It was really a shame that we had only a day and a half to spend in Calitri. It was a charming small town and I had hoped to find out more information on my family. The desk clerk at the hotel directed us to the cemetary and we spent quite a bit of time reading the names on the tombs, as I knew a variety of my family names. Unfortunately I did not see the names of my great grandparents. We visited a wonderful panetteria with a father and daughter working behind the counter and as she was packing our biscotti, she asked why we were there. We explained and her dad knew a little English and asked “What is your family name?”. When I told him “Maffucci” he exclaimed “We are Maffucci-half the town is Maffucci!”.
While wandering aroung the village we came upon a monument that brought a tear to my eye. It was dedicated to all those that had left the village for foreign lands. I wondered how my grandparents made the trip to Naples to get the boat to America. What had it been like for them to say good-bye to their parents and siblings?When we left the town on the bus headed for Avellino (once again we had a school girl help us in finding the correct bus) and then on to Salerno, we knew that at some point we would be back for a longer visit. My non-Italian husband was immediately enamored with the area and inquired about rates for renting a furnished apartment for a month. We were charmed by the un-touristy aspect of the town. To be honest, on this quick trip we did not have the opportunity to interact with many people, but those we did meet were all very nice to us. We had never traveled this far south in Italy before and decided that there was a lot more exploring to do. We knew that next time we would come by car!
Since that visit I’ve done a lot more genealogical research on my family. I have information on my grandfather’s family here in Calitri going back to the early 1700’s. I’ve found a little on my grandmother’s and still need to keep digging. It was her family that was “Maffucci” so I hope at some point to connect with some relatives since there are so many left in the area. I’ve also discovered that soon after we left, a British company bought up a great portion of the centro storico that had suffered in the earthquake and along with the town and local tradesmen have renovated and sold many of the dwellings-right where we had been exploring. We hope to go back and maybe rent one of them as a base for exploring the area.
Visiting this part of the country was what really prompted me to start studying Italian. I’ve always loved languages and thought that at some point I might attempt to learn Italian, but I really saw the need to be able to communicate with the locals in their language, even if it is at a very rudimentary level at this point. In the large citites it’s easy to lapse back into English as so many people in shops, restaurants and hotels are very gracious and accommmodating to the English speaking tourists. I hope that when we are next in Calitri I’ll be able asking questions about the menu, the bus and the people we meet in their language! Until that next visit, I will think about this dooway with the chilies hanging-I like to think that maybe my grandmother lived behind this door when she was a girl.