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My Father Came From Italy

My Father Came From Italy

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My Father Came From Italy

valutazioni:
4/5 (2 valutazioni)
Lunghezza:
150 pagine
2 ore
Pubblicato:
May 5, 2011
ISBN:
9780986961007
Formato:
Libro

Descrizione

After 64 years, Mezzabotte Coletta, a retired truck driver for a Toronto macaroni factory, is retuning to his native Italia. In his native village of Supino, is a rundown villa bought sight unseen by Mezzabotte Coletta 's daughter Maria - an olive branch after years of family struggle. While she and her husband breathe in the chatter of local tradesmen, the fragrant offerings of well-wishing neighbors, and the aroma of fine wine, her father awaits in Canada, anticipating the day he will again touch Italian soil. Hoping to avoid the wounds of his difficult marriage and the onset of senility, father and daughter retrace footsteps that yield from the Saint of Special Favors a miraculous recovery.

Pubblicato:
May 5, 2011
ISBN:
9780986961007
Formato:
Libro

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My Father Came From Italy - Maria Coletta McLean

My Father Came From Italy

By Maria Coletta McLean

Published by Pacific Place Publishing

Smashwords Edition

Copyright 2011 Maria Coletta Mclean

Smashwords Edition, License Notes

This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to Smashwords.com and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: In the Shadow Of Santa Serena

Chapter 2: Maybe It Needs a Little Work

Chapter 3: The Saint of Special Favours

Chapter 4: Arrivederci Mezzabotte

In The Shadow Of Santa Serena

In my father’s village, the townspeople tell the story of how Supino got its name. Over 2,000 years ago, Christ walked the dusty road from Rome to Naples and, weary and in need of rest, He paused halfway along the route to look out over a pasture, freckled with clover and buttercups. The late afternoon sun sent the shadow of the Santa Serena across the valley and into the meadow. A wind, fresh and clean, whispered along the ground where He stood. He lay on His back in the soft grass and spread His arms wide to catch the breeze. From the trees came the song of Italian warblers and canaries and the heady scent of burgundy cherries. The aroma of clover perfumed the air and honeybees heavy with sweet pollen buzzed around His head. Christ slept. He woke refreshed, returned to the road and continued on His way.

In the early evening, the sky streaked with purple clouds, the shepherds came to the field to gather their sheep and saw the imprint of His body impressed upon the grasses: two lines intersecting in a giant cross. Day after day, His imprint remained a testament to the afternoon He lay, supine, the lines of His body extending to the four corners of the valley. The farmers from surrounding fields decided to build four churches: one at the base of the Santa Serena mountain where He had laid His head; another in the pasture at His feet; and one at the tips of the fingers of each of His hands, near clusters of cherry trees. Christ’s imprint lingered on long after the churches were erected. He held them in the palm of His hands. Between the churches they built a village with two intersecting streets. They named the village Supino, the Italian word for supine, for this was the spot Christ had reclined, His face to the heavens.

*****

I never intended to go to Supino. However, one day Bob, my husband, came home from a city council meeting and announced, The City of York’s twinned with a city in Italy called L’Aquila. The council’s going over in November. What do you think?

Well, it sounds interesting, I began. Who’s showing you around? Do you have an itinerary?

I meant what do you think about going with me?

I don’t know. Will every minute be budgeted, planned? Will we have to smile and shake hands with strangers all day?

I don’t know. Maybe...but it’s Italy. You’ve always wanted to go. Opportunity is knocking, Bob declared.

The itinerary arrived the following week, written in Italian and English. Two pages. Morning obligations began at 9:30 a.m. and the last event of the day got under way at 8:00 p.m. Bob assured me I didn’t have to attend everything, then proceeded to point out all the things I wouldn’t want to miss.

You can’t count the dinners, he said. You have to eat anyway.

Dinners were sponsored by different organizations — the Builder’s Association or the Abruzzo parliament. Mornings entailed a visit to a medieval Spanish castle or the new Gallucci Supermarket. In between were numerous activities that required endless handshaking and talking to strangers.

I don’t know..., I began.

I brought you a surprise, Bob said. From behind his back he presented a package with a green, red and white striped cover and the words Learn to Speak Italian in 20 Easy Lessons emblazoned across the top, containing two cassettes. I thought we’d keep one at home and one in the car. We’ll be talking like locals in no time, he promised.

The next day, I went to the seniors’ drop-in centre to visit my father and told him about the tapes. He nodded and when I asked him what he thought he said, "Someone should know my language." His eyes filled with tears. Guiltily, I began to tell him about the trip to L’Aquila.

You remember your cousin Guido? he asked me. He lives in Rome. He can tell you how to get to Supino.

I don’t think we’ll have time to visit your village.

It’s not far, he assured me. Guido can take you.

It’s not that. It’s just that we can’t really go off on our own. This trip is an official visit. The itinerary has been set by the Italian government.

Go on Sunday. Everyone’s home with their family on Sunday.

I laughed, but I checked the itinerary and of course Sunday was free. Does Guido speak English?

Sure.

Later that evening, Bob and I got out the map of Italy and tried to find Supino; even though there were dozens of towns south of Rome, Supino was not among them. Bob resorted to a more detailed map of the Lazio region; no Supino. Finally, we peered through a magnifying glass; Supino was not there.

