Due Settimana in Italia
An Apolitical Travelogue
by Eric S. Piotrowski
Day Fourteen: Misfortune in Maida
We went to Maida to try and find traces of Diane's ancestors, who came from the tiny village. The trip was actually quite pleasant, but we didn't have much luck with our actual mission.
We woke up at nine and caught a buffet-style breakfast in the hotel. Mmm, croissant. We then asked the clerk at the front desk about getting to Maida. He apologized that there was no bus (as if it were his fault), and arranged a 60-Euro round-trip taxi ride.
The driver was a very nice older guy who spoke no English, but communicated cheerfully in Italian and with many hand gestures while playing a CD of traditional songs from the region. (He also sang along.) It was only 15-20 minutes to Maida, and we drove around for another few, looking for a church that was open. (Diane figured our best bet was to seek wedding or baptismal records.) We finally found one, and the driver indicated he'd pick us up at 3:00.
Inside the church a very nice Catholic place, one of four in the town we found a nun arranging flowers. Diane tried to explain in Italish why we were there and if she knew of records which might help us. The nun responded very quickly and in no depth that the files were all centralized in another town. That was that.
So we wandered around, took some pictures, bought and ate some crackers 'n' cheese, and wandered some more. Maida is a very picturesque town in the hills, and the people were very nice. (One lady in the cell phone store even called the hotel for us, so we could arrange an earlier pickup time.) I took a series of pictures to make a panorama of the countryside.
Still, it was disappointing to make no verified personal contact with Diane's past. On the other hand, we did find a war monument with her family's last name featured several times. We also saw some posters advertising community events in town.
On the return trip, Cheerful Taxi Man pointed out the different agricultural products grown in the region. Back in the room, we read and napped, then walked around a bit. There was a remarkable number of Chinese import clothing shops for such a remote town. We went into a food market and bought a small jar of tomatoes.
We returned to the hotel and read some more before dinner. I had a very tasty minestrone soup and spaghetti marinara (not the alla vongole described on the menu). When dessert time came, I asked about the chocolate tart on the menu, but the waiter indicated it was "all done" and offered us fruit. Fruit!? We're Americans! Fruit goes in the trash, or on cereal. It's not dessert. We had one unripe peach each.
We caught some of Wallace & Gromit - La maledizione del coniglio mannaro in Italian. Then we slept.