Isca sull’Ionio, Calabria, Italy: My Great-Grandmother’s Village

Last week, my grandmother’s first cousin, Domenica (but don’t call her that–she goes by Marie) from America and her childhood friend, Laura, came to visit me. Both of their mothers, as well as my grandmother’s mother Concetta, were born in Isca sull’Ionio, or Isca on the Ionian Sea, which is the village next to mine.

Meet Concetta via her 1941 US citizenship certificate:

Great-grandmother's US Citizenship Certificate

To explain a bit, my great-great-grandfather (Concetta’s father) was born in the village I now live in, and he married a woman from Isca, and that’s where they had their children. So my roots, as well as those of my Marie are actually from both villages. Laura’s family is all from Isca.

Isca sull'Ionio, Calabria, Italy

The connection between this tiny village on the Ionian coast and my area back home in Pennsylvania is extremely strong; indeed, most of the Italian (Calabrian) families in and around my hometown come from this village and share names like Varano, Scicchitano, Bressi, Feudale, Mirarchi, and Nestico (here, it’s NesticΓ², accent on the last syllable).

One of my most vivid memories of the first time I visited here was my jaw continually dropping at just how many last names I saw on signs and businesses that were so very familiar to me–even the geographical position of Isca is very much like our towns nestled into the Appalachian Mountains.

Isca sull'Ionio, Calabria, Italy

You can read more about Isca’s history and links in the United States at, made by a friend of mine that I met via the Internet quite a few years ago. He ended up connecting me with a woman originally from Isca who now lives in South Philly (I also lived in Philly at the time); it turns out that she had also lived up in my area of Pennsylvania…and, as we discovered once we got talking, had even worked with my grandmother in a sewing factory in the 1960s or 70s.

Talk about a small world, huh?

Alida gave me one of the best quotes ever during an email exchange four years ago, and I hope she doesn’t mind my sharing it here:

When I was a little girl, before I knew of the rotation of the earth, I really believed that those pretty mountains ate the sun and by a miracle God would send it back the following day.

Don’t you just love Italians?

A few years ago, Alida, her family, my mom and I went to the San Marziale festival, organized by Iscatani, in South Philly together.

Festa di San Marziale, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

Now back to our visit to Isca with my cousin. Through genealogical research, I was able to pinpoint the street, although not the exact house, of our family. It’s called Via Borgo, and here’s Marie in front of the entrance to the smallest “street” I’ve ever seen in my life:

Via Borgo, Isca sull'Ionio, Calabria, Italy

Here’s a look down said street:

Via Borgo, Isca sull'Ionio, Calabria, Italy

As you can see, there’s actually a bit of reconstruction going on, but Isca Superiore is still mostly emptied out, even more so than my village; in fact, every time we asked about someone who had formerly lived up there, we were directed to the Marina village. Isca was particularly hard hit by an earthquake in 1947, so that was the impetus for many to get off the hill.

We didn’t have too much time to walk around Isca, but here are some old scanned photos of mine from a previous visit:

Piazza di Isca sull'Ionio, Calabria, Italy
Isca sull'Ionio, Calabria, Italy
Isca sull'Ionio, Calabria, Italy

Then we went back to P’s parents’ house in Badolato Marina and enjoyed a lovely lunch with them. Here are P’s father Salvatore, P’s mom Caterina, Marie (eyes closed, sorry–told her to leave on her sunglasses!), and Laura.

Badolato Marina, Calabria, ItalyMarie had a great time trying to teach P’s dad some English words–much laughter ensued as “I looooooove you” repeatedly echoed throughout the Marina. And since I never tire of hearing old family stories, this provided yet another opportunity for Marie to share what she remembers of her grandparents–my great-great-grandparents–and others long gone.

P’s mom must’ve been feeling a bit nostalgic too because she broke out her old photos; I had never seen a baby picture of P before, so that was extra special. What a cutie! You may or may not see said photos scanned here at some point. Good thing he doesn’t read the blog, eh?

