Tags: Cranston, dream, famiglia, festa, festivals, Italy, Itri, love of family, Madonna della Civita, Rhode Island
This weekend we invited friends over for dinner. The house was cleaned, wood laid in the fireplace in anticipation of chilly weather, table was set with Italian linens and dishes. The house smelled of fresh baked bread. Wine sat chilling, ready to be served. Meatballs and sausage were simmering in the big pot. Olives, cheese, and a big platter of antipasto were served to hold us over until the pasta finished on the stove.
Our friends share a love of Itri with us that goes beyond simple explanations. I am not sure it is even possible to explain to anyone what it is about this town that instills the love and pride it does. A simple dinner can last for hours as we sit and chat about Itri – how it was and how it is now. Even as it catches up with the world today, Itri retains a part of its roots and beauty that makes it a special place. It is still a town where everyone walks every day. Folks sit on the benches to chat or sip espresso outside the bars at tables set on the sidewalks. It seems everyone knows everyone else by name – or at least knows who the other person is. And newcomers are welcomed after a day or two as one of their own! After all, you were seen yesterday and you are still here. They know that Itri is now part of your heart so they welcome you knowing you will always return here as if returning to your own home!
There is an enclave of transplanted Itranians in Cranston, Rhode Island who feel the same way. Every year in July they gather to pay homage to their patron saint Madonna della Civita. Friends and family all return to Cranston to celebrate the festival that lasts over several days. Everyone meets for huge picnics, family dinners, or to listen to music at the neighborhood gazebo. And the old-timers share tales of the festas held in Itri and laugh and cry as they remember and dream of returning at least once more to their home. The younger generation listen and they too dream of Itri. Even though they might never have visited Itri, they dream of the day they too finally go to Itri – some with their older generation – and others go in honor of those who dreamt but could not go themselves. So it is with those of us who now feel as if Itri is our home too – even if only in our hearts. We sit and talk of common events, places, people — and we dream for the opportunity of another trip there. And we dream of someday calling Itri home for real. So we talk, we plan, we dream. And nothing is sweeter than to share that dream with good friends!