This dedication was written by Vera Calistro who looked after this
website from early 1997 to 30th September 2004. Thank you for all your
hard work Vera,
Country Host for Italy
This site is dedicated to those Ancestors who thought to preserve a way of life, a culture and an ideal for those who followed. It is for those of us who choose to remember them and their way of life. To look at the qualities these people possessed. And to build a better understanding of who and where we came from.
I am a second-generation Italian America and only one half Italian ancestry. But with a full Italian heart. How can I say that? I can take you back on my father's lineage to around 1650, and I can state with pride a great many accomplishments those Pioneers of this country had. I can appreciate their struggles to find a better place. But it was more of a conquering attitude that they approached life. A will to be better than another to have more which seemed to drive them. They seemed to work strictly through their minds and not their hearts.
I live in a country that stereo types Italians as Mafioso. A small minority may have earned that name. But it over looks the majority of these people. The accomplishments that these hard working people have given this country, their home land and many others. Had it not been for the Italians persistence this country may not have existed till much later. Or that the most important ideal our constitution is based on, came from an Italian by the name of Philip Mazzei who wrote "Tutti gli uomini sono per natura egualmente libere e independenti -- all men are by nature equally free and independent" This was paraphrased by Thomas Jefferson in his quote that "all men are created equal."
I have since learned of the bitter prejudices that awaited many Italian immigrants to this country. They came in hopes of a better life. But what they found in the late 1800s and early 1900s was a country that seemed to hate them. They were the bottom of the labor force the government officials persecuted them. They were lynched and had their homes burned. Even their own church complained about them.
Many had no where to go, they had to become like the Americans in order to survive. They kept their traditions at home as best they could. Raised their children to speak and act like the Americans outside the home. But once inside, the lifestyle represented what they knew from their motherland. The food, the emotion, the respect for elders and the love of family remained the same. So the first generation Italian American received a legacy from both worlds. Unfortunately it has always been easier to blend in with the crowd so that by the second and third generations very little of the real Italian flavor was left. Especially if Grandma and Grandpa had already passed on. Those that lived in a typical Italian neighborhood tended to keep many of their Italian nuances. If they lived outside of one they assimilated into their surroundings. As did so many other persons and nationalities before them. A fact which seemed to be a total contradiction to the beliefs in there homeland.
Living through Italy's history has been an existence of one conqueror after another. Giving them an ideal of "this to shall pass". That may be how so much of their culture though influenced by so many others remained so much their own. But Italians are not without prejudices. Most have lived their lives trying to hang on to their heritage so tightly that one small town would speak a different language than the one next to it. This seemed to keep these people entirely within themselves. It also served to strengthen their pride in homelands.
I never understood the difference of why one province was better than another. Or why north was better than south, Italy was Italy. I have come a long way since then and still have a long way to go. But I can now appreciate their pride in what they are. I don't think that they are necessarily trying to put one another down. Rather the lack of understanding each other. The whole of Italy has suffered its invasions, wars, earthquakes and diseases. Just as every one of them has suffered to get by in their lives. It didn't matter if it was north, south, mainland or island. But each also has something to contribute to the whole.
The one thing that has kept these people going is romance. In the sense of enjoying to the fullest what you have. The passion to make the smallest thing great and the foresight to know it can be done. You can go to the poorest Italian farmhouse and find a meal though meager it may be, prepared as thoughtfully and carefully as if it were to be presented to a king. These are the people I have grown to know and love. Those to whom worldly objects are a matter of convenience, what really matters is your family and friends and there in lies your wealth.
No one should be ashamed of who he or she is, or where they came from. Instead they should take pride in the accomplishments of their ancestors, who gave them a chance at something better. Promote understanding, enjoy your heritage it's part of you and always will be. If another disregards you because of it, it's their loss and a great one. But remember you will also be an ancestor someday. Think of what you will hand down to your descendents.
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