So after quite a day full of emotion, laughter, great food, and fun, Marie, Laura and I headed back up the mountain to Badolato. As they rested, I got to thinking, as I’m wont to do.


I have always thought of Isca as representing the feminine side of my Italian family, as my great-grandmother and great-great-grandmother were born there–who knows how far back that goes, but I’d sure like to find out. Even the town’s name ends in “a” denoting the feminine. I’ve always had a stronger connection with the women in my family, and so I would’ve guessed that Isca was the place for me if I were going to settle in Calabria.

But there’s so much more to me than that feminine side, and I’d say I’m pretty balanced in my traditionally masculine and feminine influences. I’m not a girly-girl by any means, and you couldn’t tear me away from a football, baseball, or basketball game in America if you tried. I can also be awfully aggressive when I want/need to be.

Interesting, then, that it’s my great-great-grandfather who was born in Badolato (note that it ends in an “o” denoting masculine) and relocated to Isca for his wife; I, on the other hand, was first drawn to Isca (my family had never heard of Badolato until I found citizenship records), but then the pull to Badolato was so strong that I ended up staying here, in the masculine village, if you will.

And here I found my P.

Now I struggle to balance those masculine and feminine influences once again–this time in a culture with fairly distinct gender roles. Southern Italy isn’t what you’d call modernized in its ideas about what a woman and a man should do. Lucky for me that I’ve found a guy who loves that I work and that I actually *want* to go hunting for mushrooms in the mountains, etc., with the boys–and he also happens to be a great cook who occasionally surprises me with his housekeeping abilities.

It’s not always easy, of course, but I’m loving the challenge.

59 Beans of Wisdom to “Isca sull’Ionio, Calabria, Italy: My Great-Grandmother’s Village”
  1. Maria

    Michelle that was an awesome story!!! I laughed and also had a moment of nostalgia while reading about the old villages. I am strongly tied to my parents village, Maida, and I have tons of family there still, so every time I go back I learn more and more about my family! Great job, I really enjoyed this one! πŸ™‚

  2. Karen

    What a wonderful glimpse into what pulled you to your particular village – I’ve always wondered about the exact family connections. Isn’t it funny, too, how things influence us when we don’t even realize it and how that ends up having a profound affect on our lives?

  3. Enza

    What a wonderful glimpse into your family history and wow i totally missed the picture of P back in July so it was great to check out the link and P too! What a handsome man! The pictures are awesome. I swear i have one of those hanging in my bedroom!

  4. jennifer

    Beautiful, evocative writing. And I’m glad you’re loving the challenge, because I know it is.

  5. Taffiny

    Yeah I should comment on the rest of the post, but

    I hadn’t seen P before Oh la la. He is very attractive. So taken am I, that now I am left with no other thoughts.

    (though I do wish I hadn’t said oh la la la, because Teena Marie has started singing in my head and wont stop)

  6. JerseyDave

    Hi Michelle,
    It was great to hear from you. Thanks, for your link to my website about your family’s other Home Town, Isca Sullo Ionio. I loved your stories about Isca. Time flies, it seems like just yesterday, we met on the net and I introduced you to Alida and our Festival back in Philly. We hope to visit you next summer in Badolato. I saw your photo of the street Via Borgo, that is the street my Fatherinlaw still lives on today, that was my wifes grandfathers house. You posted a photo of Concetta, my wife said Concetta is related to her friend, that lives in Isca, so my wifes friend would be your 3rd cousin. Rosa will call her friend in Isca. Maybe she can tell us the exact address you are looking for on Via Borgo. Have you been to City Hall in Isca. Their Genealogical Records date back to about 1750, for birth, baptism, marriage and death records. They may also have the address. I love your site here. Great stories and posts from everyone. See you soon. Dave.

