Friday, June 12, 2015

Rant Time

Red roofs of Pettorano

 “Maybe your country is only a place you make up in your own mind. Something you dream about and sing about. "    ~ Hugo Hamilton

 I cannot help but get very homesick each time I go to Pettorano sul Gizio, birthplace of my grandparents. I have never lived there, but I dream about it always, and I feel a deep connection whenever I walk the streets. I also get very heartsick.
Above the altar in San Rocco, Pettorano
Each time we the very quiet streets of Pettorano, we see very few people. You may remember that my cousin, Rosa, walked me around town a few years ago and pointed to house-after-house telling me that they were, "abbandonata (abandoned)."  The young people leave because there really are no jobs there. It's sad to see such a beautiful place fading. I know that statement may make some residents and natives angry, but it is the truth.  I have visited a number of small towns in Abruzzo over the past five years, and the only one I have seen that has nothing to draw people to her is Pettorano.

In Pacentro two weeks ago, we had a wonderful meal and walked the town. People were out enjoying the day, sitting in bars, shopping in little stores that sell items made by locals.  In Santo Stefano two days later, we experienced the same thing as well as a demonstration of tombolo (a local art) and cheese, wine, and salami tastings in two of the three stores there that sell local products.  There are fewer residents in both of those towns, and one of them—Santo Stefano—is in an area quite remote from Sulmona. Neither one is any prettier than Pettorano; I actually think Pettorano is more beautiful. 

However, while both of the other two had tourists walking around and enjoying what the two towns have to offer, Pettorano had nothing but a tabbachi, a bar, and two restaurants, neither of which ever answered my emails about bringing my groups there for lunch or dinner.  I'm also upset that I have yet to see a sign announcing the Festa of Santa Margherita, patron saint of Pettorano, and it's in July.  Let's advertise the festival and get people to come.

 I'll be honest. It angers me to see this. I want to bring people to Pettorano to share not only the history but also the culture of this wonderful place. Why, I wonder, do the locals and the town administration not see that they can make it shine? Are they afraid that tourists will make the town lose its culture? Its charm? Its peace and quiet?  I didn't see any problems  in any of the towns i've visited over the past five years.

Fountain near the castle in Pettorano
I love Pettorano.  I dream about her every night.  I just wish I could do more.

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