Category Archives: Opinion + Commentary

Opinions and commentary about particular subject matter or posts.

Remember the “online focularu”?

I recently received an email from someone in the U.S.A. whose ancestry traces back to Gagliato. A peek at the guestbook will reveal who I am referring to.

During our correspondence, I naturally offered to discuss her father’s family tree with my parents, in the hope that possibly they may recall something about some of her ancestors.

And the other night I also had the opportunity to ask my brother if he recalls any details that would contribute something to the discussion.

The sad and frustrating reality is that my parents and my brother all had little or nothing to contribute because, like all of us, their memories are limited and their knowledge of such details would exist only if it was transferred to them by someone else (through either hearsay or the recounting of actual experiences by an older generation). As time goes on, the memories get fainter and the knowledge gets farther and farther removed.

So, as a result of this exercise, I realized that the words that I had written in the “About this site” section are so very “on the mark”! What am I referring to? Read on…

Imagine for a moment that someone with roots to Gagliato was interested in tracing back their lineage (just like the situation at hand) – and could visit this site and type is a name and the ancestry records would miraculously pop-up, along with any incidental historical details! Would that not be amazing? And, for free!

The only reason such a site does not exist today is because of the lack of cooperation among those who truly would be capable of creating such a site. At various points in time during the existence of this site I have extended an invitation to many individuals and groups to “come together” – only to be either outrightly rejected or silently shunned. Hey, I tried…

So, I can visualize the many who could benefit from such a site and I see them all floating farther and farther away from their origins until the link is lost altogether.

It is truly sad and shameful, and the future generations’ loss.

Of course, this is just my opinion.

Archives unearthed!

Hello friends!

Today was cleaning day for me and guess what I found? Old photos, newspapers and editions of “u focularu” from the early 70’s! Yes, material from almost 40 years ago.

So, I thought that it would be great and that I should share some of my finds with everyone. If you’re interested, stay tuned. I will organize the material and likely do a little scanning and Photoshop work to present old pictures and articles from the defunct Gagliato Social Club (of Toronto). Given that I was the last President of that club, I believe I have the freedom and authority to publish some of that material. And even if I don’t, I’m going to do it anyway!

I am certain that you will find some of the material interesting.

It will take me a couple of weeks to get things posted. As in the past, I will likely upload one post per week.

Hope you’re all doing well.


Well… did you enjoy the exhibit images?

After 24 straight days of posting images, it feels like I’m coming up for air from a long swim… I now have to get creative and come up with something else to keep the momentum flowing.

As can be seen from the “Hits” stats, we’ve officially surpassed the 7,000 mark! That is an awesome feat and I thank everyone who has been a loyal follower/visitor to this site.

Time is again becoming very precious for me and, at the moment, it appears that I may have an opportunity to only post weekly, rather than daily. I apologize in advance, but I am embarking on a new project (which I cannot discuss at the moment) which will require huge amounts of research and preparation.

At this time, I would like to whole-heartedly invite interested individuals to submit articles that can be posted on this site, to supplement the posts that I will create.

I will try my best to have the next post up by this coming Monday. Until then, thanks again and I wish you all a very happy American Thanksgiving and a buona fine settimana (end of week) – have a great weekend!

Thank you!

I am happy to report that the site just reached 6,150 “hits” since the date it was revamped (back in November 2010). So, a B-I-G T-H-A-N-K Y-O-U! Of course, this number does NOT include the 28,000+ spam visits/messages that the system automatically deleted.

Keep on visiting! And, maybe we can start getting more feedback/comments?


Another successful NanoGagliato…

I heard through the grapevine that the 2011 edition of NanoGagliato was a resounding success! Kudos to the organizers and to the people of Gagliato for their immense contributions and hard work… no wonder it was a success.

For my part, I carefully prepared 24 images that were exhibited in the cantina of Palazzo Romiti. I must admit, it was painful for me to work so hard at something and then not see it in its final form. Of course, I’m not blaming anyone for me missing it. The event simply conflicted with many other personal commitments and I could not make the long and time intensive voyage.

I would like to thank the organizers for allowing Stephanie’s and my work to be a part of this year’s event. And I would be remiss if I do not mention and thank Jo Ann Fleischhauer for her initiative, guidance and direction… and for taking so much care transporting our images to Gagliato and setting up the exhibit.

If you got a chance to see the exhibit or attended NanoGagliato, please write to to share your experiences.

I will have more to share soon.

