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Italy Revisited

The day to day life of Italians living in the countryside at the turn of 20th century is described in detail in Mary Melfi's memoir entitled: Italy Revisited, Conversations with my Mother. Anything and everything is looked at – from the South's matrimonial customs, to how time was told (by the shadow the sun cast), to how laundry was done (by the river or at a public water fountain), to how wheat and olive oil were the currency of choice (barter was in use) and how old-time religion explained the meaning of life. The search for the author's roots took her on a time travel trip to the 12th century. Here church bells spoke for God; the baker woman knocked on folks' doors in the middle of the night, taking their unbaked loaves of bread to her place of business; the medicine woman boiled the leaves of chestnut trees and applied the treated water to stubborn wounds; here the newly-deceased were laid out in their best clothes in open coffins on kitchen tables; here marriages were as much about property as they were about love (Pre-nuptial agreements were the order of the day). In Italy Revisited Mary Melfi set out to understand the old world and how it influenced her upbringing in North America. She discovered that despite the abject poverty of the 1930s, the peasantry in Italy had a beautiful and unique culture. In 2015 Italy Revisited was translated by Claude Bèland and published under the title, “Là-bas, en Italie, Conversations avec ma mère,” (Montreal: Editions Triptyque, 2015). The book was also released in Italian.