Thursday, September 16, 2010

Day 7 Castrovillari/Tropea

We were really wondering why we had only booked one night at Il Gabbiano. But we were excited to see what we found further into Calabria!

My grandfather's people are from this region so we really wanted to go visit some of the places where my ancestors had come from. My great-great grandfather was born in Castrovillari--up in the mountains--in 1847. There's a story in the family that he was studying to be a priest when he met his wife. He married in 1876, had a few children in the same town before moving to Alessandria del Caretto--another town on the eastern side of the mountains. They had a few more children there, one of them my great grandfather that later came to America to raise his family here.

We did a lot of driving. In our cute little Fiat Panda.

The mountains were really beautiful, but so hazy. We got to Castrovillari after lunch, when pretty much everything had closed up until 4 or so. But we poked around as best we could, looking for places my ancestors might have seen when they were here.

I'll translate the best I can..and also with the help of Google Translate: "In this piazza named for Giovanni Andrea Cedraro, survivor of Vigliena, in the 100th year since that carnage, reminding you, O Parthenopian heroes, knights of the Ideal, the people admonish that free thought is martyrdom, but the victims of tyrrany rise again in the civilization's ages and in legend. 1899"

Now that I've read up on Google and Wikipedia, this man was a son of Castrovillari that survived the battle at Fort Vigliena in Naples. The French-backed republic, the Parthenopian Republic, was formed within the Kingdom of Naples around the same time as the French Revolution, as the idea of a republic government rather than a monarchy gained popularity among many aristocrats. Those that were for a republic had to fight the lower classes that were dedicated to the King of Naples--and this battle at Vigliena was one of those fights.

So it doesn't seem like this church would have been built when my great-great-grandfather was there, but probably the hero and the events mentioned in the plaque were well known to him.

This is a Franciscan convent or monastery. Founded in 1220-22 by Pietro Catin a companion of St. Francis of Assisi. It was transformed into a military hospital in 1809 (Napoleonic Wars), a theater in 1845, and sustained damage during the bombings of 1943.

And this plaque lauds another native son of Castrovillari, Giruseppe Pace. "...born in 1827. Was a fervent patriot and fought in the movements of 1848. Condemned to death in 1852 by the Bourbon government, then changed sentance at 30 years to imprisonment, 9 years in the bath of Procidia. Exiled in England, he could rejoin the country as soon as the age of the Risorgimento erupted. In 1860, he organized a regiment of Calabrese volunteers called the Military Legion, and in the rank of Colonel pleged to Garibaldi, led them to Capua, earning the Miltary Cross of Savoia from the Italian Parliament. Died in 1867."

The movements of 1848 were, according to Wikipedia, a general peasant uprising that sprung up all across Europe. And Garibaldi is the man revered for uniting Italy in 1861 as the nation it is today.

This plaque talks mostly about the architecture of the church, but also mentions the "suppression of convents" (or monasteries) under the French rule from 1806-1815. Several plaques mentioned this.

Does this mean that the convents, monasteries, and seminaries were re-opened in time for my great-great-grandfather to study there and meet his bride? We poked around a little longer in what seemed to be the old part of the town.

We found this plaque, dedicated to those "Children of Castrovillari" that died in the air raids in August of 1943. A few other plaques mentioned the damage sustained by the town structures due to the bombings.

It is amazing to me that my great-great-grandfather was born right in the middle of these uprisings and revolutions and wars. Who knows what it was that caused him to leave, but as beautiful as it is here, I am so glad his children took a chance on America!

We made it to our hotel, Il Tirreno, just outside of Tropea. You could see the main city from the hotel, and there was also close access to a white sandy beach. The hotel even gave us a voucher that was good for an umbrella and two chairs during the two days we were there--we could even use them after check-out!

Room @ Il Tirreno81
lunch @ Osteria La Torre Infame18.4
Bills hat8
dinner@ Tirreno27

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