Ciao for now,


Malocchio (The Evil Eye)

Well, I’m temporarily back!

I am very busy preparing a photo exhibit and uninterrupted time is essential (details will follow at some point); but, I’ve had this “thing” floating in my head, so I must share.

A while back, Francesco Pitaro published a book about the history, folklore, tradition and culture of Gagliato. It’s written in Italian; and, because of that, I have to be honest – I’ve only skimmed the book and I have not yet completed the full reading. Unfortunately, I packed away the book over a year ago (when I moved my studio) and I have yet to unpack it. However, I recall one section – where he writes about the malocchio, or, for those of you who do not read/understand Italian – the evil eye. When I find the book, I will actually translate the section and post it here.

In the meantime, I think this particular aspect of Gagliato culture and tradition is extremely interesting. So, I’d like to share what’s in my head about the subject.

Except for two women whom I know still practice the ritual of exorcising the malocchio (and who shall remain nameless), I remember of several individuals (may they rest in peace) who very effectively helped me in my hour of need. Yes, I admit it, I have been afflicted with the evil eye!

My paternal grandmother was one. She was a very tiny woman – born in 1903 and fully illiterate until the day she died. When she joined the family here in Canada, I was about 10 years old. She was very protective of me and would accompany me everywhere, including helping me with my paper route and walking me to school; and she was very content to accompany me to church so that I could serve Mass – every day at 7:00am sharp at St. John Bosco church (Dufferin St. & Rogers Rd. in Toronto). I remember that she always sat at the first pew on the east side of the church. In those days, Mass was celebrated predominantly in Latin. Well, my grandmother would stand through the entire process and would recite every word of the Mass, be it in Italian or Latin, concurrently with Father Pileggi! It irritated him to no end, but he was always amazed at how she could do that, given her lack of literacy. Well, given her deep religious beliefs, the other thing she did well was to exorcise/remove the malocchio. I recall that she was proficient in the two main methods still used today – straight prayer and prayer combined with the use of oil and water.

The straight prayer method involves citing a combination of prayers and phrases in quiet solitude with a mental focus on the afflicted individual. If the individual is present, the sign of the cross would be thumbed onto the person’s forehead and on each shoulder (representing the Holy Trinity). If the person is truly afflicted by the malocchio, the exorcist would yawn and shed tears while transference would take place. At a certain point, the person afflicted is asked to freely make the sign of the cross three times with his/her left hand and each time utter the words (translation) “evil eye be removed!”

The other method involves the same set of prayers but at several specific points in the process, the exorcist would dab a finger in oil and allow the oil to drip from the finger onto a dish or bowl full of water. Well, scientifically, what should happen to that drop of oil if released onto water? Try it and see – generally, that drop should expand slightly but remain distinctly and circularly contained and float around, amoeba-like. However, in the exorcism ritual, two possibilities exist – either the drops would remain distinct and float (representing NO evil eye present) OR it would visually dissipate and rush to the perimeter of the dish (signifying that the person is afflicted). If afflicted, and to complete the process of the removal of the “spell”, the oil and water would be discarded. I recall that Francesco Pitaro wrote that in days of old, the oil and water would be discarded onto a public space (such as a road) so that the spell would be transferred in reduced strength to the first person to walk onto or through the discarded water and oil! Not very nice, but effective, I guess.

Depending on the severity of the affliction, the process would have to be repeated and or other exorcists solicited to reinforce and accelerate the healing (by repeating the steps).

Some say that the evil eye spelled by a woman is stronger and worse than that of a man. But, I have been assured by exorcists that the gender of the person imposing the spell cannot be determined by the process. Also, the evil eye does not have to be necessarily malicious – it could be rooted in simple envy.

I also have been told that the “license” (for lack of a better word) to perform the exorcism ritual may be passed on to new recruits; but, such can only occur on Holy days, and specifically on Holy Thursday (the day commemorating the Last Supper).

So, the above is what I know or have been told. I am certain that there may be variations on the theme, but the existence of the ritual is definitely real. And, it’s not just a Gagliato-thing. I have had occasion to discuss such with individuals from other towns throughout the “boot” and they have confirmed its practice.

And, by the way, the telling signs of an affliction – generally headache, nausea, and lethargy.

Any thoughts or contributions?

