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The Trip Over

June 10, 2019

Looking out my window in Italy today, I thought of this post. Things were certainly different then!


Few of us are old enough to remember. Still fewer of us can even imagine.

Coming to America in the 19th century was a far stretch from coming to America today. First, there were no jet planes to whisk you from one continent to another in 10 hours. The crossing was by ship and it usually took 8 to 10 days of often super uncomfortable travel. My grandparents made this long trip several times.

Many, many Italians and Tiroleans traveled to America on the SS La Bretagne. The ship sailed from between 1886 and 1923 and carried thousands to a waiting Ellis Island on the Le Havre–New York route, initially with the Compagnie Générale Transatlantique (CGT) shipping company. My grandparents, Eugenio Rizzi and his wife Anna Flor made several trips to the U.S. on this vessel.

La Bretagne was launched 9 September 1885 by CGT in Saint-Nazaire. Built for France…

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  1. Interesting that they made so many back and forth trips. Earlier generations (those who came in sailing ships) rarely made the return trip – a one-way journey.

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    • My family made many return trip in an effort to resurrect their post-war life in Austria (which became Italy). After the death of my grandfather at 38, followed by that of my aunt at 14 (both heart attacks at the same table several months apart), my grandmother finally said farewell to her beloved Tirol which a war and early deaths had ruined for her. She never returned after 1921.

      Liked by 1 person

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