  7. sognatrice

    Maria, glad you enjoyed, and I do hope to meet up with you the next time you’re down this way–Maida isn’t *too* far away you know πŸ™‚

    Karen, glad you enjoyed it! Whenever I think about how I ended up here, it is truly amazing. So many things, tidbits from childhood on up, just wow, you know?

    Enza, well then I’m glad I linked to the P post–but I hope you don’t have a pic of *him* hanging in your bedroom–hah! I had to read that one twice πŸ˜‰

    Jennifer, thanks; much appreciated from someone that I know knows πŸ˜‰

    Taffiny, I hope you get that song out of your head, and then come over to mine and remove it.

    Dave, I should’ve known you’d show up with some wonderful further information! I can’t believe that’s your wife’s grandfather’s house and that you’ve found my third cousin. Amazing! Alida’s sister did some research for me a few years ago (found some birth and marriage certificates–yeah! Those are the ones that just listed “Via Borgo” no house number), but I really kind of dropped the whole genealogy thing once I got here. Not sure why as now everything is really quite accessible. I did go to the church here in Badolato last week and searched through some old baptismal records, but came up short πŸ™ I have to go back before Don Vincenzo gets bored with the whole thing πŸ˜‰

    I really do have to devote some more time to this again…so interesting and so fun when you find stuff!

    Thanks so much for stopping by–can’t wait to see you, Rosa, and the bambini πŸ™‚

  8. Shelley - At Home in Rome

    This post really did make me think about what a small world it is! It’s really wonderful that after so many generations, you have gone back to live where your family came from. Italy has a strange way of doing that to people… I don’t even have any Italian ancestry but still I felt drawn to the place!

  9. The (Mis)Adventures of a Single City Chick

    Such a great post, Michelle! When I was in Italy many years ago, I never made it to the area where my family is from — Lonate Pozzola (sp?). But, both sets of my dad’s grandparents came over from there (surnames Arbini and Aliverti). Many of the Arbinis came to the U.S., while some Alivertis did, but more of them went to Argentina for some reason. At any rate, I can’t wait until I can return some day and search out their hometown. I got as close as Milan, but not further out to their town. πŸ™ That’s so wonderful that you were able to bring some of your heritage full circle. πŸ™‚


  10. Kerith Collins

    Your village is fantastic looking…we can trace my hubby’s grandfather coming over to Ellis Island when he was 5 and even see his mother and father’s signatures on the registration book from 1921. It makes me wanna start a blog about germans (me) and swedes (him)…

  11. diana

    I’m so glad I found your blog TOO. I love your stories, your writing style, all of it. And ok I lived in Philly too. I will keep reading now that I am hooked…. I’m linking your blog to mine tomorrow morning when I wake up and can focus again.

  12. Vesper

    What a lovely post, with superb pictures. Thank you for sharing this part of your family story with us. I also like the certificate of citizenship – you could imagine a whole story from it.
    Mmmm… Very good looking, your P! Very Italian…

  13. Frances

    When my grandmother passed away I could not find where she kept the addresses of her family in Sorrento. She and my grandfather were both from the Amalfi.
    You’ve inspired me to scan some old photos of my family for my own blog.
    I have grandma’s US Citizenship certificate too.
    Sending bloglove,

  14. Madelyne

    How fantastic to be able to trace back where your family all came from & lived, & that these places have a pull on you too.

  15. Maryann

    I enjoy reading your site. This post was neat. I liked the street that looks like an alley.

  16. Enza

    UGH!!! Sorry! Sometimes my grammar sucks!! No i definitely don’t have a picture of P hanging on my wall, although….nah only kidding. I was talking about the other photos u posted!

  17. Jen

    You are such a gem. Your talent for family history and photography and weaving it all together is truly special. I am so impressed by your creativity and ability to write.

  18. Waiting for Zufan!

    Great photos, and I love your site! I need to add you to my little blogroll… Thanks for the visit and the great comments the other day!