“A Scialata” (Pasquetta)

After we arrived from Italy (1964), I recall that for many years my Gareri (Vince and Frank and sometimes Domenic) cousins and I would get together on Easter Mondays to celebrate – a scialata – as I remember the term (in literal translation – “the pleasing“). Today, I only hear the more popular term – Pasquettaliterally, “little Easter“. Our venue was always Fairbanks Park on Dufferin Street (Toronto), just south of Eglinton Avenue. Our mothers armed us with i cuzzupi (Easter sweetbread with hard-boiled eggs, still in the shell, embedded), amongst other traditional goodies. We played games and then ate, and then played again – the entire day. In very simple terms, it was a picnic amongst childhood friends. Simple times carried over from our time growing up in Gagliato.

Just thought of sharing that with you.

Buona Pasquetta to all.

150 Years of Unity – 150 Anni di Unità

Ho ricevuto una mail da Domenico Aspro (Gagliato) nella quale ha comunicato che l’associazione De Luca, l’associazione Ergon, la Pro-Loco, il Consiglio Pastorale della parrocchia San Nicola Vescovo e l’Amministrazione Comunale stanno organizzando per giorno 17 luglio 2011 la “Giornata dei 150 anni” (il titolo definitivo lo comunicherà con l’intero programma) dedicata agli emigranti. E scrive che questa iniziativa e’ molto voluta al fine di cominciare a trovare momenti di collaborazione fra tutti i soggetti operanti a Gagliato. Hanno scelto il tema dell’Unità d’Italia quale auspicio di unità e condivisione fra tutti i gagliatesi presenti ed assenti.

Ho speranza e fiducia ch’è arrivato il momento adatto per mettere via ogni divisione che per tanti anni è esistita all’interno della nostra comunità.


2011 is the 150th Anniversary of the unification of Italy, and so it’s a year of celebration! Despite the fact that the “official date” was on March 17th, the majority of the celebratory events will take place between March and November.

And, because of the hard work of many individuals, our own Gagliato will be hosting an official “Giornata dei 150 anni“, tentatively set for July 17, 2011. The date and the specific program and “title” of the celebration will be announced in the near future. The tentative working date was established to facilitate the involvement of the various organizing committees – from the Cultural Association Gianni De Luca, the Cultural Association Ergon, the Pro-Loco Committee, the Pastoral Counsel of the San Nicola Vescovo Church and the Administration of the Comune. And yes, for the very first timethis will be a joint effort. According to Domenico Aspro, the theme of the Unification of Italy was chosen as a harbinger of unity and sharing among all Gagliato present and absent. The day will be dedicated to all emigrants.


The official unification day was March 17, 1861. After the independent states came together, the union became known as the Kingdom of Italy. Yes – “King-dom” – because a King was declaredVittorio Emanuele II. And the seat of the first parliament was in Torino, not Rome. The “Kingdom of Italy” remained thus until 1946, when Italy became a Republic.

During these first 150 years, Italy had 4 kings during the initial 85 years, all from the House of Savoy:

  • Vittorio Emanuele II (1861-78) was the former King of Sardegna and became the first King of Italy;
  • Umberto I (1878-1900) was the King who approved the Triple Alliance with Germany and Austria-Hungary and was assassinated in 1900;
  • Vittorio Emanuele III (1900-46) was King during the First and Second World Wars, including the period under the Fascist regime of Benito Mussolini;
  • Umberto II (1946) was the last King of Italy and went into exile after a referendum which transformed Italy into a parliamentary republic.

And, since becoming La Repubblica Italiana (1946), there have been 11 different Presidents, 54 different Prime Ministers, and 16 Legislatures (elections).


So, this is your “heads-up” on this very unique event. If there ever was or will be a “perfect” time to visit our home town, this will be it!

Pietre di pane – Un’antropologia del restare

[This post has been UPDATED to include an English version immediately following the Italian original.]

Sono molto contento di avere ricevuto da Gagliato un post dal nostro caro amico Domenico Aspro – ecco le sue parole:

Caro Nicola,

Come ti avevo promesso ecco una breve sintesi della manifestazione organizzata dall’associazione “Gianni De Luca” per la presentazione del libro Pietre di pane -Un’antropologia del restare scritto dal prof. Vito Teti ordinario della cattedra di Etnologia dell’Università della Calabria.

E’ un libro che consiglierei a tutti voi che vivete in Canada perché è ambientato tra Toronto e San Nicola da Crissa (la comunità di San Nicola e molto numerosa nella zona dell’Ontario). Parla della difficoltà di vivere nei nostri piccoli paesi oramai abbandonati ed allo stesso tempo fa vedere, come la prima generazione emigrata in Canada abbia cercato in tutti i modi di ricostruire, in terra straniera, il proprio paese, con tradizioni e manifestazioni, in cui certamente anche la comunità gagliatese si potrà riconoscere. La lettura del libro mi ha emozionato poiché sembra essere scritto a Gagliato, cambiano i personaggi ma la struggente malinconia è la stessa.

