My great-grandfather Angelo was pure blooded Italian, born and raised in the Old Country. He was also a redhead, with blue eyes and a temper to match. His wealthy family owned a pizzeria in Naples, and eventually open Prima Pizza in Cornwall, NY, now in its third generation and still in the family.
Growing up in Italy, Angelo fell in love with a poor farm girl, Rose. The only complication was she was set to become a nun, and already living in a convent. Being a redhead, however, Angelo was not deterred. He wooed her secretly over the convent garden wall, and when he was sent away to war, he wrote her love letters in his own blood. They were eventually married, moved to America and had ten children plus two adopted girls.
Luckily for him, he had chosen a saint as his bride. My great-grandmother Rose was as calm, humble and obedient as he was fiery, proud and rash. She must have realized her special calling in being married to a red-head. She used to say, in broken Italian, that it was her mission in life to “fight the evil through him!” Named after her, and married to a redhead myself, it seems she has passed that mission on to me.