    I NEED to go to Italy someday!!

  19. a blog of everyday delights

    Thanks! I love your blog. It makes Italy seem so much closer. I spent a summer in Salerno and fell so much in love with the city that there isn’t a day I don’t miss it. Thanks for sharing yoru life with us.

  20. Italiana Americana

    thats funny i live 15 mins outside philly and often go to the italian market even if it isnt quite what it used to be…my mom grew up there but we are abruzzese πŸ™‚ small world

  21. grace

    I love the way the houses are lined up like that…looks like crayola from far. Great story and awesome pics! I terribly need to visit Italy in the future!

  22. sognatrice

    Shelley, I’ve now gotten an email from someone who grew up in the same town, knows my grandmother, and worked with my mother. Small world is right πŸ™‚

    Christina, you’ll get there! For me it was an amazing experiences, and I’m sure it will be for you too πŸ™‚

    Kerith, oh I love family histories–be sure to send me the link if you start that blog!

    Diana, thanks! I look forward to getting to know you better πŸ™‚

    Vesper, oh, the citizenship certificate holds its own stories to be sure–and those are just the real ones. Imagine all the creative turns we could take with it! Thanks for the compliment on P, and the Michelle? That’s my name. I started going by Sognatrice (dreamer in Italian) when I first started, but my real name came out pretty quickly…so whatever you feel comfortable with πŸ˜‰

    Frances, ooh, do scan! I need to scan many more photos, if only to keep them stored on CDs/the computer, but I do hope you’ll share some on the blog. I love old photos and the stories that go with them!

    Madelyne, thanks, and thanks for commenting!

    Maryann, it’s funny that the street in front of my current house isn’t very much wider–but I’m on a corner, so it doesn’t feel so confining πŸ˜‰

    Enza, no it wasn’t your fault at all! I have a bad habit of reading too quickly and confusing myself. Anyway, it was a good laugh, so no need to apologize!

    Jen, aw thanks…what a lovely comment πŸ™‚

    Waiting, I do hope you make it here someday, but you should warn the little one…I’m a squeezer πŸ˜‰

    Everyday Delights, why thank you–and thanks for sharing your tribute to Salerno. Wonderful!

    Italiana, lucky you! Have a go at Fante’s, DiBruno’s, D’Angelo’s, and of course Anthony’s Coffee House for me please.

    Grace, I love the Crayola comment! So true! Glad you enjoyed, and yes, come on over πŸ™‚

  23. a far away friend

    Michelle, your writing is so impressive. Sometimes, I feel like I’m reading a book; and I just finished a chapter, and can’t wait to turn the page and start a new one. I
    It’s funny the way so much from Southern Italy is linked to PA. Thanks for mentioning my family name. I remembered when you told me about Alida, couldn’t believe we were even “tied” together with knowing her.
    Guess this big big world isn’t so big after all.

  24. sognatrice

    Friend, aw thanks πŸ™‚ And if I had even a bit of a remaining doubt as to which far away friend you are, I’m now certain! Crazy world, isn’t it?

  25. Poppy Fields

    I love stories about families. Your story has come “round a great circle!

  26. sognatrice

    Meredith, I love family stories too; thanks for reading mine πŸ™‚

  27. Wanderlust Scarlett

    I LOVED that, and the photos are great. I especially love Maria’s citizenship paper – THAT was so cool!!!

    Ate up every bit of this from the first word to the last crumb…
    Your writing is as good as your cooking looks.

    Thanks for sharing!

    Scarlett & Viaggiatore

  28. sognatrice

    Scarlett, glad you enjoyed, and I hope you’re enjoying other crumbs on this special day πŸ˜‰

  29. witnessing am i

    I don’t think I can explain why — or perhaps I can — but this is my favorite post of all time.

    Every word, every image, beautiful.

  30. sognatrice

    David, wow. You’ve left me wordless (almost). All I can say is grazie mille for reading and taking the time to write such wonderful thoughts in the comments–where they become treasures.