La presentazione si è svolta il 10 di aprile all’interno della Pizzeria Ristorante “Galatos” e dopo una mia breve introduzione c’è stato un intervento del prof. Vito Pirruccio, gagliatese, che ha commosso tutti i partecipanti in quanto, con l’input del libro, ha richiamato una parte della storia del nostro paese, con le sue consuetudini, i suoi tipici personaggi (sampavularu, coddararu, ecc) e la malinconia di un tempo che non c’è più.

Il libro è stato stampato alla fine di febbraio del 2011 è la data di Gagliato è la prima uscita ufficiale e di questo, io e la mia associazione ne andiamo orgogliosi. Il libro, inoltre, verrà presentato alla “Salone del libro di Torino” la fiera per eccellenza dei più importanti scrittori internazionali. Il prof. Teti uno dei più importanti antropologi del meridione, originario di San Nicola da Crissa, è molte volte venuto a Toronto (molto conosciuto nella sua comunità) dove ha prodotto un documentario per la RAI.

La partecipazione della gente è stata numerosa e questo ci fa ben sperare per il prosieguo delle nostre attività culturali.

A conclusione di quanto riportato, il mio augurio è che la comunità gagliatese in Canada faccia sentire, di più, la sua voce sul tuo sito e attraverso il tuo importante lavoro si possa costruire l’intera comunità dei gagliatesi, anche se solo in un luogo virtuale. Come più volte ripetuto noi abbiamo bisogno di costruire legami più solidi con voi che vivete nel Canada così come voi avete bisogno di comunicare con noi che siamo rimasti, per tenere viva una comunità, non solo nei ricordi.

Un abbraccio a te e a tutti i nostri compaesani con la speranza che tra un po’ di anni si possa parlare della Gagliato del futuro e non solo di quella che è stata.

P.S. Sono contento nel leggere, sul sito, articoli di Francesco Pitaro fine studioso ed orgoglio gagliatese nonché persona a cui sono molto legato.

A te caro Domenico – grazie infinite per il tuo post ma più importante per le care e sincere parole sicuramente sorgenti dal tuo grande cuore. La nostra speranza rimane eterna, ma il nostro tempo è purtroppo limitato. Mantengo fiducia che possiamo raggiungere massimi risultati con un piccolino sforzo da molti…

Al prof. Teti – grazie per il Suo lavoro e tanti auguri e successo per la Sua pubblicazione molto rilevante alla nostra comunità e La prego di fornire dettagli di acquisto libro.


I am very happy to have received from Gagliato a post, from our good friend Domenico Aspro, about a cultural event that recently took place in the town. The following is a TRANSLATION OF DOMENICO’s letter (responsibility for translation errors and inaccuracies rests solely with me):

Dear Nicola,

As I had promised, here is a brief synthesis of the event that was organized by the Gianni De Luca Association of Gagliato for the release of the book entitled “Pietre di pane – Un’antropologia del restare” [literal translation – “Stones of bread – An anthropology of staying put”], written by Prof. Vito Teti, resident Chair of Ethnology at the University of Calabria.

It is a book that I would recommend to all [of Calabrese origin] who live in Canada because it is set between Toronto and San Nicola da Crissa (the San Nicola community has a large presence in the Ontario region). It deals with the difficulty of living in our now abandoned small towns and at the same time of how the first generation who emigrated to Canada has attempted in all aspects to reconstruct, in a strange  land, a new community, with traditions and [cultural] representations that the Gagliatese community may also see itself a part of.  The reading of the book was very emotional for me, because it was as though it was written about Gagliato – the characters differ but the melting melancholy is the same.

The presentation took place on the 10th of April at Pizzeria/Ristorante “Galatos” and following my brief introduction was a discussion by Prof. Vito Pirruccio, a Gagliatese, whose echoing words, accompanying excerpts from the book, recalled a time of our own town, with its own customs, with its own characters (such as sampavularu, coddararu, ecc) and the sadness of a time that no longer is.

