Homemade Ravioli

A place for Quattrones, Betteridges, and Praticos to share our family stories, history, and heritage.

In Rome with Nuncie: The “scam artist”

quattrone010The first Quattrone visit to Italy in August 1969 had some funny moments. My parents ( Nuncie & LuLu) , flew over a few weeks ahead of me to visit my Mom’s sister, who lived in Abbruzzi. Beppa & Aunt Connie were on their plane, and visited Pellaro in Calabria.

To put this story in context, we must remember that the six children of Ferdinando were all very frugal, a product of their depression era upbringing. If something was free they were first in line .If something was ripe for the taking, it was in their pocket, or in this case sleeve, or suitcase.

In the ’80s, I remember my Dad & Aunt Connie would line up at 19th & Oregon Sts. once a month to get a 2 feet long brick of free orange velvetta “government cheese”, off the back of a truck. The siblings would also compare notes about their collection of packets of sugar, mustard and ketchup from various South Philly fast food restaurants.

But back to my Rome story. I think it was Emperor Marcus Aurelius who said ,” You can take a Quattrone out of South Philly, but you can’t take South Philly out of him.” My friend Fred Gallo ( 2600 block of Darien St.),and I met my parents in a touristy Rome restaurant, for a night of dining al fresco .A few feet away some Italians screamed “topo” (mouse)and jumped up as it scurried back and forth a few times. My Mom hated mice, and went into her high anxiety mode, reminding us that we best not order meat. I stuck with the marinara sauce over ziti.
At the end of the meal my Dad wanted to take a metal fork (there were no plastic utensils in Europe ) back to the hotel room for some late night snack. We laughed and pleaded for him not to do it, but he hid the fork up the sleeve of his shirt. I think this action was my Father’s revenge on Italy for charging what he considered to be a rip off of tourists for food and lodging.
We paid the bill and as we were leaving the outdoor café with large amount of patrons and waiters, the fork clanged down to the Roman pavement. We sheepishly quickly walked away, with a case of the giggles.
Dad still hadn’t learned his lesson. He loved the thick big white towels in the modest family run small Hotel Atlas. The next day, as we were checking out the owner’s son, said “Scusi, Signore Quattrone, we no find one of the white towels in your room. Can you help us?”
My Dad stammered that he had no idea where it was, and that maybe the maid took it. I was turning red, and whispered to Dad to give a big tip, so we could make it to the Rome airport, and not the Slammer. He thanked the owner and his son, and gave both a big tip to allow for a graceful exit. Dad had his “free” souvenir of Rome, and delighted in retelling it to Beppa & Aunt Connie on that Alitalia flight back to South Philly.


4 comments on “In Rome with Nuncie: The “scam artist”

  1. briank925
    February 5, 2015

    Great story, Fred!

    When I was an undergraduate at Temple University (1986-1990), Aunt Connie would give me a two-foot long block of orange government cheese all the time. My friends would laugh at me, but the cheap cheese went with the cheap beer we were drinking so what’s the difference?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. joanl777
    February 5, 2015

    Great story Fred.


  3. mbqhclover
    February 14, 2015

    Love this story. One of my favorite memories (& most useful in my adult life!) was going to the grocery store @ 23rd& Oregon with Uncle Nuncie. I can’t remember the reason why I was with him (he & aunt Lou were my godparents BTW) but he was the first person to teach me how to read the pricing labels on the store shelves to see what the best bargain was. I know this is common practice now, but this was the early 70’s when I was a teenager & never heard of such a thing. ‘Til this day, When I’m food shopping, I often get a flash of uncle Nuncie explaining to me in great detail how to read the labels to get the best bargain.
    Warm, happy loving memories of Uncle Nuncie & Aunt Lou Lou.


  4. fmquattro
    February 15, 2015

    Wow-thanks Mary Beth…Nice vignette…. I did not know they were your godparents …Thinking of 23rd & Oregon reminds me of your hard working Dad working at part time at Sears. I can recall my Dad telling me to see him & try to get his 10% employee discount.


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