“Beati sono coloro che hanno un paese a cui tornare…” (Anonimo)

“Happy are those who have a village to return to…” (Unknown)

 

“Filignano has its origins before the year 1,000 of the Christian age; we find its name in a document of 962 as registered in “Cronica Volturnense”, with the wording ‘Fundiliano’, undoubtedly this first name, changed later, in the Middle Ages, to ‘Fondemano’ then ending with the present name. The Township does not have a coat of arms. As compensation (and an unparalleled one!), it enjoys the fame of the outstanding beauty of its women, and we want to highlight this trait to make reparation for the involuntary omission in the first volume (page 361 rightfully reprimanded us).”

from lL Molise dalle origini ai nostri giorni – Dott. Giambattista Masciotta (Volume 3 page183) Arti Grafiche E.Di Mauro 1952

© translation copyright Patrizia Verrecchia. All rights reserved.

 

Later Filignano, without giving up the beauty of its women, equipped itself with a coat of arms.

You can now find information, photos and historical records quite easily. For centuries, it was one of many villages in the region of Molise, known only to those who lived there or had a business there for some remote reason.

I was seven or eight years old when they were building the road to the hamlet of Lagoni where my father was born, and they were also bringing to the homestead electricity and water. Before 1960, the only way to arrive at my grandparents’ home was to hike the steep hill for a couple of kilometres on a narrow track on the side of the mountain. The only alternative was to find a good man that would lend you his donkeys. Filignano, the municipality, wasn’t easy to reach either before they built the motorway from the north to the south of Italy. The coaches from Rome or Naples had to jolt up and down the Casilina, a road traced centuries before. The motorway was called Autostrada del Sole. The Highway of the Sun.

Filignano has 12 settlements spread over a 15 km ray. Before cars and roads, the different hamlets had learnt to survive independently after facing natural and human disasters for hundreds of years. People did not mingle. Still today, you can recognize to which settlements people belong by their surnames. Another thing that has always struck me, considering the distances between one group of houses and the other, is that my mother from Filignano centre, and my father from Lagoni settlement, spoke different dialects, similar but not the same.

When the Immigration doctors checked my father, and they saw a scar he had on his leg, they asked him where he came from, and after hearing the answer, they laughed, “Ohh! The Pakistan of Europe.”

What had been without change for hundreds of years started changing fast after World War II. The war did not miss this high up in the mountains village. Filignano happened to lay on the infamous Gustav Line and, unfortunately, has a lot of war stories to tell.

I was lucky enough to be born after the war; therefore, my wartime story is a lovely heartwarming tale. I was spending my summer holiday in Lagoni with my children. I think it was the end of the 70s, and one day, the neighbours started calling me from the main street that was also a meeting point at the bottom of the almost vertical alley where ancestors built my tiny, 200-hundred-year-old, holiday house.

Patricia! Come! Quick! There are some people here, and they don’t speak Italian.”

I rush down and see a family, clearly not Italian, standing near their car. I ask them if they need help. They are from the United States. After I had introduced myself, the man smiling said:

“Sorry to disturb you all.” In a few minutes, all the fifty-one inhabitants of the village had gathered around us

“I’ve come back to Italy from The States to show my wife and my family where I fought during World War II.” He turned to his family with the most tender look” then went on:

“Up that lane,” and he pointed to the alley I had just come from. “There was a house with a carved stone fireplace in the kitchen, standing on the left wall. Do you know it? Is it still there?

 

Yes,” I answered, not hiding my surprise. “It is still there. I think you are describing my kitchen fireplace. Want to come and see?”

We all moved up the alley. I opened the door and the half door, and we were in the kitchen. The man’s eyes suddenly were soaked with tears.

He looked to his wife and said,

“You see that fireplace? It was Christmas Day 1942, and there were 24 American soldiers around that fireplace trying to warm up a bit. And I was one of them.”

That fireplace is still there. I haven’t restored it, and I never will.

 

© Photo copyright Patrizia Verrecchia. All rights reserved.

 

 

from Eugenio Verrecchia Archive

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