Twelve years ago we made the trek to Calitri traveling by train and bus to reach this town. A day and a half was not nearly long enough to really explore and we vowed to return and so we did. We flew to Bari, picked up a car and set off. As we left Puglia and traveled into Campania the landscape changed from fields with vines and olive trees to rolling green hills dotted with windmills. After exiting the autostrada the roads narrowed and farm houses popped up here and there. Occasionally a car would drive by, but for the most part we were the only ones on the road. Eventually we started seeing signs for Calitri and I can’t begin to describe my excitement.
It began 110 ten years ago when my great grandparents put their son Lazzaro on a ship leaving Naples heading to New York. You have to wonder how hard their life must have been to send their children thousands of miles away in hope of a better life. Four years later my grandmother’s parents did the same thing. These two young people both came from the small hilltop town of Calitri, but did not meet until some years after their arrival in the New York. I don’t have all the details, but I can only imagine it went something like ” there’s a girl from your town that you should meet” and then they were married.
The drive into town was easy and we spotted sites that were familiar from our last visit. Finding the meeting point for our rental agent was a little more difficult than we expected, but finally we pulled into the piazza and there she was. I immediately recognized Emma as she had been on an episode of House Hunters International. We unpacked the car and started hauling our bags through the narrow lanes of the borgo. It wasn’t really that far, but by the time we rounded the corner and saw those last uneven steps to the apartment I was ready to hand my suitcase over to J.
Turns out our neighbors were the couple that we saw on the House Hunters episode and we enjoyed spending time with them and getting the lowdown on living in Calitri. They had relocated from Colorado and were warmly welcomed by the locals. Our apartment, owned by another American couple, was roomy and had a fully equipped kitchen.
The best part however was the surprise we had when we opened the shutters on the bedroom window and saw the view-green hills as far as the eye could see with Monte Vulture (an extinct volcano) off in the distance. What we were gazing at was the border of Campania and Basilicata. I have to tell you that in our week there I never tired of staring out the window and seeing this landscape.
The town is actually divided into two areas. After a devastating earthquake in this region in 1980 many of Calitri’s residents moved from the old borgo into new housing that was built. It seems that many thought it would be easier to relocate rather than repair their damaged homes. When we visited twelve years ago there were not many people living in the older section of town, but a lot has changed since then. There’s been quite a bit of redevelopment, both by locals and foreigners who have discovered the charm of spending time in this quiet town.
More to come on our week in this magical place.
Panini Girl In Lucca May 2018–get in touch for details firstname.lastname@example.org