Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Across southern Italy to the land of my ancestors

We took the ferry from Dubrovnik to Bari.  Upon arrival in Bari we picked up a Fiat Panda Diesel.  Interesting car - with 6 forward gears.  Brings back memories of my old Firebird which had 2 forward gears (Powerglide).  Of coarse the Firebird had 455 cubic inches of displacement, and I think the Panda had 6.
The drive across the underside of the arch of the Italian boot was reminiscent of a drive through California's San Joaquin valley - if California was peppered with castles every now and again.

Once we crossed the border into Reggio Cosenza, the drive radically changed - we now were on narrow, one lane, switchbacks through a very rural landscape.  Up and down steep hills, twisting between vineyards, Blood orange orchards, and fig trees.  Other than the occasional intense sudden fear when some Italian came barreling down at us at 120kph it was a fantastic drive.

This was approaching Acri from the opposite direction that I did the last time I came in 1994 with my father - and this time we went through a series of small villages whose names I recognized from reading the civil records of Acri - birthplaces of spouses of people marrying into the Alessio clan.  Places with names like "San Giorgio Albanese" and "Finnochio".

Michelangelo and Isabella in front of the Church that their Great Grandfather Angelo Salvatore Alessio was baptized in
Once we arrived in town I did not recognize it.  The cheerful country town that my father and I had visited 20 years ago was no more.  The Acri of today is full of cinder block buildings lacking all charm.  The cetral square with church and fountain has been paved over, and the fountain has been "Facelifted" to remove all charm.

Alas the march of time.  One thing that has not changed is the view of the town as you leave to the west - this photo is almost identical to the one I took with my dad back in 1994

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