I have found my grandfathers family in Vallelunga Pratameno. I have written in Italian using a translation site. I wrote to him that I thought he was my cousin, which he is.. my dad is his first cousin. He wrote me back in English, after me telling him that I spoke no Italian. The first part of the letter reads:
"You have reason, I am not your cousin but I am first cousin of your father, but in Italy to say thus."
I am unsure what he means here. He does not start letters with Dear, but instead Hello. I don't want to write in a way they are not custom to. Can someone help me understand how to write properly?
Probably he meant that you are not first-grade cousins (children of siblings), but that in Italy the word cousin has sometimes a wider sense (same as in English, I believe).
"Dear" in Italy is normally used when you are intimate with someone (just a general rule with lot of exception of course ;o) ). If he used "hello", I think the best thing is to do the same. There's no real difference actually. Personally I use "hello" (ciao) with my family!
Marco, Milano, Italia
It looks to me like he did the same as you. He wrote in Italian, and translated it into English using an online translator. It's the opening phrase that gives it away.
"Hai ragione" translates literally as "You have reason", but the correct translation in this context would be "You're right". Perhaps it would be better for him to write to you in Italian, so at least you have an accurate account of what he meant, even if you don't understand it without translating it.
I agree wholeheartedly with Marco in that you're splitting hairs with the Dear vs. Ciao argument. If you really want to understand how to write properly, then you will just have to learn to speak Italian. In the mean time, just write anyway. I'm sure he'll forgive a few clunky phrases. He is family after all.
Thank you for the information. I am just so excited about hearing from my family, who has always been a mystery to me. My grandfather did not talk about his family at all. My father never even knew his Grandmothers name. I have found that I am named after her and hope this made my grandfather happy. Now to plan a trip to Vallelunga !!!