With all too much time to kill until my train in the morning, I left Rome’s Termini station to find some place to take a piss. Little did I know that when I would return I would be locked out for three hours. I should have taken the hint from all the people lined around the outer walls, with their make shift bedding of cardboard mattresses and filthy blankets, that the metal and marble comforts of the station would be under the scrutiny of lock and key overnight.
It’s fitting to begin where it all begun: Agnone, in Molise province of Italia, the home of not just my grandparents, but my extended family before they immigrated to Montreal in the 1950’s. Walking these streets I feel like a child again going to the park in Ville LaSalle. Not that the towns have any resemblance, but it’s all these faces I have seen before. The wrinkles of an old lady are the same as my Nonna, another one’s sleeveless house dress, blue with a pattern of little yellow flowers, with a white t-shirt underneath, I saw the same one growing up in the garden.
So, needless to say, I have a level of familiarity with the people here. Language plays an important role, though I am far from fluent in Italian. Having been exposed to the Agnonese dialect I understand these people better than their Northern countrymen. It helps to speak a language, but when you are versed in their slang doors open up, and they no longer treat you as an outsider, or a tourist, but a distant relative coming home again.