Panini Girl

My obsessions-Italy and Cooking

February 27, 2017


Calitri Bound




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.

18 thoughts on “Calitri Bound

  1. Janie – Your grandparents would be so proud of how you’ve embraced your heritage and shared your love of Italy with so many of us. I’m sure your journey will be a dream come true!

    • Bonnie-it gives me pleasure to share my love of this wonderful country with my friends! Thank you for being so supportive of what I do. Maybe some day you can travel south with me!

  2. Che bellezza! Try to find a glass of Tuccanese while you are there. It’s a grape native to my paese Orsara di Puglia where 2 of my friends produce it commercially. Tuccanese is also found in private family vineyards in Calitri! Buon viaggio, Cristina

    • Debra-I can’t wait to spend time there and maybe meet some relatives. Going there once inspired me to start studying Italian-almost no no one spoke English and I’m not sure how much better it will be for me now since I know they have their own dialect.

  3. friend…i got goose bumps reading about your ancestry…have a great time and we will see you in Lucca!!!

    • Sonia-it’s exciting for me and I can’t wait to see what happens. At the very least we will really enjoy exploring and eating our way through the area. When we were there 12 years ago it was very emotional to see the type of homes my grandparents probably lived in-very primitive and almost like cave dwellings.

  4. Janie, You said it correct! I don’t think grandma would ever think you would be going back to embrace Calitri. I am so jealous. Please continue to post for all of us left back home in ‘merica
    See if you can find some Capossela’s too!

    • Christina-I’ll be paving the way for a cousins return trip! I am definitely going to look for the Caposselas. I think we are related to a famous singer-Vinicio Capossela-his parents were born in Calitri and he returns there every August and sponsors a big festival and performs. Last time I checked there were only a few Caposselas left in town but I will find them!

  5. What an amazing journey you take us all on Janie! Thank you keep it all coming for us wanabee you people!!!!

  6. Love this post and thanks for sharing Janie!

  7. Glad you enjoyed staying in our Calitri home and the view.

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