Italy, The Last Post (I swear)My last full day in Italy we visited the neighboring village of Montefegatesi, where my paternal grandfather is from. It's another remote hill top village. As in Coreglia, the cemetery is full of our family names going back hundreds of years. This is a kind of a bizarre phenomenon. As an American we just don't have the same sense of history as Italians where the village church was built in the 12th century and homes are built into the surrounding medieval walls. My father spent his childhood between these two villages, shuttling back and forth, usually on foot, to find safety from the war raging around him and his family. He has many stories to tell of a life that is so foreign and unfathomable to me. By the age of six he knew difference between British and American spent shells, and like the other boys in town, collected them. He and his friends fashioned toys out of left over or discarded military supplies from the armies passing through. These are his earliest memories and yet he still loves this place, and has shared that love with his children.
Almost all of the land and houses in the family have been sold off over the years, most going to finance the family's new life in America. But looking out over the garden wall of La Penna across the breathtaking view of this valley in the Garfagnana section of Tuscany at a tract of land once owned by my great grandfather, I can't help but feel a gravitational pull. There is a sense of being part of something bigger than myself. Of being part of the 1000 year old soil under my feet where my ancestors toiled, ate, laughed and worked. There is a sense that this is where I belong. Almost like being returned to my natural habitat. I'm not going to pick up and move mind you, but there was talk of the family maybe buying back something in one of these villages, a tract of land or a little house in the old country. Imagine that.
Below are photos of my ancestral villages of Coreglia (above) and Montefatesi (below).