By Joseph Zara
Florence, Italy - Spring 2003
My goal was to reach Sant'Angelo Dei Lombardi, take pictures, explore and take in the environment that my great grandparents had lived in 100 years ago. I am proud to say that I have done all I set out to do. Not one part about getting there was easy. Yet deep down I kept going because I had a feeling that everything would somehow work out.this was something I was supposed to be doing.
It seemed as if the town itself was an old treasure chest. It was not easy to find and not easy to open but with some effort and a little patience its treasures began to appear around every corner. This town was so hard to get to, and was equally difficult to get back (to Salerno) because this particular day, May 1st was a national holiday in Italy. All shops were closed and hardly any buses were running to and from Avellino. Adversity definitely makes victory sweeter because I did a whole lot to make this happen. I saw a few churches, I saw the breathtaking landscapes of surrounding areas, I saw Italian people as I had always envisioned them-their looks, and actions reminded me of Brooklyn (where I am from). I even saw an old age home that was built by a native of Sant'Angelo who now resides in Brooklyn. Right outside the door was a large plaque thanking, "Those people who contributed from Brooklyn and Long Island." If seeing Brooklyn and Long Island etched on the side of a wall hidden on a side street of the small town of Sant'Angelo Dei Lombardi in the mountains of southern Italy is not a coincidence, then I do not know what is.
I took many pictures of many things-I was so happy to have a digital camera and a memory card that could hold hundreds of pictures. But you know what they say, "photography is a hobby that never fails to work up an appetite." I asked around and found a ristorante right near my bus stop called La Locanda. It was so beautiful and nicely decorated and there were many families eating and laughing together. I ordered water, bread, spaghetti al pomodoro, and bistecca al vitello. Everything was amazing (even the water tasted especially good). The sauce on the spaghetti was so good. Mere words fail to bring justice to the experience. The bistecca was a typical dish from Sant'Angelo and was also very good.
After my very enjoyable dinner (I left at 4:40pm), I of course found a small bar in the piazza with the water fountain and had a pizza. That was good as well and there I met a very nice old lady named Doneata. She was a nice healthy (chubby) lady with a small kerchief over her head. We started talking and I told her of my journey. She asked me why my great grandparents left Sant'Angelo Dei Lombardi and to that I had no answer because to me it was the most beautiful place in the world.
After, I left Doneata I headed for my bus stop. At 5:15pm a Sita bus drove right past me-I sprinted to catch it but to no avail. I thought that it had come early, saw no one waiting, and simply drove off. I went back to the bus stop at 5:25pm and prayed that my bus would still come at 5:50pm (when it was scheduled to arrive). I began to think that I would be stranded here with my things back in Salerno and no place to stay. I was sitting across from the statue that had greeted me when I arrived and started to get lost in worried thought.