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Calitri - The First Time


In 1985, Luisa and I were on a tour of Sicily and Italy.   As we were staying in Naples for a couple of days,it was arranged for my cousin, Annina Basile, to pick us up and bring us to Calitri for two days.  We had seen many photos of Calitri, but there is nothing like seeing it for the first time from the bottom of the Scala. It was like the opening scene for a Hollywood movie.  My Aunt Grace was living in an apartment with Michelina that Dr. 'Mimi' Tornillo had provided for them as their homes were comletely destroyed by the earthquake.  It was on the side that was not as bad as where my family's homes were.  Annina took us where Aunt Grace's house was.  All that was standing was the Arch and the front steps.  I saw what was left of my mother's house and what was left of the Galgano's house.  I had been warned that I would see myself coming towards me.  All of a sudden, Luisa yelled "Al - Al - look!" It was my second cousin Antonio DiCarlo who looked a lot like me. I met face to face with my DeMaio and Galgano cousins.  It was very exciting as anyone who has gone there for the first time will tell you.   The old Calitri houses were built one above each other up the mountain. It was amazing for us to be driven by Annina's Fiat between them.  That night we slept in Dr. Mimi's six-story   home. The bottom floor was his office that was like a small hospital.  I slept in one room and Luisa slept in another.  It also was like an apartment with a kitchen, library, bath, liquor room.  The next day as he was taking us back, he introduced us to his daughter, Serafina.  As she got in the car, he asked her where she was going, she replied: I spending the day with them.  This was fine with Luisa, as Serafina spoke English, having studied there.   We were able to see a lot as we had the perfect guide, Annina.  Sadly, it was time to return to Naples.. Yolanda Di Roma (we knew her as on a trip to America, we had her for dinner) gave us a tray of biscotti that we were able to bring home.  On the way back, we passed a sign that said "Gesualdo".  I told Annina that Luisa's grandparents were born there.   She then said: My best friend married someone from there, When I asked his name, she replied: "Fulcoli".  Wow! that was Luisa's grandmother's name.   She wanted to go there as it was only about 30 miles NW of Calitri.  We said it would have to wait until our next trip. .          You will have to wait for Part II to find out what we found out. Ciao for now - Luisa and Al


Thanks for you impressions of Old Calitri..."the first time."   What I found so amazing on our first trip in 1992 was the fact that not only are the houses built one above the other, but  there are no yards as we know them. There is just pavement or alley ways and stone staircases for travel from one section to place for even a TINY garden! Since my grandparents were both dedicated gardeners, I was quite surprised at this discovery. We were staying with my cousin Donato Cerreta at his home in the section known as Contrada Gagliano*, one of the areas on the outskirts of town where the inhabitants of the town proper have parcels of land that they keep for growing vegetables...some have grapes as well. Each day, early in the morning, I would hear cars come up the road to drop off people, mostly women, who would spend hours working in their gardens. We awoke each morning to the rhythmical sound of the "zappa" cultivating the unforgiving soil of their gardens. As I lay in our comfortable bed I couldn't help but think of what it must have taken for my grandfather, who lived in town, to travel by donkey up the long hill to Gagliano to work the family's garden. * I have posted some of our photos taken at Contrada Gagliano on the "Calitri Connections" website. Eleanor DeRosa Egger