31d-Bella Italia in 1976: Gaeta

Our last week in Italy 1976. Fourth stop: Gaeta

Route from Positano to Gaeta.

Some facts about Gaeta

  • One of the most stunning attractions of Gaeta is the Montagna Spaccata.
    • The mountain has deep crevices that create a natural sea grotto.
  • The waters around the coastline of Gaeta appear a deep turquoise blue and provide a stunning contrast to the countryside.

Our Vacation in Italy 1976: Remembering Gaeta

Grandpa Sam’s nephew Gennaro Serrapede and his family hosted us while we stayed in Gaeta. Gennaro love to go diving and showed us many fragments of ancient pottery he found during his dives. I found these object fascinating. On one of them, the handle of an earthenware pot was covered with many tiny shells. Others had deposits built up on them that formed an ornamental scrollwork.  Gennaro displayed these finds on shelves throughout his apartment.

We went for a drive along the coastline, stopping to take photos of the narrow inlets and beaches below the highway. Each view was more beautiful than the next.

The last days of our travels were very hot and lazy. I remember falling into a deep sleep the night we were in Gaeta. I could hardly believe we would be returning to Rome the next day. Three weeks felt like three months. I wondered if I could get back into the faster-than-fast tempo of life once we got back to New York.

From Our Photo Album

Grandpa Sam, his nephew Gennaro, Grandma Josie and Grandpa’s niece Italia. Summer of 1976 in Gaeta.

Continue reading

21a-Scotti Family in Agropoli: Carmine and Maria Giovanna, Years of Hardship, Years of Good-byes

Acknowledgement

Anthony Vermandois’ research on the families of Agropoli provides the basis of this exploration into our ancestors. He has compiled vital statistics of many families from Agropoli and the nearby towns which are available at his site, Imagines Maiorum-Ancestors from Campania.

Readings from other sources were also used in the preparation of this posting. A list of the titles and URLs is provided at the end.

Relationship Notes

This posting highlights events during the lifetimes of:

Maria Giovanna di Giaimo
-born in Agropoli, 1845
-died Jan. 7, 1915 Agropoli

and

Carmine Scotti
-born in Agropoli, 1846
-no date of death available yet

Carmine and Maria Giovanna (nee di Giamo) Scotti were:
–Sammy’s maternal Great Grandparents
–EmilyAnn’s maternal 2nd Great Grandparents

 

The Fisherman and his family: A Bittersweet Life

“A Neopolitan Fisherman” by Dominique-Louis-Fereol Papety.

Today we often see the phrase “Bella Italia” describing the natural and cultural beauties of the country. Artists of the past such as Dominique-Louis-Fereol Papety were inspired to leave their home countries to live in Italy.  Papety’s painting “A Neopolitan Fisherman” depicts a muscular, barefoot man dressed in the attire of a Neopolitan fisherman playing his mandolin on the beach while a woman with gold earrings and colorful headscarf looks on.  When I first saw this painting I thought it was too romantic to convey any truth about what life was like during the time Carmine and Maria Giovanna lived.  Having looked at the painting each day for the past two weeks I can now say it conveys a message.

The message speaks of a bittersweet life. It is a life filled with the rough beauty of nature.  The lives of those living amidst this nature are held captive by its unpredictability.  The fisherman and the peasant woman have a look of care and concern on their faces even though the moment when they hear the music gives them a chance to pause from their labors.  The rocks that dominate the foreground of the painting speak of a hard life.  No soft meadows or flowers adorn the landscape.  The sky is filled with many clouds.  The sun might or might not break through.

As a fisherman, Carmine depended on good weather and favorable conditions to yield the bounties of the sea when he spread the nets to make a catch. The families of Agropoli could also grow figs, olives or other fruits and vegetables if they had a even a small patch of land or a garden as a means to supplement their diet.  Even then nature held the upper hand and could provide abundance or devastation depending on forces that were out of a person’s control.

Maria and Carmine came of age during a period of great change as Italy united into one kingdom. Despite the natural beauty of their environment and the unification of the country the impression we have received is that very little change came into the lives of the poor in Southern Italy to make life better, easier or more hopeful for the future.

After the unification of Italy in 1861, Southern Italians now paid higher taxes to the northern part of the country rather than to local overlords. The new parliament located in Turin, in Northern Italy, had no interest or connection to the hardships of the Southern Italians.  Equally distant, the Southern Italians did not grasp the concept of a unified country having only the understanding of loyalty to their townsmen and locality.

Continue reading