  31. Blame It on Paris

    I love the connections. It’s fascinating to think about the Italy to America to Italy story that you are carrying on.

  32. sognatrice

    Thanks Laura; it’s definitely a unique opportunity πŸ™‚

  33. nonfaciabruta

    Loved the article on Isca. I will be there sometime this year (taking a discovery trip to Isca, the family’s homeland with my cousin) We are both from Kulpmont, Pa. and the need to discover my roots has been pulling me for a few years now. I’m reading a book right now called “Dances with Luigi”. I highly recommend it. It’s about the same thing I’m going through right now. The need to understand the original family ties and the country. Keep up the good work on the blog. I’ll tell your brother Bernie and Nancy I was talking to you when I see them.

  34. sognatrice

    *Nonfaciabruta, feel free to email me (address on sidebar) if you’d like to talk personally! Glad to hear that more and more of us from the Coal Region are coming back here–you’re going to love it πŸ™‚

  35. Sam

    Hi sognatrice!
    I came across your blog by chance and I Enjoyed reading the different comments. I was born in Isca and emigrated to Canada at the age of 10 with my family. I recognized many of the names mentioned in your blog for example Alida is my cousin. and remember the places in your photos. I was back only once in 1972. and am sure a lot has changed and a lot has remained the same. Hope to be back there some day soon.
    take care

    Hi Sam! And welcome! Thanks so much for reading and commenting πŸ™‚

  36. alberto

    Hi. Great reading! My parents came to Montreal Canada in the 60s…My mom was born on Via Borgo way back in the 30s!!!! I’ve been there several times to visit family. Great place and wonderful times.

    Alberto Mirarchi

    Hi Alberto, great to see you here! Another family from Via Borgo…soon I’ll know them all I think πŸ˜‰

  37. Felicita

    sono nata e cresciuta ad Isca, ma ora vivo a Milano. Mi fa piacere che ti piace il paese e le tue origini. Conosco un ragazzo che ti ha scritto. I cognomi che scrivi sono molto conosciuti, e vedere le tue foto; mi hanno fatto ritornare per un attimo in paese. Sono tutti posti dove sono stata, almeno un migliaio di volte.
    Ho alcuni parenti a Shamokin, ed altri a Toronto e Montreal.
    Ora che ho trovato questo sito, qualche volta lo rivisiterΓ² con piacere.

    Ciao Felicita, benvenuta! Mi ha fatto molto piacere di vedere il tuo commento stamattina. Ti devo dire che i miei parenti sono arrivati a Shamokin da Isca–adesso tutti stanno in un paese lΓ¬ vicino. Infatti scrivo spesso con un compagno di scuola che vive ancora lΓ¬…il suo cognome Γ¨ Scicchitano di Isca…forse siete parenti? Grazie per la visita!

  38. Felicita

    Sai, ad Isca ci conosciamo tutti. E’ un piccolo paese ma una grande famiglia. Sicuramente conoscerΓ² la persona, che va Scicchitano. In fondo, sicuramente, saremo parenti, anche se lontani.
    Sono molto contenta della tua risposta, sei stata molto tempestiva. Se hai bisogno di sapere ulteriori informazioni del paese; sarΓ² disponibile ad aiutarti.
    Ciao ed alla prossima

    Grazie Felicita! E’ un paese bellissimo con cittadini bellissimi πŸ™‚

  39. Liz

    I was searching for historic information about the region of Calabria and came about your site. I’m a Mirarchi, and my great grandparents settled in Kulpmont, PA.
    This makes me want to visit Isca even more!

    Come on over Liz…lots of Mirarchis for you to find! My family is from the Kulpmont area as well πŸ™‚

  40. Rick

    Hi Liz,
    My cousins are Mirarchi’s from Kulpmont. Orlando, Aldo, and Gloria. They are children of my cousin Pauline, whose mother was Teresa Mannello.

