Ten years ago I was with my father at his home in Casoli, Italy. When he asked me to visit him there I readily said yes. Casoli is in the Province of Chieti in the region of Abruzzo.
My dad fell in love with Italy as it is part of our heritage. His mother’s family was from Naples and we have family from Sicily as well. What made him decide to actually buy a home there, I do not know exactly. But I’m glad he did.
Flying to Italy was no easy task for me as the thought of flying over water was terrifying. Thankfully, the flight was overnight. I tried not to think of the depth of darkness below me. I flew into Rome in the morning hours where Dad was waiting for me. We then drove about three hours to the east coast through the most beautiful Italian countryside.
For two and a half weeks I called Casoli my home. The village is very very old but so gorgeous. Window boxes of flowers and narrow, cobblestone streets welcomed me to this quaint little village.
Dad’s home is located at the very top of the mountain next to the Castello Masciantonio, a Renaissance castle. It is now a museum and Catholic Church. From my dad’s terrace, on a clear day you can see the Adriatic Sea about 15 miles away. Behind the castle is the snow-capped Majella mountain which I’ve heard, provides water to the village.
My bedroom window had only black metal bars. No glass or screen. There were wooden shutters to keep out the rain, snow, and cold. We were up high where the swallows flew. On my first afternoon there, I unpacked my belongings and then sat at the window.
I looked out over the roofs and cobblestone streets in the village below me. I could see hills and valleys lined with olive groves in the distance. Then I heard music. Beautiful music. A man was singing a most beautiful Italian song. Even though I believe it was a CD that someone was playing somewhere down below, it was so touching that I could have sat there forever, just listening. It filled the cobblestone alleys and wafted up to my window. It was peaceful, soothing, and ever-so romantic.
The village was clean and adorned with colorful flowers everywhere. The aroma of coffee, breads, and pizza filled the streets and alleys.
I visited a green house and found a florist as I walked around the village. That was interesting because at the time I worked for a florist.
In the evenings I observed small groups of daddies pushing strollers throughout the village. I found that to be a great indication of their dedication to family life. I was also intrigued by the old, unique doors that were everywhere. I have quite a picture collection of Italian doors.
Italians love to celebrate. And boy, they seem to find every reason to. I was able to observe a couple of fun events while there. The flower festival is quite a big deal. Everyone pitches in to lay flowers and colored sand in unique designs down the middle of the street from the Catholic church in the castle to the Catholic church at the bottom of the village. They start early in the morning and work all day to create this masterpiece. The “finale” is when the priest walks through the flowered path down to the church at the bottom. Many festivals are related to Catholicism but they all are immersed in color, such as with flowers and bright, colorful clothing.
I became friends with several of my father’s friends. Enio was my favorite. He has since passed away. He lived in Canada for a time in his life so I could communicate with him fairly well.
He took me on a tour through his ancient family wood shop. There he showed me a work bench that his family has used for 300 years. They made caskets, and I can’t remember what all else, but they eventually also owned the only hearse company in the village as well. Enio was such a pleasant man. I had always hoped to see him again. It just goes to show you that every minute counts in this life. I wish I had another minute with him. He became like family to me.
Of course, every town, city, and village has a unique person who stands out from the rest. Casoli has Melvis. I am not sure of his Italian name, but he combined it with Elvis. And that’s who he portrays.
From shoemakers, to bread bakers, to market owners, to jewelers, Casoli has just about everything. And most businesses close at noon only to reopen at 4:00 to complete the workday.
My dad and I drove to Pesaro on the Adriatic Sea one sunny day. It was a remarkable day. Even with my fear of water, I’d love to take a boat on a journey across the sea to Croatia and back again.
Throughout the cities and villages we visited were remnants of ancient life, left alone, and modern life built up in and around those structures. We saw the architectural beauty of old Catholic Churches with their ancient artifacts. Flowers of all kinds brightened every street. It was a lot to take in and I tried to absorb it all.
This was an adventure I shared with my dad. It wasn’t always easy being with there with him as we struggled with our relationship even there, but the adventure in Casoli was a once-in-a-lifetime dream. I definitely felt I experienced Italy being in a small village compared to a large touristy city…like Rome.
When it was nearing time to fly back to the states we spent my last three days in Rome. I can honestly say I did not like Rome on the first day. Dad’s wife took me to historical places (which is basically everywhere you look) and I began to love the city.
A highlight was seeing the Trevi Fountain, making wishes, and throwing coins back over me into the pool of water. Wishes and coins that were prepared in advance with the help of my adopted brother, Bruce. I kept them in a little draw-string bag. He helped to make this moment of wishes…magical.
And then there was Coliseum which brought tears to my eyes for all the Christian lives that ended there.
I’d like to believe there’s a possibility that this world will heal and it will become welcoming once again. I’d love to explore more of Italy.
Thanks for sharing a few of my memories of Italy and the time I had with my dad. So grateful he invited me to go. ♥️