Come with us as we explore Italy and check out properties for Gira! Italian Vacation Rentals.
I can assure you that Lenola is on very few itineraries for Italy travelers. But many of us in the Italian diaspora long to see our family village if we haven’t completely lost touch with our roots. It’s the point of departure for nonno or nonna before they left to follow a dream in America or elsewhere. It’s also the place they left their hearts behind, and when we go back we still find people who remember them. That’s what Lenola is to us.
Grandpa Onorato left Lenola behind when he departed from Naples in 1909, eventually working in Pennsylvania and then in the marble mines of Colorado. He was there when they extracted the white marble that became the Lincoln Memorial. As he lived out his years in America, the people and the town of Lenola moved on. We get to see the continuing story when we visit, which is nearly every year.
We leave Tuscany very early because we don’t want to be late for the 1pm lunch hour in Lenola. Because it’s Sunday, we’ll get to see everyone. It’s a four hour journey, and nearly the entire trip is on the A1, which conveniently goes the direction we need to travel. We bypass Rome, heading south and we leave the superstrada at the Ceprano exit in Latina. From here, it’s one winding mountain road after another until we reach our destination. We are just in time and hungry for some great authentic Lazio cuisine!
Pranzo (lunch) is a wild mix of Italian, English and the local dialect, all happening at once. Several generations are gathered at the table, including long time Lenola natives and close family who still live in New Jersey. As is the custom, they start with some traditional pasta with tomato sauce. But don’t eat too much, as there is much more to come in the way of grilled meats, vegetable dishes and locally made bread…not to mention the local wines, liqueurs and grappas and the home made torta for dessert.
It would seem that we couldn’t move after a long drive and a meal like this, but we are anxious to get out and walk the village, as we always do. We’ve been enchanted with the images we see on Lenola Daily Photo, and are amazed that this little village can be portrayed as an object of modern photographic art.
We find ourselves at the “church on the hill” known also as Santuario Maria Santissimi del Colle. By the church, there is a sad memorial to the Lenolese who died after an American bomb hit a Sunday morning church service in January of 1944, killing many of the congregation. Leading down from the church, into the village, is the Walk of Peace, which includes beautiful mosaics from all over the world.
As darkness comes, we spend some time strolling through the winding streets of the village, looking at the ancient houses, many of which have been converted into comfortable apartments. There is a section of town that dates back to the eleventh century, behind a fortified wall. Today we walk freely between both sections.
After a bit, we find ourselves at the “church in the town”, Lenola’s other church. It was recently remodeled, and features a modernist altar that is all the discussion of the town. Outside, great aunt Assunta asks if we are staying for Mass, which is just being announced by the tolling of the bells. We stay through the service and afterward have a small dinner before we retire for the evening–in the very same room where Onorato was born in the 1880’s.
Tomorrow: Castel Gandolfo