Sunday, February 06, 2011

WANTED: New Residents

Wanted: Residents to live in a charming Italian village. Must want a slower-paced life, laid-back mountain atmosphere, and crave fresh, local foods. Should be middle-age or younger, child-bearing age is even better; should be in good health. You'll enjoy gorgeous landscapes, centuries-old traditions, inexpensive housing, and warm hospitality.


I'm tired of funerals.  Today I attended another one, my third since arriving here in September.  It's the unfortunate fact of life that many residents are elderly and infirm, but it still seems an unusually high number even considering that.  I've never had to attend three funerals in a year before, much less in five months.  Villagers are beseeching us to import some new blood to help replenish the town.

It's not that there aren't people our age, and there *are* lots of kids running around; but unfortunately the history of southern Italy over the past 150 years has been one of emigration.  Many have moved to the north or to other countries to find better-paying jobs, or with a vision that "life will be better" in an urban or industrial center.  With just over 600 inhabitants, we really can't afford to lose any more to death or migration!

Italian funerals are an interesting contrast to the American traditions.  In the US, due to the vastness of the country and the tendency to have family dispersed in different states, funerals are usually three or four days after the person has died.  Here two days seems to be the maximum as chemicals aren't used to preserve the body.  Giuseppe passed away yesterday morning and the funeral was held today at 3:30 p.m.  (A friend informs us that by law they must wait at least 24 hours before burial to ensure that the person has, in fact, died.)

The funeral actually begins before the church ceremony.  People gather at the giardino and await the hearse.  The priest leads the procession, praying aloud as the hearse, the family of the deceased, and the townspeople follow slowly uphill to the church.  Following the funeral Mass, everyone lines up to offer condolences and then group around in the upper piazza until the casket is placed into the hearse and the procession slowly snakes down the hill through town.  The shops and coffee bars close during the funeral and remain shuttered until after the hearse has passed enroute to the cimitero.  It is a sweet gesture of respect, I think.

Giuseppe was the brother of our upstairs neighbor who passed away in October.  He was elderly and not in the best of health, and I saw a decline in him after Fabrizio had died.  Still, it came as a surprise and I was sad for him.  He was always very sweet to me.  He had retired from a lifetime of work on the national police force, and during the weeks that I was here alone, before Bryan arrived, he would sometimes come down to check in on me when he came to visit his brother, just to make sure I was alright here on my own.  He always smiled, stopped and kissed my cheek when he saw me on the street. 

The thing I love about living here is how intimate it seems, how people welcome us in and accept us as a part of the community.  That also means accepting the losses when they come and mourning together in cases such as these.  But it's still a bit difficult.  I mean, nobody likes funerals.  And I'd like to not have to attend any more for a while.

So, if you know anybody who wants to help repopulate a pretty village and contribute to lowering the average age, please let me know.  New residents are dearly wanted.

23 comments:

Annika said...

So sorry to hear the news :(

I'll talk to my husband and see if we can help ;)

Valerie said...

Annika - Please hurry! ;)

Eleftheria said...

I wish, I am Greek-American, who lives in the north of Greece and I teach EFL and would LOVE to be able to go to Italy even on a temporary, annual basis to teach and practice my Italian !!! I would finally be the type of Greek who goes back to their village for the holidays and summer. I must be the only Greek who is not from a village.
Grazie e baci.
Eleftheria

Valerie said...

Eleftheria - Brava, I'd love to visit Greece. You might find yourself at home in this part of Italy, though - it had been part of Magna Grecia!

Evey said...

I was very touched by your blog as just this morning I saw a hearse stop just across the road and it took my breadth away for a moment but it was stopping to put up two notices on the wall of deaths and quickly cars stopped to read the news and talk about it. lt was personal and immediate, just like you said.

janie said...

I wish I could say that we were on our way to live there.We talk about renting a place in Calitri for a while and using it as a base to explore the south.

Ken said...

Sounds like fun...especially since I'm single! Would you get some sort of commission for each new baby?

j3dnight said...

