November 4, 2007
paninigirl

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Being There-Calitri

We had arrived! I can’t begin to explain the feeling I had knowing that I was in the very town that my grandparents had come from! After checking in at our hotel and getting some advice from the charming man at the front desk, we set off to see the centro storico. Calitri is a divided town-we were staying in the “new ” part of town and the “older” section was off in the distance, but not very far away. We decided to walk over and visit the town offices and explore the historic area. When we got to the town office, we were dismayed to discover that this was the one week of the year that they were closed. If the internet had more information on the town I might have been able to find this out before the trip, however as I said, even two years ago there was virtually no info available on Calitri. We were disappointed, but decided to just set off and explore the area. At the time I only knew my that both my grandparents had been born and lived here until emigrating to the US. I had their names, dates of birth and the names of their parents. I also knew that Calitri had suffered massive devastation during an earthquake in 1980 and this became very apparent as we began walking through the centro storico.the-village.jpg
Most of this area was deserted. There was no one but us walking through here. A lot of the homes were actually built into the hillside and we were able to walk inside. It was like being in a cave-with only the front door and maybe a window near the door for light and ventilation. Many of the homes had a very small toilet area as soon as you walked in the door-probably a later day addition to the house. Some of them were one story and others had stairs leading to a second floor. It was almost eery walking through here and we felt that it wasn’t proper to photograph the interiors.I kept thinking if one of these had been the home of my grandmother or grandfather. It was then that I came to really grasp why their parents had sent them away as teenagers to live in a foreign land. You could feel the poverty that they must have experienced living in these homes.door2.jpg As we walked back toward the beginning of the village it became apparent that there were some people living here and that some homes were under renovation. An older woman came out of her front door and stared us as we walked by. We said “buon giorno” and she continued to just look at us as the intruders that we were. I had wished that I had known the words to tell her about my connection to her village.

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