PITTSTON — Cousins Marco and Maurizio La Fratta always dreamed of coming to America. This past week, their dream came true.
The two cousins traveled from San Giacomo degli Schiavoni and spent three weeks traveling across from the west coast before making their way here.
“When we watch films, a lot of time we see a lot of beautiful places and beautiful stories from America,” said Marco. “Italian boys like us, it’s like a dream. We know that Italy is beautiful, but America for us is like another world. But, when we come here we say America is different than Italy but people are like us. We’re very similar.”
Along the way, the cousins visited many places such as Los Angeles, the Grand Canyon, Four Corner, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Washington D.C. and, after Pittston, they planned to visi New York City.
San Giacomo degli Schiavoni is considered Pittston’s sister city and a proclamation was made in 2014.
“We share so many people in common,” said Pittston City Administrator Joe Moskovitz. “They have a lot of roots here, so we share ancestors.”
Maurizio, 32, and Marco, 33, were put in touch with Joe Insogna Jr., a former Pittston resident who now resides in Linden, New Jersey. Insogna put the cousins in touch with a distant relative, Jason Healey, of Hughestown.
Insogna drove in from New Jersey to meet the cousins upon their arrival.
“I’m retired so I figured why not?” Insogna said.
Marco said the men chose to visit Pittston because of the history it shares with their hometown.
“We know that a lot of people from our town 100 years ago, or more, came here to work in the coal mines,” he said.
The two were given a tour of Pittston by mayor Michael Lombardo and saw the Pittston Memorial Library, the Heritage Mural, the Inspiration Mural, various art sculptures, the Christopher Columbus statue and were treated to lunch at Callahan’s Cafe.
The art captured Marco and Maurizio’s attention the most.
“We enjoyed a lot of the pictures on the walls because, and I say to your mayor, that he’s a good mayor because he lets the artist have his space which is a very good thing,” Marco said. “This makes your city more beautiful and the city is very beautiful.”
The two hope to return to Pittston someday, and Lombardo hopes to have them back while also looking to set up travel arrangements to send residents to San Giacomo degli Schiavoni.
“It’s really an honor to have both of them here and it’s great to experience other cultures,” Lombardo said. “One of the things I’ve always loved about our city is when you come here, you’re friends and family, and it’s clear that both of these guys are friends and family already. I think it’s motivated us to do the counter trip in return; we’re looking forward to doing that.”
Reach Jimmy Fisher at 570-704-3972 or on Twitter @SD_JimmyFisher