It’s been a long time coming, but I can finally say that in just a few months we will be headed to Calitri. Since spending one night there 12 years ago I’ve been longing to return and really get to know the birthplace of my maternal grandparents. Both my grandfather and grandmother emigrated from this small hilltop town located in southern Campania not far from both the borders of Puglia to the east and Basilicata to the south.
At the time of our visit much of the old “borgo” was in the beginning stages of renovation. After the earthquake of 1980 that rocked much of the surrounding area, many of Calitri’s residents left the old town which had been damaged and relocated to a newer buildings across the valley. Twelve years later the centro storico is thriving. Families have moved back into the refurbished homes and foreigners have relocated and made Calitri their home. We are thrilled to be staying in a rental right in this part of town.
Using Calitri as a base we hope to explore many of the surrounding towns visiting restaurants, bakeries, wineries and hopefully a farm or two where cheese is produced. More importantly my dream is locate possible relatives. When we visited in 2005 we stopped into a bakery where the owner and his daughter were behind the counter. They spoke a little English, queried us as to what we were doing in town and when I explained my family came from there they asked for my family name. When I told him that my grandmother was a Maffucci he exclaimed “Maffucci, I am Maffucci, we are all Maffucci here!” So we will see what we can turn up.
After the unification of Italy, Calitri shared a similar destiny to any other town in the south of Italy: banditry, baronial land command and peasant struggles for the division of land. One can only imagine how hard life was in the early twentieth century when many parents put their children on a ship to travel to a new life in America. My grandmother was a mere thirteen years old (I think) when she left for New York to live with an aunt. We found a monument (pictured above) while walking around town dedicated to the thousands who left Calitri. I’m fairly certain that my grandmother never envisioned that I would make the journey back to her birthplace.