It’s such a lovely surprise to find out that after reading my books, some of you have sought out Fossa to see it for yourselves! And what a thrill to be sent these photos by Mel of her parents, Doris and Domenico, who were recently among a group guided by local, Edmondo, and given a tour of Fossa and the places I wrote about. Thank you to all of you! xx I never dreamed of seeing my books in Fossa or held up outside the door of my family’s house there. Can you imagine what Nonno Anni would’ve thought?! I can almost see him shaking his head and half-smiling in disbelief and happiness, his eyes a little bit wet.
It was in 1996 that I stood outside this same doorway for the first time, feeling so many emotions amid a chip on my shoulder and yet that tugging sense of ‘coming home’ to a place I’d never been before. And it was at the kitchen table inside that I began writing what would become Mezza Italiana and my later books over several visits. I had no clue then that what I wrote might be published one day, or that in 2009 an earthquake would hit, rendering the house and most of the town so damaged as to be uninhabitable. (As you can see, red scaffolding remains for now outside my family’s house.)
Fossa currently is a ghost town that requires much care and it is quite a moving experience to visit, while still beautiful and also fascinating in its mystical and lively past. I keep holding hope that its centuries of history, art, life and beauty on Monte Circolo will prevail and in future the town will once more surge with people, animals, vespas, church bells, music and wonderful cooking aromas. Heartfelt thanks to Doris and Domenico and all those who’ve sought out Fossa with respect and interest and again, thank you to all of you who’ve embraced these books so.
Oh, and Mel also wrote to me that her parents would’ve held Joe’s Fruit Shop and Milk Bar in the photos as well but her aunt had it and was busy reading it. That Joe’s is being read all these years on is just so terrific to hear. For Nonno Anni who, in 1939, aged 15 walked down that cobblestoned road carrying one suitcase on his way to the other side of the world, having to leave Fossa that he loved so much, not knowing if he’d ever return, I’m truly grateful that this story lives on more than 80 years later. For him and for all those who’ve taken that same, sometimes rough, brave journey of migrating and made the best they could of it. Grazie mille and auguri. Zoë xx