Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Dances with Luigi

This blog sometimes turns into a book review corner. But I wanted to share with my fellow Italiophiles a book I am presently reading.

Somewhere, I think it was the Slow Travel board, the reference to a book, Dances with Luigi, prompted me to catalog this title in my mind. I am now in the middle of this wonderfully enlightening book. Enlightening because it articulates a clearer understanding of how *maybe WHY would be a better description* I was raised in a first-generation Italian family.

Dances with Luigi was written by Paul Paolicelli, a news reporter turned author, who travels back to his ancestral roots. Although much of his wonderfully eloquent descriptions of Rome weave throughout the book, his travels through southern Italy are more poignant.

I find it refreshing to see an American's point of view evolve into an appreciation and understanding of how past political events fashioned the fabric of Italian families. And was equally surprised to find answers to trivial questions I had in my mind while traveling Italy: Crossroads were considered spiritual places in ancient Rome - one reason for decorating make-shift altars and shrines at intersections in Italy today. Upon his request, Raphael was buried in the walls of the Pantheon. Vittorio Emanuele II is also there.

I am particularly enjoying the juxtaposition Paolicelli places with the Italy of long ago and an American's view of Italy, the traditions of Italy both religiously and culturally, and the genteelness of the Italian people.

I gleaned an unspoken message from Paolicelli - the urgency and satisfaction of learning one's history. I never knew my grandfathers and both grandmothers died when I was still in single digits. Later in life I realized I had lost not only endeared family members but also a reservoir of vibrant family history and the culture of a small hilltop town in southern Italy in the late 1800s.

The author writes in describing Rome: "Several writers have compared Rome to a beautiful and intriguing woman who reveals little of herself to a stranger. One needs to take time and effort to get to know her/it." Love it!

The two photos are my paternal and maternal grandmothers.


barb cabot said...

Thank you for this post. I will get this book for my family. I love the photos you have posted. Looks like my husbands family.

Trekcapri said...

Hi M, this book sounds so interesting. Thank you so much for your review. Love his quote about Rome. Thank you so much for sharing your family photos of your two grandmothers.

Annie said...

Sorry if this is a duplicate computer just hiccupped.

Thanks for the review - I'll add this to my list. Love books like this. Have you read "My Cousin the Saint"? American of Italian origins who goes to Southern Italy to meet his family and research his cousin, a 20th c. priest who became a saint. Fascinating story!

flygirl said...

Hope y'all enjoy it as much as I am. K, thanks for the recommendation. I'll check it out.

sandrac said...

This sounds like such an interesting book, and a different perspective on Italy. Thanks for the recommendation!