The origins of the Celati family are Tuscan; to be exact they are full-blooded Sangimignanese! From my great-grandparents to my father, everyone was born in San Gimignano. The entire building where our house is located has always been our family’s property and we cousins are today’s owners.
My parents met in the 1970s and they united their destiny with the destiny of their families. This is how the fates of my two grandmothers, Anna and Elena, intertwined. My mum lived her childhood and youth in this house, from the age of 8, when she arrived from the South, to the day she married my dad at 25.
Anna and Elena met in April 1972, on occasion of the first dinner to celebrate my parents’ engagement. The two women were similar in some ways, different in many others. They were both tireless workers, very attached to their families and a point of reference for their children, but quite different in culture and background. Elena was born in a humble Tuscan family of only women, with three sisters and a very authoritarian and meddlesome mother. Anna also came from a very poor family, she had two sisters and a brother and an equally strong and determined mother. They both married vigorous and decisive men.
Grandpa Nilo, Elena’s husband, was a lumberjack and traded in coal and firewood. Thanks to his flourishing business, his family enjoyed relative well-being and he left his children well-provided for. Elena was always by his side also in the management of the business and was his point of reference for their retail sales. Through her marriage, she totally changed her status. She had to work hard but she always had everything she needed to lead a respectable life.
Grandpa Carmine, Anna’s husband, was always ahead of his times. Most of his children, starting from my mother, take after him. To secure a better future for his five children, he didn’t hesitate to leave the South and come to Tuscany, with no resources and no particular skill or training, as until then he had only worked as a farmhand. He had a large family to support so he became a hodman and somehow managed to provide for their basic needs with his meagre salary and the money earned from the plot of land bought with a thirty-year mortgage. His wife managed the household with the few resources available, selflessly caring for her children.
They were two strong women who tackled life with courage and self-denial for their families, two real-life examples for us to follow.