The book was printed at the end of February 2011 and the Gagliato date was the first offical release for which my Association and I are very proud to have been a part of. The book will also be presented at the “Fiera del libro di Torino” [the Torino Book Fair], which is recognized for its excellence and participation by the most important of international writers. Prof. Teti is one of the most important anthropologists from Southern Italy, who originates from San Nicola da Crissa, and who has visited Toronto on many occasions (he is well known in the San Nicola da Crissa community there) where he also produced a documentary for RAI (television).

The evening’s turnout was significant and that bodes well for our other upcoming cultural activities.

In conclusion and in the spirit of the significance of the book, it is my hope and wish that the Gagliatese community in Canada make itself more visible and heard via this site; and through hard work, construct an entire community of Gagliatesi, even if only in a virtual sense (via Internet). As stressed many times, there is a need to create more solid ties between Gagliatesi living in Canada and those who have “stayed put” – to keep our Gagliato community alive, in reality and not just in memory.

I embrace you and our Gagliato friends with the hope that in a few years we may together discuss the Gagliato of the future, not just the one from the past.

P.S. I am happy to read, on this site, articles by the learned Francesco Pitaro, pride of Gagliato, and a persona who I am very much connected to.

To you, dear Domenico, infinite thanks for your post; but, more importantly for the kind and sincere words which surely spring forth from your big heart. Our hope is eternal, but our time is unfortunately limited; I continue to trust and believe that we can achieve great results with just a little effort from many people…

To Prof. Teti, a sincere thank you for your great work and best wishes and success on the release of your publication which is very relevant to and for our community. Kindly forward details where we can purchase your book.

‘U Monacu – The Carthusian Grange (la grangia certosina)

Recently, someone inquired if I had any information about ‘u Monacu. As this involves the history of Gagliato, I decided to share my response with everyone.

‘U Monacu is the location just outside Gagliato where once stood an old monastery.

I was born in Gagliato but left at a young age. So, I did what anyone in my fortunate position would do – ask my parents and my brother – all born there and resident there for many years. They spoke of their recollections and the claims by many that spirits were (and apparently still are) a formidable aspect of the ruins.

On the cover of Domenico Vitale’s monogram, ‘i Zzippuli (see Arts and Culture section) published almost a half-century ago, is a bright rendition of what the ruins looked like at that time. Here is the image:

Well, if one tries to find those ruins today, I am told that very little remains. When my daughter and I photographed the town in 2007, the “famous” ruins were not in the visible horizon (maybe we didn’t look hard enough).

However, Francesco Pitaro (see Arts and Culture section), wrote an article that referenced the ruins and provided a very brief historical summary.

Last Sunday’s post entitled The Borgias and Gagliato, was conceived primarily because of  a connection that Francesco Pitaro described in his article. Today, this post has its roots in that same article.

In an effort to address the inquiry, I translated the piece and I have included both the original in Italian and my translation (any translation inaccuracies are solely my responsibility).

(Source: Francesco Pitaro in Gazzetta del Sud, 28 luglio 1996)

La grangia certosina

Dell’antica grangia certosina di Gagliato resta ben poco. Quell’antico insediamento monastico ha sempre rivestito per la comunità gagliatese, ma anche per quelle dei paesi limitrofi, una grande importanza. Con un piccolo sforzo di fantasia è possibile immaginare come tra quei monaci  e la gente del luogo fosse in atto un reciproco rapporto di laboriosità e di preghiera.  Tempi remoti, di cui oggi non giunge altro che un’eco lontana, quanto suggestiva e toccante. Ancor vivo è invece il disappunto per l’insipienza di quanti permisero che i ruderi del vecchio convento passassero in mani private, e quindi manomessi e irrimediabilmente deturpati.

La data di fondazione è alquanto problematica. Esiste tuttavia un documento che fa supporre che essa  dovette essere costruita a partire dal XII-XIII secolo. Si Tratta di un atto di donazione, datato 14 novembre 1191, per mezzo del quale si assegnava al monastero di Santo Stefano del Bosco un podere nel territorio di Gagliato (prœdium positum in agro Galliati). La grangia dovette essere molto fiorente dal punto di vista economico.  Essa infatti amministrava un vasto feudo che ricadeva nei comuni, oltre a quello di Gagliato, di Satriano, San Sostene, Davoli e Argusto.

Tra le sue mura, fra l’altro, si spense padre Saverio Cannizzari, priore della certosa di Serra San Bruno dal 1766 al 1774, nonché profondo studioso di matematica e astronomia.  Ciò avvenne il 10 gennaio 1784, quasi esattamente un anno dopo il catastrofico sisma che devastò l’intera Calabria. Cominciò da quell’infausto evento la decadenza del cenobio: la Cassa sacra e i francesi, in fasi diverse, dapprima lo sospendevano e poi lo sopprimevano assorbendone tutti i possedimenti.