    Hey Rick! I’m sure the older generation in my family knows them πŸ™‚

  41. David Carmosino

    I can relate to a lot of this! The only relatives that I have in Italy (that I know of) is my grandmother’s first cousin and his family. They are from a small town near Capua called Camigliano in Campania. I love reading about your heritage in Calabria due to my own roots in Southern Italia! I hope I land a job in the South somewhere soon!

    I hope you do too, David!

  42. Jordan

    This is incredible! I have been trying to figure out where my Feudale side of the family hailed from, we knew my great grandfather Antonio Feudale(we called him Popu) was from Isca, so I started to do some research and was so happy to come across your sight! He too moved to the Kulpmont area, my grandparents Samuel Feudale and Bernadette lived in Shamokin then, now they and most of my relatives live in York, PA. Thank you for such a lovely story and sharing it, now more than ever I would love to return to my great graandpas old stomping grounds! Happy travels to all:)

    Jordan, you might be interested to know that PapΓΉ is the *old* dialect word for grandfather…they really don’t use it anymore unless they’re referring to PapΓΉ meu (my grandfather), but it *is* what my grandmother called her grandfather too πŸ™‚ I’m actually in Kulpmont right now as I type this…visiting family for the holidays πŸ™‚ Thanks for stopping by, and if you head toward Isca, let me know!

  43. Paul Tomcavage

    I was doing a family history project for school and my Aunt sent me a family tree saying that my Greatgrand Mother came over from Isca Sullo Ionio in 1898. When I saw this site I was amazed by how small the world is. My family also ended up in PA. We now live in Mt. Carmel. How weird is that!?!?

    Small world indeed! I graduated from MCA πŸ™‚

  44. Ernesto

    Can’t get enough about family history!!! My grandfather R Miriello is also from Isca and in two weeks my daughter will be travelling with a group to visit parts of Italy and Greece, so I was searching for the homestead and found your Blog. Loved reading everything and remembering my days as a kid in Kulpmont when my Grandpa would outline the shape of Italy with his finger on the side of his shed and explain to me where he lived. I was about 6 yrs old but remember it like it was yesterday. One of his legacies to me is the art of making homemade sopressatta – which i continue to do every year!

    Awesome, Ernesto! If you get back this way, be sure to be in touch πŸ™‚

  45. Renee Sicchitano

    Thanks so much for posting this information. My great-grandfather was named Antonio Scicchitano and came to Shamokin from Isca. He then moved to Bentleyville, Pa. I’m in the process of tracing him for an upcoming trip I have planned to Italy. Love the pictures- it makes me want to come there even more.

    Hi Renee, lots of Scicchitanos in the Shamokin and Isca areas; hope you enjoy your visit!

  46. Dave procopio

    What a great story, and beautiful place. My grand parents came from this area and settled in the Atlas/Mt. Carmel, PA region. I have always been a little separated from the family history by years, and miles, but I hope to someday visit Isca.

    michelle Reply:

    Hope you get to visit, too, Dave — I’m related to Procopios as well πŸ™‚

  47. David Varano


    I enjoyed reading about the village where my grandfather’s family lived for many generations. My grandfather, Rudolph Varano, raised his family in Mount Carmel, PA, however he had numerous relatives in Shamokin, Kulpmont, and Jersey City. I grew up in Mount Carmel as well.
    With all good wishes,
    Dave Varano

    michelle Reply:

    Thanks for stopping by, Dave; one of my best friends is a Varano from Kulpmont πŸ™‚

