VATICAN CITY.— Pope Francis is visiting his relatives this weekend in Asti, a city in the Piedmont region of northwestern Italy, where he will eat his favorite dish: bagna cauda.
He makes this visit on the occasion of the 90th birthday of his cousin Carla Rabezzana, at a family meal that is also attended by five other cousins and their families who traveled from Turin, Vaglierano and Tigliole, all cities in Piedmont.
“For a long time I wanted to spend a few hours with my relatives in my family places. Before being Pope he often went to the Asti area, it was a custom: when he arrived in Rome as provincial of the Jesuits of Argentina, or as archbishop to participate in a synod. Each time I went through Piedmont to see my father’s cousins. With the older cousin, Carla, we often talk on the phone. Tomorrow (for today) we will meet with five other cousins, and this fills me with joy”, explains Francisco in an interview published yesterday in the Turin newspaper “La Stampa”.
And Francisco waits for his cousin to prepare the famous “bagna cauda”, one of his favorite dishes from Piedmont, a kind of sauce made from garlic and anchovies that is eaten with vegetables.
“For Saturday lunch, the other cousins and I will prepare some roast meat and lots of vegetables, he eats them a lot, especially now, and then the bonet, the cocoa-based pudding typical of Piedmontese cuisine. We will eat the birthday cake on Sunday, at lunch with the bishop, after mass,” Carla revealed to the Vatican media.
He then explains that he often speaks with the Pope “in Piedmontese, because he is very attached to this land, which he considers his own, not just his parents’, and he understands the dialect very well, since his grandparents only spoke dialect.”
“I will hug him first, because we haven’t seen each other for three years, since the end of 2019, before the pandemic, when I went with my family to the Vatican. And then we’ll chat, as we do at least once a month on the phone, like loving relatives. I’ll ask about his knee, which hurts now. He tells me this when we talk on the phone”, adds Carla.
Today, Francisco spends the whole afternoon with his relatives in a completely private meeting, while tomorrow, November 20, when the feast of Christ the King is celebrated, he will officiate the mass in the cathedral of Asti to “embrace the local community of the that their parents left to emigrate to Argentina”, they explain from the diocese.
In June 2015, he had been on an official visit to Turin and was also able to hug his family on that occasion.
But since his election in 2013, the Asti city council has insistently asked the Pope to return to the land of his grandparents with invitations as original as a bottle of Grignolino, the local wine, with a special label: “Ast t’aspeta a bras”. duert” (Asti awaits you with open arms).— EFE
According to the Pontiff’s family tree reconstructed by the Asti City Council, the great-great-grandfather Giuseppe Bergoglio was born in 1816 in the village of Schierano, while the great-great-grandmother Gioacchino Maria, Antonio’s daughter, was born in 1819 in Cocconato d’Asti.
His grandfather, Giovanni Bergoglio (1884) emigrated to Turin in 1906 and married Rosa Vassallo, a native of Piana Crixia (Liguria), while the father of the Pontiff, Mario Bergoglio, was born in Turin in 1908, the family returned to Asti, where he opened a grocery store before emigrating to Argentina.
The father and mother of the Pope, Regina Sivori, from Savona (Liguria), and the grandparents of the future Pontiff left for Buenos Aires on February 1, 1929.