If someone could find me a job I would be there in a NY minute! It is my dream :)

The Carpenters said...

Hi Valerie-

I've been reading your blog for a couple of years now, but you wouldn't know that as I don't comment often :(. I've really enjoyed reading it though:).
I'm studying for my TEFL certificate right now, can speak Italian at about a kindergartener's level (maybe a bit more...), have a marito who can work from any location in the world (as long as there is an internet connection!) and (this might be the ringer) a 4 year-old-daughter with an Italian name. Where can I submit my application to your commune? :)
Thank you for your continued blogging - it's inspiration!
Amanda C

Rosaly Raimondi said...

Hi Valerie,

You must have heard about me and my origins from Latronico (bisnonno).
At this very precise moment in time I am planning a move to Italy, but must find the right place for me. I am going to spend a month in Tuscanny now in March-April to study the situation. But my mind is open as to where to settle, as long as it pleases my craving soul!
Big warm hug
Rose

Valerie said...

Evey - when the bells toll it is even more emotional. They don't do it every time though and we aren't sure why/why not.

Janie - That would be great - good locale and you'll feel connected to your roots. (Plus it's not very far from here, we'd be able to get together ;)

Ken - Hey, that's a good idea! I'll have to bring that up at the next town council meeting!

j3dnight - I know, that's the problem most of us have. But the cost of living is *way* lower here so you don't have to make as much.

Amanda - Brava, getting the TEFL certificate is a good idea. Since your husband can work anywhere you're set to go. Your daughter will be very doted on here! I'll accept and submit your application for you ;)

Hi Rose! Great...I'm sure you'll find the right place. I know what you mean, we were fortunate to find a place that fills the heart. If you make it to the south, let us know.

makehasteslowly said...

Well we're barely middle age anymore, so I guess we don't qualify. And, we've done what you have but in a small NC mountain town. Too, we get to visit Orvieto twice a year. Come visit when we're there! Abbracci! Bill

rosaria said...

I'll pass this on to my children of bearing age. It would be ironic, in our case, as I left Basilicata in my youth for greener pastures, and here I'm encouraging my children to move back!

Great post on funeral practices, btw.

LindyLouMac said...

Are there properties available for these proposed new residents to purchase though? Our experience has shown that families hate to sell and leave houses empty for years!

J.Doe said...

I am sorry to hear about the funerals. You say in the US they wait 3 to 4 days between death and the burial and they use chemicals to preserve the dead, but this is only in Christian funerals. Jewish funerals are kind of like what you described as going on in the village...a funeral the next day after death (24 hours) and no preservatives or removal of blood. The coffin used in a US jewish funeral is the simplest kind of pine box available - usually with holes in it.

Valerie said...

Bill - They're not really stringent about the "lower than middle age" requirement, but good health is definitely needed. ;) Would love to visit you two in Orvieto!

Rosaria - Tell them to come! It is a little ironic; I often wonder what my grandmother would have said about our reverse migration.

LindyLou - Yes, there are lots of houses for sale, in fact. A sad part of the emigration of the south is partially abandoned historic centers.

J. - Thanks for informing me; I agree it's more sensible. I have never understood the whole preservation with chemicals thing and how that became so standard. I'm sure 100 years ago everyone was just buried like they still do here. Boh!

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Saretta said...

Hi Valerie, I haven't visited your blog for quite a while, and was happy to find it again! Doing my best to repopulate Puglia right now, you'll have to take care of Basilicata! ;-)

Valerie said...

Ciao Saretta! Brava...maybe we need to coordinate our efforts! Hope to be able to meet up sometime, being as we're regional neighbors. :)

Linda @ IceTeaForMe said...

As many others have commented I too hope to find a town to either buy a home in or make it my home base when I'm in Italy. Your town sounds lovely and quaint.

Unfortunately I'm looking for a town that is reachable by train and within 1-1 1/2 hours from an international airport among other criteria.

I hope to visit the Southern part of Italy someday. Good luck on your search for residents…

Linda

Philippines properties for sale said...

I think that is a great place to lived in. Nice photo too.

Angelo H