  48. Bruno Mirarchi (Jenkintown pa.)

    Dear Michelle,
    sono arrivato a questo sito cosi per caso,e vedo che tanta gente, le cui radici vanno legate nel nostro paese lontano, sono appassionate ad avere notizie e commenti, su quel paradiso perduto, che rimane l”ISCA DEL CUORE”.
    Sono nato li, in un lontano passato,che in ogni ora del giorno, e parte della notte, mi ritorna presente,per quella struggente nostalgia,che non mi ha mai abbandonato, dal di del mio distacco.Anche io, come moltissimi altri,ho parenti, vicini e lontani in questa terra;i miei nonni sono arrivati qui,in pennsylvaniatra il 1929 ed il 1935,poi susseguentemente ritornati in Italia.
    Vorrei, se non occupo molto spazio, trascrivere qui qualcosa sulla Calabria che sono certo fara’ piacere di leggere: ecco:—-
    Questra Calabria non finisce mai di incantarci, di stupirci; ogni giorno, direi ogni ora, il palpito di una emozione nuova.
    Se a Cosenza erano le luci aeree; quasi un firmamento nuovo, sospeso sui colli della citta’ vecchia, ed il suo misterioso silenzio, a darmi la realta’ tra civilta’ sedimentale e la realta di oggi; a Catanzaro, oltre al delirio del vento, alla bellezza della citta’ Bizantina, che parla ancora di spaventi Saraceni, di vita agra, stenta ma orgogliosa; ho goduto alle seduzioni d’un immobile mare notturno, nella serena calda di Copanello.
    Un mare che pareva ammantarsi con volutta’ d’argento lunare,una superfice silenziosa, a tratti increspata soltanto dai guizzi furtivi e giocosi dei pesci eccitati dalla luna. E’ la stagione, piu’ bella questa, sulle rive del mare ,quando la gente non le infesta ancora,e la notte perde ogni tenebrosita’ per aprirsi ad una tregua felice; dimenticate le ansie del giorno,recuperato invece il senso della vita, come un dono, di cui ognuno ha il dovere di disporre dei modi, ed il diritto di sciuparla nell’estasi, e nella follia se gli aggrava.
    Ahh!!!…la notte e’ come un preludio, un lungo adagio Haendelliano che finicse ai primi sospiri dell’alba; quando la terra sembra perdere ogni peso ed un alito di vento, corre, ad increspare il mare, ed a sollevare effimere onde. Poi a poco a poco il giorno nasce, prodigio sempre nuovo, come la nascita dell’uomo, d’un animale, d’una gemma.
    Lo credevo un esercizio per decadenti questo, di contemplare la notte ed il suo trapasso solenne, all luce del mattino; ma trovo invece dei giovani,che queste cose sanno apprezzarle con il sentimento d’una poesia viva e perfetta. E’ gente di qui, di questi posti,dove il tempo sembra essersi fermato,per quell’ansia che spinge i Calabresi di sapere, di imparare,a temtare la via politica e decorosa dello studio.
    Si dilettano di piaceri semplici, hanno della vita, un’idea corretta e rispettosa anche nei termini sociali,ancorche’ lievemente malinconica, per quel sentimento di segregazione geografica, che assale spesse volte la gente di queste coste; un sentimento che soverchia anche quello gia’ profondo dei montanari.
    La frustazione,l’inutilita’ d’ogni sforzo, qui assume colori teneri,d’un lirismo facile,anche ai risvolti sorridenti della giovinezza. E’ il fatto stesso che essi si dilettano con nulla,ancora gustando il piacere d’una dialettica leggera e brillante, compiacendosi il gusto di spigolare tra grossi autori, ai cui volumi si affidano ai testi sacri;-autori che vanno da Isemin a Pasternak, da Tolstoi a Donstojeski,da Manzoni a Verga, le cui asprezze i Calabri non sembrano completamente amare,a Calvino, i cui lepidi apologhi, collimano con lo spirito di questi ragazzi, piccoli baroni rampanti, sospesi in una realta’ a cui il senso infime sfugge a loro stesso come a noi,-c’e’ li rende cari.
    Sono puliti dentro e fuori, elegantissimi senza le vanita’ e le stravaganze della moda, ragazzi il cui impegno della vita, cosi trasognato e generoso, cosi carezzevole da nascondere le piu’ profonde angoscie, me li rende cari come una bella canzone.
    Mentre all’imbrunire mi accingo a lasciarmi dietro le coste di questo paradiso perduto,provo un senso di tenerezza assoluta,mai provata prima; dai quei monti lontani mi giunge l’ultimo raggio di sole,che sembra sorridermi sincero, come tutti i figli di questa dolce Calabria!