Uno studio più approfondito su questo personaggio e sulla sua permanenza in questo eremo mi riservo di riprenderlo quando il tempo a dispostone me lo consentirà. In ciò avvalendomi di un paziente ed encomiabile lavoro di ricerca minuziosa che fece per me, molti anni or sono, il bibliotecario della certosa di Serra San Bruno, padre Serafino Caminada. I documenti da lui rinvenuti negli archivi, e vergati di suo pugno con minuta calligrafia, mi sono preziosi e mi hanno permesso di scoprire questo aspetto riconducibile alla grangia gagliatese.

The Carthusian Grange (translation)

Very little remains of the ancient Carthusian grange at the outskirts of Gagliato. That ancient monastic settlement was of benefit and of great importance to the people of Gagliato and those in neighbouring towns. With a little effort and imagination we can conceive that the monks and the locals had in place a solid relationship of hard work and prayer. A time so remote, which today is but a distant echo, yet evocative and touching. The memory still lives, but with disappointment at the foolishness of those who allowed the ruins of the old convent to pass into private hands, now compromised and irreparably scarred.

The exact founding date is somewhat problematic to determine. However, there is a document that suggests that it had to be built sometime in the twelfth or thirteenth century. The document is a “deed of gift” dated November 14, 1191, by which was assigned to the monastery of Santo Stefano del Bosco a farm in the territory of Gagliato (prœdium positum in agro Galliati). The grange must have been economically strong, as it also administered a large estate that bordered the towns of Gagliato, Satriano, San Sostene, Davoli and Argusto.

Within its walls, among other things, died Father Xavier Cannizzaro, Prior of the Charterhouse of Serra San Bruno from 1766 to 1774, who was a profound scholar of mathematics and astronomy. He died on January 10, 1784, almost exactly a year after the catastrophic earthquake that devastated the entire Calabria. From that inauspicious event began the decline of the monastery: the Sacred Treasury and the French, in different phases, first suspended and then rescinded the activity by absorbing all the possessions.

A more detailed study of this character (Father Xavier Cannizzaro), and his stay at this retreat (the grange), I intend to resume when time permits. For such, I have volumes of minute details patiently, meticulously and commendably researched for me, many years ago, by the librarian of the Charterhouse of Serra San Bruno, Father Serafino Caminada. The documents he found in the archives, and penned in his own tiny handwriting, are precious to me and have allowed me to share some aspects of the Gagliatese grange.

The Borgias and Gagliato

Did you know that the Borgia family once ruled over Gagliato?

According to an article written by Francesco Pitaro, during the feudal fifteenth century, a certain Goffredo Borgia (brother of Cesare and Lucrezia Borgia) took control of the entire area by force, away from the Morano family who controlled it for most of the 1400’s. The Morano family was then licensed under a modus vivendi arrangement with Goffredo Borgia to continue to use the land.

The reason I’m writing this post today is because The Borgias mini-series will be broadcast beginning tonight. Who knows, maybe Gagliato or Catanzaro will be mentioned in this depiction of one of the most powerful (corrupt) families in the history of man (one title that the Borgia family held was the Princes of Squillace – Squillace is an area, including the Gulf of Squillace, just outside Catanzaro)? According to the Toronto Star, the story of the Borgias influenced Mario Puzo in the writing of The Godfather.

Here is the section of Francesco Pitaro’s article in the original Italian:

Di questo paese  [Gagliato] si hanno notizie storiche a partire dal XV secolo, allorché era un feudo della famiglia dei Morano che lo ebbe in proprietà fino a tutto il ‘400. Passò poi ai Borgia, principi di Squillace, che lo avevano sottratto ai Morano con la forza. Protagonista di questo fatto d’arme era stato Goffredo Borgia, fratello di Cesare, il Valentino, e di Lucrezia, sorretto da un gabellotto del luogo, tale Gironda. In seguito il feudo tornò ai legittimi proprietari in forza di un modus vivendi, con l’usurpatore Goffredo.

Nel 1494 Ferdinando I re di Napoli espropriò tutti i beni del Morano e li assegnò a Luca Sanseverino, barone di San Marco. Nel 1626, per vincolo matrimoniale, passò ai Sanchez de Luna i quali acquisirono il titolo di marchese. Infine, nel 1714, a questi succedettero i Sanseverino. Un decennio dopo fu riacquistato dai Sanchez de Luna che incardinarono il titolo di duca. A distanza di alcuni anni era questa famiglia di origine spagnola che lo alienò in favore  dei Castiglione Morelli che lo trasformarono in baronia.

