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  • Am I really Italian?
    Page 1 of 2

    by Flora Mitidiero Raehl

    July 12, our second day in Italy. I had been planning this trip for my father, my son Tom and I for almost two months and after a couple of setbacks involving my father's health, (setbacks and my father seem to go hand in hand) we finally arrived safely in Calabria yesterday. That's almost a solid 24 hours of travel to get to beautiful Southern Italy: 3:30 flight out of O'Hare, we arrived in Rome about 7:45 AM (including the 7 hour time difference), two hour layover in Rome, a connecting 45 minute flight to Bari, and then a 3 hour drive to Trebisacce. So it's hard to believe we're finally here but I'm ready to move ahead with my exploring.

    After we arrived yesterday we were met by a delicious meal prepared by cousin Pasquale, pasta al forno, a layered dish of pasta sheets, bolognese sauce, cured meats and chopped eggs baked in the oven. It may not sound great, but trust me it was delicious! Roasted meat of some sort (I didn't ask what kind - I know better by now) and fresh tomato salad, homegrown tomatoes I might add. A short evening of chatting with cousin Pasquale and his wife Rosa and straight to bed for some much needed rest.

    Today, our third day here, dad and I started the day off with a short walk to the coffee bar down the street for a cappuccino. As much as I love this frothy, smooth drink, oh to be able to have a cup of Cafe Americana, but no such luck yet. Maybe the next coffee bar, because we will try them all. Tom spent the morning at the beach with his cousin Vincenzo and some of his friends. Tom is teaching them the finer points of the English language - at least the English that most 23 year olds boys care to know (sports, drinking and swearing). Much of the rest of our time will be focused on food, I'm sure. You see, I grew up in Chicago VERY Italian, so Italian in fact that I spoke Italian before I even spoke English. My father, his parents and my mother's parents came to this country all from the same remote mountain village - Alessandria del Carretto - but didn't leave much of Italy behind them - they brought all their traditions with them and I am anxious to see if the way I grew up really did start with traditions from their hometown.

    Trebisacce is the next closest "city" where many of the younger Alessandrini have migrated to escape the mountain life in search of a more modern atmosphere, and the beach! I'm not exactly sure how long we'll be staying here in Trebisacce because the ultimate goal of this trip is to get to my father's home town - Alessandria del Carretto. Once we get to Alessandria we will be staying in the house my father grew up in, and even after all these years there is no hot water, and certainly no air conditioning. It's probably going to be a little tough at first for my son Tom and I - typical Americans - but it'll be okay because the views, the people, the food and the history will more than make up for these "inconveniences" and I am so looking forward to experiencing all they did before me.

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    Article Published 3/8/11

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