4 sites · RVs, Tents80 acres · Ferndale, CaliforniaThere is a gentle spirit throughout these beautiful 80 acres of evergreen forests and pastures. My aunt and uncle bought it in 1947 from the first European settler, Paolo Gabrielli, who came to the U.S. in early 1914 from northern Italy with slips of his grapevine in the lining of his coat. Paolo left his wife, Felicita, and their three children behind; they were to follow within the year. In the country outside of Ferndale, California, he purchased the property, one mile from the ocean, and built a Tyrolean-style house, a chicken house (with a grappa still under the main floor), an outhouse, a corral, and a barn. He purchased 7 cows. And then, it was August 1914, and the War to End All Wars broke out in Europe. Felicita and the children, living in a village on the Austrian border, were interned in a prison camp in Austria with the rest of the village's residents. The Gabriellis' young daughter died there. Six years passed before Felicita, Virgil and Louis were able to join Paolo in America. In 1938, Virgil--Fr. Gino--became the first Ferndale boy to serve Mass in his home town church. Felicita died in 1940, and Paolo closed the dairy and moved into Ferndale to live with Louis and his family. In 2014, we invited to lunch all the people who had been children in the 1920s and '30s, and who had come to this ranch after Sunday Mass to gather with other Italian families for polenta, wine, and music. They came with photographs and maps and Mass cards and diaries, and shared their memories of a childhood in this place that still loved them.