That sense of place exists for many Canadians of Italian descent. I think none more so than those who are a son or daughter of the many who left later in life and still maintain their traditions on this side of the pond. If you left Calabria when you were very young or were born in Canada to Calabrese immigrants, it is a distinct and unmistakable feeling of home when that plane lands in Lamezia and you enter the terminal to the arms of waiting relatives.
I think it exists for many people who make that decision (or have it essentially made for them) to leave home for 'something better'. I have it when that plane lands in Nova Scotia or New Brunswick and I step out of the airport to the smell of the sea. And although I've been away, my blood is still a little saltier than most, I know the damp sweet scent of the Atlantic Maritime forest first hand and I've spent many a summer birthday at the beach shrouded in a near record breaking 19th straight day of fog.. And while my passport might confuse you, am I a Maritimer?
So while nothing in the deep South of Italy might be familiar for me (except the proximity to the ocean and the wonderful abundance of fresh fish), my husband and his family are at home thousands of miles away from where they live, work and spend their days. You can see it as plain as if it were the sun on their faces.
Zia's house (photo above) isn't where we'd normally stay. But with the passing a few years ago of the last remaining single Uncle, the old family homestead is closed and Zia had graciously opened her door to us. Setting our cases down on the terrazzo, opening the ancient brass sliding latches on the windows and looking out the surrounding gardens of fruit trees, grape vines and tomatoestomatoestomatoes, makes even the most sentimental Italian hungry!
Ok, thirsty too.