are you trying to get rid of me? I haven’t traveled in a while. I don’t even remember the last time I was on a plane,” I said.

    “What’s that got to do with anything? You said you like to write, right? I have a feeling you’ll come back with plenty of stories after this. Go. We’ll get a temp. Come back with stories and maybe bring me back some of that excellent Italian chocolate.”

    So I found myself on an Alitalia flight with a layover in Lisbon, Portugal, then Rome, then after another interminable wait, it flew from Rome to Catania Airport. My neck and back were stiff from all the sitting. I was pissed off because the kid behind me kicked my seat all the way from Boston to Portugal, and I had a cloying sweetness in my mouth because I foolishly filled up on a Cinnabon.  I was always looking for a toilet and I lost all track of time and time zones. I wasn’t even there yet and I wanted to go home. 

    I got off the plane in Catania, Sicily, and was happy to see a new, gold-colored Mercedes sedan with a chauffeur standing in front of it with “Signorina Castellucci” on a handwritten sign. I greeted him in one of the few Sicilian phrases I had learned with “Ciau” to which he smiled and replied with something that I assumed was “fine” but I couldn’t be sure. He put my bags in the trunk and we were off.

    I belted myself in, which drew a smirk from the chauffeur, and it was a good thing I did. Sicily looked like a most beautiful and scenic place from the air but the chauffeur drove so fast that scenery went by in a flash. Apparently speed limits are merely seen as guidelines and not a definite thing in this crazy country of my grandfather’s birth. Up steep mountain roads, down the other side of the steep mountain roads, at degrees that I am pretty sure no civil engineer would approve of, taking switchbacks at a high rate of speed, he drove me to the village of Vizzini in about 20 minutes. I was glad it was over, but my heart was beating wildly and my hair was stuck to my head in a cold sweat. 

    After I checked in to the lodgings they chose for me—a lovely Bed & Breakfast hosted by a grandmotherly type named Itria Cataldo—I called the attorney and we set up a time to meet the next day.  Signora Cataldo encouraged me, with typical Sicilian urgency, to sample her fresh-baked almond and fig cookies. Obeying her command, I sampled them and washed them down with her strong coffee and was transported to a land of pastry heaven.

I had the afternoon to rest up a bit, and then explore the neighborhood. The town was much larger than my dad had led me to believe. I always pictured it as a one-horse town with about 12 stucco-sided hovels. It was not. Instead, it had hundreds of well-appointed stucco houses with flower-filled window boxes, happy tourists, and the smell of Chicken Marsala and fried eggplant filled my nostrils. I started to cry because my poor grandfather would have loved his town to be like this.

    The next day, I met with Attorney Tramontana, who first insisted that we tour the town. He showed me all the scenic sights I hadn’t seen the day before and we ended our tour at the town square where there was a beautiful cathedral, the heart of the town. After dining at the best restaurant in town on their specialty, fried squid, it was time for me to go home. Mr. Tramontana presented me with the over $2 Million cashier’s check and he told me had a surprise for me.

    I was dreading the ride back to the airport, as I never fancied myself a race car driver. I didn’t even like roller coasters or thrill rides. 

    “Do you hear that?” he asked.

    “I hear a helicopter,” I said.

    “Esattamente! It’s for you!” he beamed.

    I groaned inwardly, wondering if the helicopter ride was better or worse than the racing car experience I had in getting here.

    We walked to the helipad and I was instructed to duck as I approached the helicopter, which I did, having a vivid imagination as to what would happen if I didn’t. I buckled myself in, put on the headphones, because it was as loud as hell, waved goodbye to Mr. Tramontana, and it lifted us straight up into the sky. My stomach was back on the ground. It was weird and unsettling. But I made it to Catania Airport in five minutes. A long flight seemed like something to look forward to after the crazy mountain roads and the helicopter. 

    But for all of my fear, discomfort, and uncertainty about what I’d find in Vizzini, I reminded myself that in 1908 my little 5-foot tall grandpa had been starving, left the only home he ever knew at a young age, took a ship to Marseille, France, learned French, lived there for a while, then took another ship with a berth in steerage and after weeks of being tossed and turned in a perpetually angry Atlantic ocean, made it to New York’s Ellis Island in America. My modern discomforts are nothing compared to that kind of faith in the future. Thank you, Grandpa.

# END #

December 17, 2020 16:44

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.


06:59 Dec 24, 2020

This is a good story. I think maybe you could use a bit more dialogue? I struggle to use dialogue with my own stories!


Lavinia Hughes
21:32 Dec 24, 2020

Yes, I have to remind myself to turn my thoughts into dialogue. Thank you for reading my story!


Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Kate MacGuire
22:28 Dec 23, 2020

You have a gift for descriptions and language. The voice of the Italian attorney in the letter to Seraphina was spot on!! I loved the idea and would only suggest adding more conflict to keep readers hooked and engaged. Great job!


Lavinia Hughes
21:35 Dec 24, 2020

Thank you for your kind words. The prompt said "out of your comfort zone" so if I took this trip on numerous flights with scary mountain roads, that seemed like a lot of conflict for me. But I could have added more things that go wrong on a trip as part of the plot.


Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply