Tuesday, March 02, 2010

The Village

The village is small, just about 600 inhabitants.  A friend quipped that we're raising the number to 602.  While it's a little joke it is also a small point of pride because in these parts and all throughout the Mezzogiorno, small towns like this are losing population numbers annually as kids go away to college in the north and others seek work in industrial centers throughout Europe, never to return to their roots.  Those who remain are somewhat resigned, shrugging sadly and sighing, "Beh, e' cosi'" (It's how it is) - while wishing otherwise.

We are rather surprised that more people don't live here because it is within commuting distance to Potenza, which is both the Regional and Provincial capital.  The village is certainly much more picturesque and less costly, but apparently city living is more attractive than hamlet life.

Not to us.  We like the piccoli paesi with their medieval centers, sinewy pedestrian-only streets, and friendly shopkeepers.  We like that the caffe owner already knows us - and how we prefer our caffe' (or the locally-loved espressino, as the case may be), and like exchanging a few words with Giovanni at the little supermercato while stocking up on meal provisions.  And this level of familiarity is after an all-too brief visit; I have been shopping at the same stores here in Viriginia for several months without a single employee recognizing me, greeting me warmly, or even attempting anything akin to an actual conversation.

Our village may be small but it is not spartan.  It has practically everything we need for daily life; the necessities that we can't find here can be procured in Potenza.  There are three bars, two food shops, and a fruit and veggie store, along with a butcher, a baker, and an iron-works maker.  They have a respectable weekly mercato, and a pretty piazza for gathering and gabbing.

The views from the ridgetop are mesmerizing.  Verdant, thickly-forested mountains unfold into thin, jagged gorges.  Birds with differing songs raise harmonized chirpings in the chill morning sun.  Hawks and falcons dance on the wind currents.  Faint fluffs of clouds skid along the peaks and tuck into hillside folds and hang suspended above the river valley.  Distant sheep bells clatter a rhythmic melody.

We have been hesitant to put the name "out there"; once it's online it can't be erased.  We have decided to call the village Lucanella.  Being newcomers into such a small town we don't want to publicize the real name of the village, unsure of how our fellow townsfolk would react to internet publicity.  We would never want them to think we're patronizing or exploiting them.  Besides, at the moment we feel rather possessive, and kind of like it being our little secret.

Lucanella will be home...one day.  For the moment our bodies are in Virginia, but our hearts are on that hilltop.  I close my eyes and I can hear the tinny clang of the church bells.  I can see the barista's smiling face and feel her warm and enthusiastic embrace when I told her we purchased the appartamento.  I walk through the streets in my nearly-asleep state each evening and say buona notte to the sheep in the valley below.  But I'm not asleep, it's not a dream.  Lucanella is real...it has already become a part of us, and we are slowly becoming a part of the village, as well.


Lost in Sicily said...

now I REALLY want to know the name of your village (can you blame me, it is beautiful!). love the sound of your old home and village life.

Miss Footloose said...

How lovely your life sounds in your Italian village. Now you are in Viriginia. I know how you feel.

Having lived abroad for many years, we are now in WV, (not far from Leesburg, VA) and everything is set up so large and vast, it's almost impossible to make personal contacts.

We've been to Italy several times and will go again this summer, looking for a more permanent "perch", probably in Campania or Umbria."

You're lucky you've found your place!

carol said...

So evocatively written, Valerie...you have really captured "the feeling".

Anonymous said...

I can't wait to visit you there!!!

Marian314 said...

Ah, valerie, I wish the best for you and Lucanella.

(But too bad about those Virginia shopkeepers ----- they don't know what they're missing.)

Valerie said...

Lost - You'll have to cross the straight and come to Basilicata and visit someday. :)

Miss Footloose - We really enjoyed our time in southern Campania (Cilento). I'm sure you'll find a place you love. Are you in Harper's Ferry? If you come to N.Va. give me a holler.

Carol - Thanks. You'll soon be writing these kinds of posts from Lazio!

Anonymous - Great! (Diane? Is that you? ;)

Marian - Thanks. You'll have to plan another trip to beautiful Basilicata next year.

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

sounds beautiful! Will you be able to split you time between Italy and Virgina?

travelingsuep said...

Congratulations. I've just read up from the key blog and think you have a fabulous new/old home. I hope the old key turns up one day, my rusty one always creates comments from friends.

janie said...

It sounds perfect and I think you are right not to publicly announce where it is!

Michelle | Bleeding Espresso said...

*So* with you :) Enjoy!

Valerie said...

Ragazza - For the time being we'll have to be back and forth, but we want to get back there full time asap.

Travelingsuep - Thanks, we love it! How great you have the old rusty key...hope ours will show up someday.

Janie - Thanks! Of course you and J can come visit someday.

Michelle - I know you are. I bet your village is pretty similar to ours, just with sea views.

Judy said...

Valerie, I so enjoyed this post! My family roots are in Molise, a village called Lucito. I am wanting to visit that area of Italy and maybe come back after our initial visit to stay for 6 months or a year. Neither my husband nor I speak Italian - a big handicap in small villages. I can understand a little if spoken slowly and clearly. Mostly just words here and there. I keep reading all these blogs from Italy to the point that I feel homesick! You are the first blogger from the area I want to visit/stay in so I'm really enjoying the reading. Thank you so much for such eloquent descriptions of your "new" home.

Anonymous said...

i know you are busy..but please--more!

Melissa Muldoon said...

Ciao Valerie! Che bell'avventura! I just found your blog and have spent a little time getting acquainted with you. It seems that "Italian blogdom" is a friendly place, as I recognize many here already...Carol and Michelle to name a few. I look forward to following your journey and living vicariously through your travels. Very jealous. I write a blog in Italian called "Diario di una Studentessa Matta" http://melissamuldoon.wordpress.com because I am crazy and passionately in love with the Italian language. I imagine you are quite proficient in the language and I welcome your help and input on my journey to become Italian through the language! Auguri!

M said...

I wish you much luck and happiness in your new home! My family is from a little village called 'Bella' in Potenza and from photos I've seen, the area is beautiful.