Nel 1806 ebbe inizio l’eversione della feudalità a opera di Giuseppe Bonaparte e l’antico feudo di Gagliato fu trasformato in luogo appartenente al «governo» di Satriano. Con il successivo decreto istitutivo dei comuni, 4 maggio 1811, venne dichiarato comune del comprensorio di Chiaravalle Centrale.

(Francesco Pitaro in Gazzetta del Sud, 28 luglio 1996; lo stesso articolo, con opportuni aggiustamenti, l’autore ha pubblicato sul mensile della Giunta regionale della Calabria i Calabresi nel mondo, aprile 2000)


Do you remember when Sunday morning or Sunday, the day in general, was special?

For many years after my family’s arrival in Canada, Sunday morning was reserved for the Almighty, for friends, and for family. It was important to dress nicely and to visit God’s house; to visit or be visited by friends; and it was mandatory to transition the morning into a feast-ful delight of traditional Sunday lunch. The rest of the day was sometimes reserved for brief excursions or outings; otherwise, and yet again – the appreciation of family and friends. Many times all were combined into one.

Now it seems that Sunday has been reduced to the same status as every other day. Obviously, the behind-the-scenes forces have been very successful.

Many people are expected to or required to work; Church has been neutralized and completely racially transformed; friends and family can be always deferred to some other unidentified day or evening and week; and those special meals have become so special that they only happen monthly or quarterly. There is simply so much to do and going on that we can’t possibly fit it all in!

Why do I think this way? Actually, believe it or not, these thoughts were triggered by a very recent utterly ridiculous dumb event – banks now open for business on Sunday! Like, that is really necessary.

It was not long ago that banks were open 10:00am to 3:00pm., Monday to Friday only. [Banking jobs used to be revered because of that schedule.] Saturday banking was a novel idea introduced by TD Canada Trust (or its predecessors) and generally welcomed as a convenience boost, but mostly because of the otherwise restricted hours from Monday to Friday. Can someone explain to me why Sunday banking is now necessary? Maybe someone forgot that we’ve had 24/7 bank machines available for a very long time?

The other day I visited the bank and struck a conversation with the teller. When I casually remarked about the absurdity of Sunday banking, she reservedly told of how all bank employees have been put on notice that they will be allowed two consecutive “days off” weekly, but not necessarily Saturdays and Sundays. In other words, the work week will be on a “rolling” schedule, at the discretion of the bank.

Well, is it just a sign of the times or is it the “living” in the big city?

Remember the “Lord’s Day Act” – that obviously “archaic” legislation that permitted only “touristic” attractions and incidental businesses to open on Sundays? Wow, our society has really advanced itself by scrapping it…

So, just in case I confused you, this post is NOT about Sunday banking. It’s simply about Sunday.

Having had the misfortune of experiencing another era, my mind naturally wanders, and recalls when Sunday was really and truly… special.

An Invitation…

Well, good morning to everyone. It’s a beautiful sunny Sunday morning here in Toronto. I hope it’s great where you are as well.

This morning, as I do every morning, I came to the blog and I checked for any communication from anyone other than spammers (you know, those idiotic people and companies that send zillions of unwanted emails and other messages attempting to get a minute percentage to buy products). Spams are automatically rerouted to a folder which I delete every day.

Well, I find it AMAZING that the visits to this site continue to escalate (as of this moment – 1,862 since I recreated the site back in November 2010) but there is almost ZERO feedback or interaction! And, of course, spams are NOT included in those numbers.

I meet people here in Toronto who comment on how they enjoy visiting the blog and seeing the pictures and reading the commentary. So, to me, that is some evidence that the numbers are real and that there are Gagliatesi and friends of Gagliato behind those numbers. The question is, why remain silent? It’s lonely to sit here and simply publish and get almost ZERO in feedback.

This is NOT a commercial site. It is not a money-making venture for me or anyone else associated with me. I simply try to promote some culture – the culture of Gagliato – in whatever form it has morphed to over the recent years.

Whenever I visit the various Facebook pages that deal with Gagliato or the Facebook pages of whom I call “catalyst individuals” – those individuals who can by their sheer presence create mass interest and participation – I notice that it’s generally the same circle of people who participate in discussions. As I read their posts, I notice one very clear underlying constant – each is yearning to be connected to others with the same point of reference. I think that point of reference is… Gagliato.

