Rosa DeFelice Ficara | Ep 138

Rosa Ficara was born in Scafati, Italy- one of nine children.

In 1973, despite a bit of a language barrier, Rosa began a long-distance, letter-writing romance with the love of her life, Gioacchino, who brought her first to Connecticut, then to Yucca Valley, CA in the early 80’s.

At the age of seven, Rosa and two of her sisters were taken to a convent to live with nuns because it was difficult for her mother to take care of all the children. Rosa's mother visited weekly and once Rosa turned 17, she was able to re-join the family.

At 18, Rosa's sister-in-law had family friends living in Connecticut who were friends with Gioacchino Ficara, a single Sicilian man. Her sister-in-law sent him a picture of Rosa and they began talking and writing letters. In March of 1973, Gioacchino went to Scafati to meet Rosa with papers in hand with intentions to marry. Rosa's family had a hard time understanding him because he spoke Sicilian dialect but Rosa somehow understood him. On April 27, 1973 they were married in Scafati and had their wedding photos in the ruins of Pompei.

Gioacchino left to the U.S. to have immigration papers in order. On August 15, 1973 Rosa flew to Connecticut to start her American life with Gioacchino. In 1980, Rosa and Gioacchino left Connecticut with their two daughters Rosa and Carmela to start a new life in the desert - Yucca Valley. Rosa and Gioacchino came to join family Paolo (Gioacchino's brother), Pina his wife, and Rosa (Gioacchino's mother). Eventually Ignazio (Gioacchino's yonger brother) and his wife Roberta would move to Yucca Valley as well. Gioacchino and his brother Paolo started Ficara Paving. Rosa and Gioacchino had two more daughters, Maria Anna & Jacqueline.

Life in the desert was all about family, food and hard work. The first few years were difficult because of the language. It got easier as Rosa adapted and learned the language. It was different being in the desert - so different from Connecticut and Italy. It took a while to get used to it. In this episode, Rosa tells us when she arrived in Yucca Valley there was one grocery store, a Safeway, that didn't even carry baby food or diapers.

Gioacchino worked hard with his brother. He passed away in 2011 at the age of 68. It has been difficult for Rosa, as she misses 'Jack' so much. Now a grandmother of five, Rosa continues to cook and bake Italian food. Rosa continues to reside in Yucca Valley, tending to her garden and her chickens and is the only one of her nine siblings to have left Italy.