MY STEPFATHER'S anxiety over our lack of money, mother's tears, the dread that we might be rejected, all sent my thoughts back to the native land where we had joined the great caravan of immigration and, boy though I was, I lived over again all the events which had been so largely responsible for our departure.
The Abruzzi was really all I knew of Italy, for it was in the Abruzzi that we had lived, within the natural wall of jagged hills and towering mountains which, due east of Rome, shuts in that rugged land. The Abruzzi is near Rome in mileage, but far distant in all else. There the Apennines rise range upon range, shutting off one high-pitched plain from another, and making strangers of those who inhabit the low-slung valleys and clinging towns and villages.
This wild land of the Abruzzi gave to Italy and the world D'Annunzio, Croce, the Rossettis, De Virgilii, the ancient Ovid and a host of other immortals. Here singers and improvisatori still are heard, shepherds still tend their flocks; witches still practice their magic. No longer do religion and brigandage thrive side by side, but traditions of freedom and courage and romance are stronger here, perhaps, than elsewhere in Italy. Beneath the snow-capped peaks flowers thrive in cloistered gardens which adorn the sheltered enchanting valleys.
That was the Italy I knew and loved, for I was born in the medieval village of Capestrano, midway between Aquila and Sulmona.