It has been established that I am not the world’s best navigator. I am surprisingly adept at finding my way through cities on foot, yet in a car, I am totally useless. Since Mamma Parla drives and I ride shotgun, I learn to depend heavily on Google Maps to fulfill my purpose. But since my crap iPhone battery dies daily before late afternoon, I was little help in guiding us and when we pulled off the highway at the requisite exit at 5pm, the sun was beginning to set over Basilicata and the so-close-yet-so-far town of Spinoso. It was clear that we wouldn’t make it before dark (at least not with me navigating blind), so we decided to postpone our journey until the morning and sought accommodations in Viggiano.

Spinoso was so close that we could see it in the distance, perched on a rocky peak overlooking Lago di Pietra del Pertusillo, a manmade lake created by damning the Agri River. As we gazed over the valley, it occurred to me that our ancestors hadn’t seen the lake at all, which was built in the 1950s and 60s. The nature of their town, its irrigation and climate must have been so different when they left more than a century ago. I wondered where in the town they had lived and if their homes still existed.

Those questions would have to wait till the morning to even be asked. After a night in the ridiculously cute Viggiano, we drove down the mountain and around the lake to Spinoso. Armed with photocopies of passports, marriage certificates and a sketchy hand written family tree, we made our way to this remote town of 1,594 inhabitants we were sure–or at least we thought at the time–was our ancestral land. We were soon to find out.

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Basilicata · Culture · Travel

8 Comments:


  • Oooh, how exciting! (and difficult, and stressful, but hopefully mainly exciting!) I’ve always wanted to go to ‘Lucania’, ever since reading Christ Stopped At Eboli. I have no idea how your journey is going to end but I hope you find out about your ancestors and maybe even find some living relatives. I’m looking forward to the next installment. This will make a great film one day! ;-)


  • CONGRATULATIONS TO HOW YOU REALLY WAS NOW READY TO PUT THE BEAUTIFUL PICTURES OF THE COUNTRY, I HAVE READ ON YOUR BLOG THAT YOU ATTENDED A COURSE WOULD BE GLAD TO A Sommelier YOUR JUDGEMENT ON YOU JUST MY SPARKLING taste, GREETINGS ANDREA


  • Pick me up a postcard from Potenza if it is on your sojourn! I’m longing to go there!


  • Hey, buy a car phone charger for your iphone, girl. Mine was less than $15 and it works great. Apple sells one for a little more, but might be easiest to get.

  • Katie

    @pete here’s what we’ve found so far http://www.parlafood.com/a-thorny-family-tree-emerges-in-basilicata/

    @Andrea grazie!!! non vedo l’ora di assaggiare lo spumante. magari la prossima bottiglia stappiamo insieme alla sagra ad agosto:)

    @theresa swung by potenza for 2 minutes today but there weren’t any post cards where we were…just one ugly/beautiful concrete bridge by musmeci

    @mitch i know, man. i bought that battery thing that makes your iphone look fat and ugly and i lost the damn charger for it. im a mess.


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  • [...] the crisis are already wreaking havoc on small food economies. I saw this first hand last year when visiting my ancestral homeland. In Basilicata, many villages have supermarkets but do not have a single bakery, produce stall or [...]


  • Your story brings back fond memories my family
    came from Spinoso My grandfather arrived in N.Y.
    Ellis Isl. 1909 my wife & I went for a visit to
    Spinoso in 2009 beautiful town & people

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