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Love Story: Easter Monday holiday of Madonna dell' Arco brought them together

Rosa and Antonio Vacchiano of West Babylon were

Rosa and Antonio Vacchiano of West Babylon were married in Italy in March 1968. They celebrated their 51st anniversary on March 23. Credit: Vacchiano Family

Rosa Vacchiano of West Babylon recalls her first meeting with her husband, Antonio.

Our love story started in 1965 in our hometown of Cicciano in Naples, Italy.

One day, while I was home helping my mother clean the house, I argued with her and walked outside. At that moment I saw Antonio Vacchiano pass by on a scooter. He was a mechanic in our town. He looked at me with his beautiful eyes. It was such an intense look that, being angry, I said: “What do you have to look at?” He then gave me an angry look and rode away.

Although we lived in the same town, we did not meet again until Easter Monday in 1966. In Italy, the day after Easter Sunday is a holiday to honor the Madonna dell' Arco. We celebrate by getting together with friends or relatives for a picnic.

I decided to picnic in the mountains with my friends. We prepared good things to eat then went to the town square hoping to find a taxi. There were no taxis that day, so we asked another friend to drive us to a town called Avella, about 20 minutes away.

In the car there was another young man. It was Antonio. I didn’t recognize him at first and said, “I am Rosa Lauro.” Antonio, or Tony as he was called, remembered me.

We had a fantastic day. Tony was a warm and kind person who stole my heart. He conquered me totally. I was 21, and he was 25.

When we returned home that evening we all decided to go dancing at a friend’s home. From then on, Tony and I would meet in the evenings with our friends in the town square, where all the young people gathered.

Several months went by, and convinced of our love for each other, Tony took me home one evening and introduced himself to my parents. A few days later he brought his parents to my house, officially announcing our engagement.

My parents, along with my brother and sister, decided to immigrate to America in 1968. Tony and I knew we had to marry before they left otherwise I would have to leave with them. So, on March 23, 1968, we were married.

Four months later, we decided to move to America, too, and sailed on the SS Michelangelo. We settled near my family in Jersey City, New Jersey.

It was not easy being far away from relatives, friends and traditions, but we overcame the difficulties.

In 1969, we moved to Mineola after Tony and his friend opened an Amoco service and gas station there. We knew the joy of being parents when our daughter was born that year and again when our son was born in 1971.

In 1976, we had another dream come true when we bought our home in West Babylon where we live today.

Meanwhile, our children have met and married two wonderful people and have made us the grandparents of four fantastic grandchildren. We are very proud of them.

I retired in 2005 from Clinique, where I processed orders for department stores. I now work at Costco in Melville doing food presentations. My husband retired in 2015. There is more time now to spend with our grandchildren, who are our life.

We returned to Cicciano, Italy, last year to celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary with relatives and friends. We renewed our vows with the same priest who officiated at our wedding. We then toured Italy with our children and grandchildren.

I thank God for giving me such a beautiful family.

— With Virginia Dunleavy

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