In 1960 after earthquakes and landslides devastated much of their region, my grandparents with three children in tow, decided to emigrate from Italy to America. They never integrated into the American way. Never learning the language nor adapting fully to the different culture. They maintained most of their customs and traditions.
A few years ago, I began photographing them in their environment, a 3-story walkup in South Yonkers, just north of NYC, which they purchased shortly after moving to the United States. I also photographed them interacting with our family, a family that for the most part has integrated into an American way of life. Throughout this project I have been able to relate to my grandparents in ways that most grandchildren never take advantage of. I have listened to my grandfather's World War II stories. I have listened to my grandmother tell about a typical day growing up on a farm, in the poorest region of Italy.
My grandparents cannot read or write in English or Italian and just as once upon a time when stories were passed on by word of mouth, from generation to generation, they have passed on their stories to me. These photographs are my attempt to share their story.
My family history has taken me back often to a small town in the south of Italy, from where my grandparents and parents immigrated. As a child my family would often spend their summers there. For the last few years I’ve returned to the small hillside town in Basilicata, and while there, I began trying to capture in photographs “la vita quotidiana” the daily life.
At its most populous, seven hundred years ago, Cirigliano boasted about fifteen hundred citizens. Today, two hundred people remain. Our summer vacations there created a bond for me that has lasted as I've gotten older. This "other" place, with relatives and friends, the names of people I always heard spoken about, the faded pictures and old home movies, tied me to this different way of life, nestled in the hills of Southern Italy.