    MANZI Reply:

    Bonjour,mon ailleuil antonio manzi est parti de isca en 1780 pour la corse (ou il a fait souche et ou nous vivons toujours son pere s apellait pancrazio et sa mere canata arbani est ce que ces nom vous disent quelque chose ? merci

  49. Ann Marie( Feudale) Bruno

    I also enjoyed your site. My grand parents are from isca sullo iono. I do not know much about them other then there names I have a few memories as my nonna and popu died when I was young.My nonna was Florence (Coveleski) Feudale and my popu was James Feudale.
    I think his fathers name was Vincenzo Feudale. but the names I remember hearing over and over in stories of my father. Leonard Feudale. Nestico’s and Scicchitano, Varano, My family settles in Marion Heights Pa. My aunt Betty still lives in the family home on Warsaw Street. My father is dead now, but I am still interested in the family history. This site is great thank you for taking the time to develop it.

    Ps my husbands family was from roccafluvione italy John and Maria Bruno, Her maiden name was Felicetti. They also are all gone. that old song comes to mind you don’t know what you got till its gone.

    Ann Bruno

    michelle Reply:

    Hi Ann, thanks for stopping by; I hope you can find more of your family history — it’s a wonderful undertaking, and so rewarding to boot!

    Lorraine Noll Reply:

    Hi, I am Ann Bruno’s sister. My grandfather’s family was from this village. My great grandmother came to America in 1903 when my grandfather was 3 yrs old. My great grandfather was here already working in the coal mines. My grandfather was James Vincenzo Feudale. He Americanized it to Vincent. I don’t know the real spelling of Feudale, that is the Americanize version.

    michelle Reply:

    Hi Lorraine, Feudale is the spelling here as well, but it’s pronounced (roughly) feh-oo-DAHL-eh. It’s a popular name back in the Anthracite Coal Region for sure πŸ™‚

    Lorraine Noll Reply:

    Thanks for getting back to me. I appreciate it. I am looking further into my framily history. Thanks again.

    michelle Reply:

    Best of luck, Lorraine!


    My parents and grandparents were born in Isca. My father’s father (VINCENZO PORTARO) lived in Kulpmont, Pennsylvania and worked in the Coal Mines – my grandmother was (MARIA ROSARIA TERESA MIRIELLO-PORTARO) she moved to Philadelphia to live with us after my Grandfather died in 1972. My mother’s father (VINCENZO PUPO) lived in Mount Carmel for a short time and then moved to South Philadelphia my grandmother was (ELISABETTA ORTONA-PUPO). My parents continue to live in South Philadelphia (ARMANDO & EDDA PORTARO). I spent a lot of my youth in Kulpmont, Mount Carmel, Shamokin, Marion Heights, Kanobles, etc..I have been to Isca many times – I love that little town. I married someone from Satriano (a few towns over). I am very proud of my heritage and very proud of coming from such a beautiful part of Italy.

Michelle KaminskyMichelle Kaminsky is an American attorney-turned-freelance writer who lived in her family's ancestral village in Calabria, Italy for 15 years. This blog is now archived. 

Calabria Guidebook

Calabria travel guide by Michelle Fabio



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Green beans, potatoes, and pancetta
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Pasta with snails alla calabrese
Onion, Oregano, and Thyme Focaccia
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Prosciutto wrapped watermelon with bel paese cheese
Fried eggs with red onion and cheese
Calabrian sausage and fava beans
Ricotta Pound Cake