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Italy 2004 Trip Report - San Pietro Avellana
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Dear Family,
     Here is our second letter/journal installment. As I mentioned in my last letter, Giuliano and Rosalba have totally spoiled us, taking care of just about everything for us. But Tuesday, we were on our own for lunch (in San Pietro), and the whole day.  I went to the post office by myself. The first challenge was to find it. Then communication with the postal worker was another.
     As I said, when in Italy, I did not want to hurt anyone’s feeling and wanted to try the local cuisine, so would give up being vegetarian for the three weeks here. But we made a disaster of choosing our lunch. First, everything closes between 1:00 and 3:00. So we went out walking about town and nothing was open. We ended up in a restaurant just outside of town. The waiter spoke no English and we were nervous about our first time on our own. He rattled off this & this, and we said OK. We ended up with an antipasto of ham, cheese and sausage, then 2 kinds of pasta and then veal and sausage. Way too much meat for me! (And a lunch that cost  38 Euros - about $50). That night, Giuliano had a treat for us - meat cooked over the fire. If anything will keep me a vegetarian, it is all this meat I’m not enjoying. The people here eat about four times as much as Mark and I. [Rosalba introduced us to a locally made cheese called caciocavallo. Very Good!]
     [On Wednesday, we all drove to a town named Pescocostanzo. I drove our rental car and Giuliano drove his 500. Two other friends of Giuliano joined us, Sabatino ("Kojak") diSanza and his wife, Colomba Musilli. Pescocostanzo is high up in the mountains (on the slopes of Mont Calvario), north of Castel di Sangro (which is just north of SPA). The town originally was a cattle and sheep raising center but changed over time to arts and crafts such as stone carving, wrought iron working and weaving (lace). We walked around town and had gelato (ice cream). Since we were there in the afternoon, everything, including the church was closed.]

Sabatino diSanza, Columba Musilli, Giuliano, Rosalba, and Mark in Pescocostanzo


     We invited Giuliano and Rosalba out to dinner on Wednesday night as a small “thank you”. They invited a few friends (“dutch” for everyone else) and there ended up being 18 at dinner. We especially went to have “pasta e fagioli”, which actually ended up being “gnocchi e fagioli.” It was the best I had ever tasted! [The dinner was at a restaurant owned by Nello, a cousin of Giuliano.]

     Giuliano was true to his word and through the Mayor, he procured some organ music from another city [Actually it was piano music which Sally adapted for the organ.]. I had an afternoon [Wednesday] and a morning [Thursday] to practice, and he set me up to do a concert for his friends, the Mayor and his wife, and the Priest. They have a nice small pipe organ that had been restored four years ago, but no one in town who could play. So I worked up five songs, the first 4 from the classics and the last one, a folk song, written by Giuliano’s father about San Pietro. About 25 attended. I was nervous, but it was fun too, to give a little something back.

Sally practicing for her concert with the help of Mauro and Giuliano.

     [Here are the pieces that Sally played:
    1. Celebre Largo - Handel
    2. Ave Maria - Schubert
    3. Danza Ugherese #5, J. Brahms
    4. Studio Opus 10 N. 3 - F. Chopin
    5. Valle sanpietrese - words by E. Colaianni, music by C. Silvestri]

The audience at Sally's concert. The woman in the middle is Giuliano's mother Licia diTella, daughter of Teridano diTella.

Group shot of the concert attendance. Includes the mayor and the parish priest.
Back Row: Pino D'Antonio,  Nicola (Nico) Ruta , Giovanni Lotta,  Anna Craboledda, my cousin Giuliano Colajanni
Middle Row: Roberto Craboledda , priest Don Felice, Maria Ruta, Flora Rusciano Lotta, Mauro Colajanni, Antonio DiLudovico
Center Row: Rita Carella D'Antonio (wife of Pino), Rosalba Colajanni, Sally DiVecchio
Front Row: Virginio Palumbo, Luigi (of senior center), three children of the town, Licia diTella, Anna Gatti
Stroller: grandchild of Virginio Palumbo

     [While Sally was practicing for her concert, Mark took his notebook computer and scanner to the town museum. The museum is very good for such a small town. It has many artifacts going back over 100 years. Includes many items from before the destruction of the town in 1943. Mark got a chance to scan many of the original photos in the museum. You can see the scans:
  Here are a set of postcards that we got on our 2004 trip to San Pietro.
  Here are photos of San Pietro during and after its destructions by retreating German forces in 1943.
  Here are some other photos that I scanned at the museo in San Pietro.
     [During the day on Thursday, we drove back to the Capella S. Amico to see if it was open. It was and I was able to take a lot of photos of the inside. I met two women who remembered my mother, first was Licia diTella, Giuliano’s mother and the second was Matilda diIullo.]

Inside the Chapel of Saint Amico in the Woods

     We leave tomorrow for Sant’Eufemia. Mark’s cousin, Maria and her husband, Domenico, are waiting for us there. (They said “don’t eat before you get here.”) (We are both going on diets when we get home.)
     Thursday night was a presentation of the local folk music in the Piazza. Mark’s cousin, Donatella, and her daughter were part of the choral group. [They sang many of the songs written by Giuliano’s father including Valle sanpietrese which Sally played during her organ recital. During the concert, we had the privilege of being called to go up on the stage and be introduced to the whole town. We had a song dedicated to us, the “Passport Song” which implores people who are thinking about leaving SPA, instead to stay. This song was written in the 1950's by Giuliano’s father.]

The folk singing group in San Pietro - the concert started at 10:00 P.M.

Sally and Mark with cousins - Dontatella on left and her daughter, Claudia, on the right.

     [This same evening we met a man from Chicago who spends several months a year in San Pietro. I didn't get his first name but the family name was diCianno. He was here with his son, Nick. We also met two young men visiting relatives who, like us, spoke only English.]

     Love to you all! (More later!)
     Sal & Mark

      [The next morning, we left San Pietro. Here are photos taken that morning in front of Giuliano and Rosalba's house]

Fabrizio, Rosalba and Giuliano Colajanni
(Youngest son, Adriano, was vacationing at the seashore, but
we had met him in Roma.)

Antonia Magnione and Mauro Colaianni

Flora Rusciano and Giovanni Lotta

Donatella Colaianni and Corrado diCroce

The whole crew

Sally and Mark getting ready to go to Sant'Eufemia

      [One person that I did not get a good photo of was Giuseppe "Pino" D'Antonio. He is a painter and he gave Sally a painting that he did of San Pietro. Pino works for a large company and speaks very good English. He was born in South America so he also speaks Spanish. His given name is "Jose". His family is not from San Pietro but is from a town in the same area as my father's hometown.]

On to Part 3.

Back to Part 1.

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Mark and Sally

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