December 24, 2008


The Calitri Connection

For such a small town, everything that I write about Calitri seems to generate a lot of interest. Calitri, for those of you who haven’t read all I’ve written (hey, what’s with that?), is a small hill town in the Avellino province of Campania. My grandparents were both from this town and came to the United States to make a better life. Growing up, I was under the impression that Calitri was really close to Naples. When I decided that I had to visit the ancestral town of my family I discovered that this town is actually closer to the Basilicata region, than it is to Naples.

I’m not sure how we came to the decision that we would make a detour from our trip from Rome to Positano and go and find Calitri, but once decided, we were determined to find our way there. We didn’t have a car and it took a train trip and overnight stay in Foggia (in Puglia), then a bus back into Campania and finally a van that serviced the area since the trains weren’t running there.

We had only one day to explore the town and at the time we spoke no Italian. Everyone that we encountered was friendly and helpful and I cried when we left, knowing that we had barely scratched the surface. J. decided right then and there that we had to return, rent a place for a month, explore the area and find my relatives. I decided that I would learn Italian before our return so that we could really communicate with the people that we met.

I’m fascinated when I hear from all of you that have relatives in Calitri and have been there yourselves. We have yet to return but I have learned to speak (somewhat) Italian and we still plan to go back. I would love to hear from any of you who have done research on Calitri, have been there, or have family who came from there. So leave me a comment and share your experience and who knows, maybe we’re even related!


7 thoughts on “The Calitri Connection

  1. Cucuina Jane,
    It has been a while since I have checked into your site. I really need it to bring back memories of grandma’s Sunday dinners. They are especially vivid to me since I was actually there with you! Sunday was family day. Us cousins would then play hide and seek while the women cleaned and the men took naps. This was a typical Sunday at the grandparents.
    Now that it is Christmas, I think of those wonderful candies she made with almonds and honey. She would cut them into little diamonds and sprinkle them with with tiny round spinkles. I especially loved her cookies that she kept in a tin in the refrigerator that made the powdered sugar magical. Amaretto merengues and cream cheese walnut crescents. Mine never ever come out the same.But then again nothing will ever match her cuisine.
    Buon Natale. Love to J.

  2. I’m sorry to tell you that I’ve never been there, but I am certainly looking forward to hearing about your 1 month visit. Do it! Your Italian doesn’t have to be perfect first.

    Tanti, tanti auguri per le feste!

  3. My grandfather was from somewhere near Bari, when we did our cruise in 2004 Bari was the first stop and I wished I would have known exactly where so I could have visited the town, I am sure the emotion was high for you knowing that Calitri was the home of your ancestors. It is important to experience your history. …..Merry Christmas Janie, I am beginning the preparations for Christmas Eve dinner…Have a blessed holiday.

  4. Hi there! No kidding. It’s amazing how many people from all over the world feel deep kinship and pride for such a tiny town like Calitri. There are magazines (, countless websites, newsletters, blogs, groups on Facebook (which has 1,000 members!) and Flickr, cookbooks, art, etc. that are catered to Calitri and its children and fans. I don’t think anyone would really understand unless you’ve been to Calitri. Like you, I cried when I had to leave… What a remarkable place…

    A while ago you mentioned the calitrani surnames that you’re related to. I believe I know where you fit in in my family tree, if your grandparents’ names are Lazzaro and Maria. I have done a lot of research and quite a lot of information on both of their ancestors if you’re interested.

    Happy new year!


  5. Thank you for your most beautiful site. I’ve been to Italy several times and can truly say that even though it’s my grandparents homeland, know so little about it. I just found out my grandfather was from Calitri. You’ve put a beautiful face with a long forgotten name. Thank you so much, you know the first place I will go when I get back? That’s right, Calatri and of course Calabria to try the Magliooco grape vino, in honor of my grandmother’s maiden name, which I plan to drink with my daughter Rachel, copious amounts. Your site it delightful and inspiring, Thank you so much! Joni Abate Spires

  6. Pingback: Calitri Italy | Panini Girl

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