As I have commented in other posts, the attempts by many others to create an on-line community focused on Gagliato and Gagliatesi have essentially and unfortunately failed – there has been zero to minimal activity for a long time. This site will continue for as long as I can maintain my commitment and interest. But, I have to tell you – it’s getting really lonely here.

Now, I know for a fact (from analyzing visitor data) that this site gets hits from the Gagliato area as well as from Italy, from Switzerland, from other European countries, from Australia, from the USA, along with the majority from Canada. And I also know that some if not most of those “catalyst individuals” whom I referred to above visit this blog. And, it should be noted that many who visit this site are not on Facebook. My invitation is to everyone, but especially to those people who know they can be catalysts in creating more participation, to give this site and blog a try, a chance, to make a difference. We are not a very large world community, but I believe we are a community worth preserving and I ask you to participate and assist me to make this site what is was always meant to be.

One comment per month from each of you would be a HUGE step forward!

I wish you all a good day and a great week.

2010… The Year That Was

Well, it’s that time again when we begin to ready ourselves for Christmas and the end of another year. Was this a significant year for you? Good? Bad? Memorable?

I think that this was definitely a significant year in Gagliato.

The year began with the town celebrating the 100th birthday of my Great Aunt Liberata Gareri. Significant indeed. At the same time (end of January), the town’s church, San Nicola Vescovo, suffered damage during a violent storm and that resulted in its closure for several months. Again, very significant for such a small town given that the lives of many revolve around their Church. Then, unexpectedly, the town was exposed to first-hand violence (assassinations) and repeated media attention as a result. Yet again, very significant for such a small town where everyone knows everyone else. That incident has had a very quieting effect on the entire town; likely a mix of fear, shock and disbelief.

Of course, many other events, regular in nature, took place and may have created some positive distraction – such events as NanoGagliato in July, the feast of San Nicola in August, and other town celebrations since.

On the “socio-cultural” side, one very important occurrence for 2010 was the demise of “La Strumba“, the very popular blog by Domenico Aspro. Domenico helped spur on discussion over the Internet on many diverse subjects. It was a unique approach and one that I am certain involved a lot of personal time. As I have learned from personal experience, maybe the expectations were too high… it is a monumental task attempting to garner and align the efforts of people that have a common connection. I miss you and “La Strumba“, Domenico!

As for the other “Gagliato” sites – the activity certainly appeared to wane as the year progressed – daily, weekly and sometimes monthly check-ins showed little change on the posts. However, the Facebook pages of a couple of the Associations appear to have some regular activity – so, there is some hope…

After a couple of years of significant visible cultural and social activity on the Internet, it appears that the Gagliato community prefers more quiet-ness now. That is a shame and I guess that such a fact may not bode well for participation levels on this site either…

I wish Gagliato a much more positive year in 2011.

Bring On 2010!

Well, it’s that time of year again when we reflect upon the year that was… and anxiously look forward to the next one.

Looking back and taking stock, 2009 was a very eventful year for the Gagliatese community. In Gagliato, a new mayor took the reigns after a very exciting electoral campaign; a new cultural group emerged in the Associazione Culturale di Gagliato “Gianni De Luca”; the Internet buzzed with Gagliato cultural activity created by several on-line groups; and too, the divisive and apathetic forces that plague the Gagliatese communities around the world continued to rear their ugly existence.

But, overall, it was a successful year for the Gagliatesi – because, culturally, more exists today than did a year ago. And most of it is on-line.

The question will be whether the Gagliatesi will do more with what they now have than they did in the past? For that to happen, what will be required is continued effort by the key parties who promote Gagliato culture and a tad more participation by Gagliatesi in general. We will be amazed what could be if everyone would participate just a little more.

But participate how?

First of all, read all or as much of the material that exists on the on-line sites dealing with Gagliato.

Secondly, constructively voice your opinions or sentiments about the existence of these sites and the subjects that they discuss. If you are concerned about exposing your identity, write to the administrators and specifically request that your identity not be disclosed, but that you want your opinion or sentiment shared with the community.

Thirdly, encourage the administrators who have taken significant amounts of time to generate the on-line sites.

Allowing yourself to be counted among the many who support the efforts will go a long way. And a year from now, we can look back and feel satisfied that we have created something greater still.

And remember, it’s not about money. It’s about retaining a cultural identity.