Category Archives: Opinion + Commentary

Opinions and commentary about particular subject matter or posts.

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.

Apathy Or Avoidance?

Are there too many web sites promoting Gagliato culture?

Let’s take stock of the websites that attempt to attract the gagliatese community. These are the main sites I’m aware of that compete for attention:

1. gagliato.info (this site) http://www.gagliato.info
2. A Strumba di Domenico Aspro http://lastrumbadialettica.myblog.it/
3. Associazione Culturale Ergon http://gagliato.spaces.live.com/
4. Associazione Culturale di Gagliato “Gianni De Luca” http://gagliato-associazioneculturaledeluca.myblog.it/
5. Vincenzo Pitaro http://www.vincenzopitaro.it/vipit.htm
6. Gagliato Club on Facebook [you have to register for Facebook and then seach and join “Gagliato Club”]

So, six main sites… if you ask me, that is a great compliment paid to the gagliatese community! [Just for the record, there are other sites but they are not very active.] So much activity on the Internet for such a small community! And you know what? Each of these sites offers something different. All except http://www.gagliato.info and that of Vincenzo Pitaro’s, are blogs. All except http://www.gagliato.info, originate or are controlled from Gagliato.

But, are they truly complementary and complimentary or is there something else going on behind the scenes?

Unfortunately, it appears to many that the gagliatese community sees these sites as examples of divided realities. Each of the sites is yet another instance of non-cooperation. Some conclude that it’s simply the “gagliatese way” and we should not expect more or better. Can anyone imagine what it would be like if there would be only ONE site and each of the people or groups behind the present sites would cooperate? Hey, almost like a newspaper where there would be many sections/departments and many writers covering many different topics? All contributing to the a powerful single delivery!

If all of these sites truly care for the gagliatese culture, they would cooperate and unite to create a consolidated delivery. But that may be too serious a compromise, so I doubt that it will ever happen. That is really too bad because in the absence of a unified effort all will have to endure the continuance of apathy and avoidance.

The Journey

by Linda (Giannotti) Del Bene (Connecticut, USA)

My father made a couple of trips back to Italy and Gagliato in the late 80′s and by then I was married with 2 children. Each time he wanted me to come with him and it hurt so much for me not to be able to go with him. But it was exciting to sit with him when he came back home to look at all the pictures he took and hear the stories of his experiences. On his last trip, he had become ill while there and he had to return early, only to be gone from us a year later. His experiences that he shared with me and this “unfinished” visit fed my desire to visit Italy, especially Gagliato.

My first trip to Italy, I dedicated to my father. It was my desire to “finish” the trip for him and, more importantly, for he and I to spiritually share this trip together. I wanted to be alone with him, wanting no one to intrude on this “spiritual journey”. My quest was to see Gagliato through his eyes; walk the streets he walked as a boy growing up there and as a man returning many years later; to see where it all began – where I began and to find, with simply an old, faded photograph, the very first house Nannu built in Gagliato.

Arriving in Soverato, a city I often heard my family, especially my father, talk about, I was filled with emotion. I descended from my train and stepped onto the platform where so many, many years ago, my father, as a small boy, carried luggage to earn money. Not even yet in Gagliato, I was walking in his footsteps!

Up above Soverato, on this clear September day, I could make out the faint mountain-side towns, knowing that one of them was Gagliato. So I boarded the little blue bus in Soverato to embark on my journey up an old, winding hillside road; the road my father, as a young boy, traversed daily to the Soverato train station. Suddenly, as the road levelled, a small sign on the right-hand side of the road, beneath a bending tree, announced my arrival in Gagliato, and for a moment I was struck with awe and disbelief that I was really here; that Gagliato did indeed exist.

Stepping from the bus, an amazing hush met me and the absence of people except for a few men. The view up Via Regina Margherita was vacant, sunny, strange; and yet, I knew it. Walking up that “famed” street, I saw the palazzo Nannu later built for the family; the palazzo where my family still resided. Looking across the valley on my left, I saw the little, years-old vacant house that was the very first house Nannu built; the little house I heard so much about growing up. What a tremendous feeling it was for me to put my hand on the wall of that little house; to walk on the very ground where it all began; to feel my father smiling down on me.

It is the stories and traditions and language that was an integral part of my upbringing that makes me value my ethnicity. To keep our culture and traditions alive, it is important to share our stories with our children and grandchildren. It should provide them with a sense of their selves set the spark to further research their roots and, perhaps, visiting the very place where the stories originated.

I do not speak Gagliatese nor understand it too much anymore. I speak Italian fluently enough to function quite easily in Italy and for the year I lived there. However, the Gagliatese dialect is part of our history, is special and should be kept alive.

And so, in closing, my upbringing such as it was, leaves only a slight language barrier that separates me from Gagliato, nothing more.

Ti Amo Papa!

The Call Of Gagliato

by Linda (Giannotti) Del Bene (Connectictut, USA)

What is this place, Gagliato, that is ingrained into oneself from earliest understanding? Where is this place, Gagliato, that possesses one’s thoughts throughout a lifetime? What makes a small child sit at the edge of the seashore to just stare out eastward over the sea wondering about a land she hears about so much; what it looks like, feels like?

This child is Gagliatese; who she is; born into regardless of not being born there; yet possessing the blood, heart, soul of Gagliato. When the child is grown, people wonder about the strong attachment and heartfelt affinity with the people of the “old country”. To some, this strong attachment and affinity could be looked upon as somewhat of an oddity for a person born and raised in America.

The explanation is simple. The child is Gagliatese; birthplace of the father, grandparents, great-grandparents; where still to this day remain members of the immediate family who still reside and live.

This child, being the first of the family to be born in the new world, became part of and totally immersed into this Gagliatese nucleus that was to last 12 years; living in a neighborhood inhabited predominantly of Italian immigrants, (including a large extended family) most of which were from Gagliato, speaking language(s) that were a mixture of Gagliatese, various other dialects of Italian, broken English. The stories of Gagliato abounded; just about everything had a relationship to Gagliato.

This “little Italy”, rich in its roots and traditions provided the “backdrop” for this child, seeing everything done the Italian way and hearing the Gagliatese dialect. It is within this neighborhood and with these people where the child felt safe and secure; developing a true sense of identity of ethnicity, and how these influences formed the child’s philosophy throughout its life.

At the age of 12, the child is shattered to learn that circumstances deemed it necessary to move out of the beloved neighborhood. The Gagliatese dialect and Italian, no longer being heard on a daily basis, was forgotten as the child is now immersed into a world of mixed cultures, proving to be a little intimidating to one who did not fully understand the exposure to a more completely American/Americanized environment. A child who never fully understood what some of her peers were talking about regarding their lives and activities and not being allowed to participate in because it went against beliefs.

Hopefully it is easier for one to grasp that being raised with the principles and traditions of the Gagliatese, it is that environment within which the child felt more comfortable and upholds to this day and setting a goal to visit Italy and Gagliato and even to live there. The stories told by the family, the traditions by which we lived form the ethnic character of the child that carries them throughout life.

In The Quiet Of The Mind There Is Gagliato

In the past, I have written that many people who were born in Gagliato and have emigrated away likely do not discuss “Gagliato” openly, but they do hold it, the town and/or the concept, very dear to their heart — in silence. It’s almost like suffering in silence. I believe those individuals have a lot to contribute to our understanding of Gagliato and Gagliatesi, and I would be fascinated by their contributions.

For culture to remain strong, it must be passed on. I urge you to consider sharing your experiences with the members of this forum — and the world.