My grandmother's hometown: Craco

Friday, August 29, 2008

We spent the night in Matera and visited the Sassi di Matera in the early morning. We headed down the winding roads to Craco where my nonna (grandmother) was born. As we drove up to see the abandoned town of Craco, which is shown in the picture, I burst out crying. I had never met my nonna and yet suddenly felt close to her.

We stopped in at the archivio (archives) to see about getting a fotocopia (photocopy) of my nonna's birth record. The office is located in the new town where the inhabitants have moved to, which is about 7 kilometers before the abandoned city.

The woman in the archives came out after her colleague called her. She greeted us with a stern face and said, "Dovevete chiamarmi prima. You should've called me first." We arrived more than an hour before they closed, and I had assumed that it would be as easy as it was the day before in Conca della Campania to just photocopy the page on which my nonna is listed. The town only has about 900 inhabitants now and I had assumed that not many people come to the archivio.

She explained the process to get copies, which included writing a written request and sending payment. The more she spoke to us, the more I realized that she wasn't going to budge and help me. I put away my documents, then turned and walked away. I was so disappointed by the woman's unwillingness to help me that I had to leave. I felt frustrated, angry, and sad and feared that my reaction would not be appropriate as I was already feeling emotional about being in my nonna's paesino.

We drove through the arid countryside to the old city of Craco perched on the hillside with all the ingredients to make a couple of panini (sandwiches). We ate our panini as we stood in the shade to look up at Craco. The more I looked at it, the more I became intrigued by it.

We walked around the abandoned city and took many photos of it. We had to be careful because many of the buildings are in ruins. We heard from someone in Matera that there is still a pastore (shepherd) living in the ruins of Craco. He obviously let the sheep graze freely in Craco as we saw what they left behind.

We navigated as much of the town as we could and even entered one of the churches that was still standing.

When we reached the bottom, we spoke to two men who were born in Craco and now live below. The two men had very strong accents that at times I didn't understand and looked to Alessandro to help me, but he didn't comprehend much more than I did. One of the men said, "Era un paese nobile. Craco was a noble town."

I was sad to leave Craco behind, but am happy about all the photos I took. We headed for Lecce because Alessandro said that it's the "Firenze del sud Florence of the South."

We wandered the streets and saw many of the Baroque architecture lit up against the dark sky. What amazed me most about Lecce was that as we walked around at 11pm, the streets were as full as they are in Florence at noon. Stores, restaurants, cafés, and bars were all open. A mostra (exhibition) was even bursting with people.

I loved being back in a bustling city again as we had only visited small towns since we left Florence. I can't imagine what my nonni (grandparents) must have felt when they arrived in New York after coming from their small towns. Both of them were born in towns where the population barely exceeded 1000.

I hope it was exciting to them as I find much joy in big cities. I do love the smaller towns as well because they are so quaint, but there is definitely something magical about the big cities, which offer so much to those who come to them.

If you have any comments, please share them on the Living in Florence's FaceBook page. Grazie!

August 2008


December 2014

November 2014

October 2014

September 2014

August 2014

July 2014

June 2014

May 2014

April 2014

March 2014

February 2014

January 2014

December 2013

November 2013

October 2013

September 2013

August 2013

July 2013

June 2013

May 2013

April 2013

March 2013

February 2013

January 2013

December 2012

November 2012

October 2012

September 2012

August 2012

July 2012

June 2012

May 2012

April 2012

March 2012

February 2012

January 2012

December 2011

November 2011

October 2011

September 2011

August 2011

July 2011

June 2011

May 2011

April 2011

March 2011

February 2011

January 2011

December 2010

November 2010

October 2010

September 2010

August 2010

July 2010

June 2010

May 2010

April 2010

March 2010

February 2010

January 2010

December 2009

November 2009

October 2009

September 2009

August 2009

July 2009

June 2009

May 2009

April 2009

March 2009

February 2009

January 2009

December 2008

November 2008

October 2008

September 2008

August 2008

July 2008

June 2008

May 2008

April 2008

March 2008

February 2008

January 2008

December 2007

November 2007

October 2007

September 2007

August 2007

July 2007

June 2007

May 2007

April 2007

March 2007

February 2007

January 2007

December 2006

November 2006

October 2006

September 2006

August 2006

July 2006

June 2006

May 2006

April 2006

March 2006

February 2006

January 2006

December 2005

November 2005

October 2005

September 2005

August 2005

July 2005

June 2005

May 2005

April 2005

March 2005

February 2005

January 2005

December 2004

November 2004

Travel Blogs