How big is Supino, Dad?

Pretty big, he said. Maybe 100 families. You don’t need the map. Your cousin can show you. You remember Guido, don’t you?

He’s the cousin who lived in Toronto for a few years?

Right. You call him. He’ll meet you and take you right to the village.

I haven’t seen Guido for 30 years. How old was I when he went back to the old country? Eight? How’s he going to recognize me?

Wear your Canada pin. He’ll find you okay.

And where is Supino, exactly?

Take the road from Rome to Naples, my father said. About halfway there, turn right. That’s Supino.

*****

On the first Sunday in Italy, Rocco, our Toronto travel agent who also owned a summer home in Supino and was in Italy at the same time we were, made a long-distance call from L’Aquila to Rome, arranging to meet Guido at the main bus terminal there in front of the water fountain, at noon. We took the bus from the main piazza in L’Aquila, winding through several mountain tunnels, vineyards and olive groves. At an intersection just outside Rome, a donkey pulling a cart of wicker baskets brimming with olives reminded me that there was an olive grove on my father’s family farm. Perhaps they would be pressing the olives while we were there.

I hadn’t seen Guido since I was a young girl, but I remembered he looked exactly like my father: a short, white-haired Italian with callused hands and a creased face from too many hours under the garden sun. As I searched among the hundreds of faces in the terminal that day I realized that every Italian man of a certain age fit that description. I walked around the water fountain a few times, my Canada flag clutched in my hand, hoping my cousin would step out of the crowd and introduce himself. An hour and a half passed and still no Guido. We sat on the edge of the fountain like orphans deposited on a doorstep.

Finally, from out of the crowd, a man walked quickly toward us. A package of Player’s cigarettes and a clip-on pen stuck out of his shirt pocket.

Guido shook my hand, kissed my cheeks. Maria, he said. Welcome.

Welcome seemed to be the only English word Guido remembered. After that, he spouted a stream of Italian; I didn’t understand any of it. And Bob was no help at all.

Ask him where his car is, Bob said.

I didn’t have a wide vocabulary, but managed to determine that Guido was walking, not driving, so I had no idea how he was going to take us to Supino. Guido took my arm and lead us to the taxi stand. In a few minutes we were whipping through Rome’s traffic.

We’re taking a cab to Supino? asked Bob.

Apparently.

Apparently not, because within five minutes, we pulled up in front of an apartment building in downtown Roma and Guido motioned us to get out.

Does Guido understand that he’s supposed to take us to Supino? Bob asked.

I don’t know, Bob. He is two hours late. Obviously he doesn’t own a car. I don’t know what we’re doing here. Want to hear something funny? Do you know what the name Guido means in Italian?

Man who doesn’t speak English? suggested Bob.

Guide.

Although Guido wasn’t a great linguist, he was brimming with good will. He put an arm around each of our shoulders as he led us through a gate to a courtyard garden, red roses still blooming defiantly in the late November sunlight. In the centre was a willowy tangerine tree, its boughs extended languid and leafless, but heavy with fruit, vibrant orange skins radiant in the pale daylight.

Guido held open a brass, folding elevator door and we stepped inside. After a few bells and several lurches, we arrived on the fourth floor to the intoxicating aroma of tomatoes and herbs. A few steps down the hall an apartment door was open and voices rose up to greet us. Inside, the dining room table was extended from the front hall into the living room, encircled by chairs and benches and stools. Strangers shook our hands, kissed us, spoke to us in Italian. A woman came from the kitchen, kissed Bob, pointed to her wedding band, saying, Guido and then to herself, Luigina, waved a bag of spaghetti and put a tumbler of vermouth in my hand. Seconds later the phone rang and Guido was motioning to me, "Maria, telefono."

"Per me?"

You don’t know me, began the woman on the phone, who explained that a lunch had been prepared for us, after which Guido would take us to Supino in a small rented van. It came with a driver because Guido didn’t drive. The driver was supposed to pick us up at the apartment at two o’clock.

It’s twenty to three, Bob pointed out when I relayed the information.

I know.

It was four o’clock and the sky was grey by the time lunch was finished. If we didn’t get to Supino soon, it would be dark and we wouldn’t be able to see anything. The doorbell rang several times, but it was only another lunch guest arriving. Guido was smoking by the courtyard gate when the van arrived a half an hour later. We kissed Luigina on the way out, "Grazie, grazie," and flew down the stairs to the sidewalk.

How far to Supino? I asked, pointing to my watch.

"Un’ora," said Guido, holding up one finger, and within minutes we were on the autostrada speeding south. In 50 minutes, we turned right at the Frosinone exit. The driver slowed down at the tollbooth where he passed some lire notes to the tollbooth operator, shook his head in disgust, muttered "ladro" under his breath and drove off.

Bob looked at me. Thief, I explained.

Bloody thief, clarified Guido.

As the sun slid toward Santa Serena we sped past a dozen farms, olive and fruit trees dotting the landscape and low stone houses at the end of driveways lined with grapevines. Suddenly the driver stopped, beside a driveway near a flock of sheep grazing freely beneath sprawling cherry trees. A long path of dusty grapevines, heavy with burgundy fruit, led to a stone farmhouse. Smoke spiralled from the chimney. Warm yellow light glowed from the windows. The front door was

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