Monday, January 22, 2007

Postcard from Calitri

     I was in the little paese on the hill for Christmas. For Italians the holiday is all about the presepe - and not about how many shopping days left. Thankfully. The weather was cold and wintry though sadly it did not snow on the hill once. I am a big believer in snow at Christmas even so my Calitri experience was all that I had hoped for, with fresh Christmas trees and little tiny lites throughout the town, wild mistletoe to hang over the door (collected together in the woods with my own wild man Peppino) the aroma of homemade breads and cakes in ovens nearby, and a surprise gift from zia Maria - the biggest rosary I have ever seen!

     My October article in 'The American' was re-published in the town magazine. The December launch marked the re-birth of Calitri's own journal 'L'Ofanto' after 2+ years lying dormant. With new editorial staff headed by close friend and professor of letters in Latin, Enza Cubelli, new manifest and logo and design and my own B/W photos on the front and back covers, you can couldn't say it was long in coming.

     The presentation of the new publication was held in the town meeting hall the Casa del xEca - built in the 1930's with fascist government funds of none other than Benito Mussolini and fully restored just last year. With full attendance the hall was buzzing with mostly townsmen, few wives, the newly elected mayor and his staff, the staff and officials of Calitri's chamber of commerce, the Pro Loco, as well as local (and regional) artists, architects, professors and writers, family and friends. After the initial introduction, I was asked to speak. Va-clempt, (sp?) nervous, and barely able to hold my own in my adopted language, the room none the less erupted in applause. I was overwhelmed. Italians love their home towns and are keenly proud when outsiders adore it with them.

     Our New Year was celebrated with intimate dinner parties dancing and fireworks. From my balcony in la Cascina in the Centro Storico, we could view the midnight-black hills of nearby communities of Basilicata ablaze with fuochi artigianali.