June 17, 2017


Calitri Italy


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.

into town

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.

through town

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.

last steps

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.

la casa

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.


out the bedroom

more country

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.

new 2

new section

More to come on our week in this magical place.

Panini Girl In Lucca May 2018get in touch for details paninigirl4@gmail.com






23 thoughts on “Calitri Italy

  1. Love Calitri. Just beautiful with friendly people.

      • This is Bob, My Grandparents Leonardo and Maria DeCarlo came from Calitri. I would love to visit but speak no Italian. A couple of mr families stories are in the book. Is it possible to find relatives if visiting the town? Again I speak no Italian.

  2. Oh my goodness, what a gorgeous view. And how wonderful to be in your great grandparents’ home town. Savor every moment. I look forward to reading more about your visit.

  3. Those are some pretty gorgeous views and I absolutely love the little narrow streets!

  4. Did you ever get to read Mario Toglia’s book : ‘They came by Boat’? A history of all our ancestors who came from Calitri.. Thanks for the pictures.

    • Kempfjomach-yes I have read his first book. I know he was working on another one-I sent him a photo of my grandparents for it. I’m not sure if the second book is released.

    • I read that book. I recognized a lot of the people. Just an FYI, The Lighthouse Bar in New Rochelle was owned by Joseph Cestone, Sr. and not Michael as reported. I know because they were both my uncles (grandma’s brothers). The author was given some mis information. PS I am the woman who moved to Calitri on HHI 2016 episode. My great grandparents went to America for a better life and now I have returned to Calitri for a better life…

      • The Lighthouse Bar ?
        trying to look it up – I’m in New Rochelle area – wanted to see if there were any family connections – my grandparents from Calitri and found their way to New Rochelle. I’m going to Calitri this summer but do not have any connections.
        would love to chat

      • Janet-when are you going to be in Calitri? Send me an email at paninigirl4@gmail.com.

  5. Beautiful photos, there are so many unique little towns to discover…I love Tuscany 🙂

  6. What a wonderful story you have told of our grandparents town and later meeting. Your pictures help set the scene. Thanks. C.

  7. wow so glad I found this post!! my great grandfather is from Calitri as well and I was thinking of going to visit when I go back to Italy this summer, but after seeing this pictures it’s a must!!

  8. Buon Natale e Buon Anno Nuovo de Calitri . Auguri!

  9. Me and my father spent four days there this spring ending our two week trip to Italy. My grandfather was from Calitri so it was a special trip for us. We met some of the friendliest people and remain in contact with them. We are planning another trip there with my wife and mom joining us! Fell in love with Calitri and the friends we made! PS the tre rose restaurant was very good as the Mayor of this lovely town prepared our dinners .

    • Kenneth-how wonderful that you got to spend time in Calitri. My husband and I just love it and feel so comfortable there. It’s such a charming town and the surrounding area is beautiful. Some time we’d like to stay for a month and do more exploring. Did you go to the commune and do any genealogy research? I actually found the house where my grandmother was born. Yes, the people are friendly and helpful.

  10. I just love reading all the family stories about Calitri. My grandfather, Vito Rinaldi, came from Calitri to NYC in 1920. My mother, aunt and brother went to visit his relatives, Giovanni, Francesca, and found everyone to be so welcoming. My aunt went once more before she passed away and was again welcomed with open arms. I am hoping to get there soon as well and meet my extended family.

    • Monica-you will love it. We’ve been three times and plan on going for a week in the fall if it’s even possible. If not we’ll go next spring. I spent time with the town’s genealogy expert and saw my grandparents birth certificates and was able to walk by their actual homes. It’s very reasonable to visit there-so much less than Tuscany, etc.

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