Wednesday, September 30, 2009

L'öxé giòn 'd Sann’a (L’uccello giallo di Savona)

Dedicated with love to my cousin, Franca Perrone of Giusvalla

My cousin Franca was a young girl when her family moved from Giusvalla to Savona, where her father Lorenzo “Picciòn” had taken a job on the shipyard. Franca and her mother Anna “Palèn” went to work cleaning for families in the city.

Though Savona is just a few short miles from Giusvalla, Franca missed her friends from school and cousins back home. Her father didn’t like seeing his daughter so sad, so one day he arrived home with a surprise for Franca. It was a small yellow bird in a wire cage, and it sang sweetly as Franca removed the cloth covering the cage.

Franca talked to her little bird every day when she arrived home from work. The bird became accustomed to Franca’s voice and would sing gleefully when she would come into the room.

The morning of August 12, 1944 started like any other for Franca and her family. Franca and her parents departed early in the morning for work. As was her custom, Franca bid her little bird goodbye before heading out the door. Later that same morning, World War II greeted the Italian Riviera swiftly and violently when the city of Savona was bombed by the Germans. Franca’s home by the port was hit directly.

Franca and her family arrived home after the attack to a pile of rubble. Poor Franca cried out for her little bird, her fear and grief overwhelming her. At that very moment, from beneath a section of the rubble, Franca and her family heard the little bird begin to sing sweetly. When her father lifted some broken pieces of wood, Franca was astonished to see her bird in its cage sitting there amid the devastation, completely unharmed.

So began the story of “l'öxé giòn 'd Sann’a ,” that miraculous little yellow bird that showed my cousin Franca that she too could survive life's most difficult trials. And she has.

At mand un bashén con tant piashi, Franca, at vöj ben!

In the picture: View of the port of Savona (April 2009), near the location of Franca’s home in 1944.

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