Our literary voyage, which takes place over two millennia, is aimed at arriving at conclusions that will go far in explaining who we are as scattered Italians, and why we act out life’s drama as we do. We will be in the company of some of the titans of history, along with the beloved people of the Gambino and Sparacino families, to whom I belong. We shall experience firsthand how we overcame fate’s erratic and perverse inconsistencies, which culminated in an extraordinary cultural and historical upheaval; the forced migration of the Italian people.
During the latter period of the 1800s through to the early 1900s, Italy was set upon by enormous catastrophes that were the result of mankind’s folly. The outcome affected an entire nation, as well as the world at large, causing a Diaspora, or a scattering abroad of the Italian people and their descendants. Few were fortunate enough to return to reclaim the resulting lost identity and citizenship. Our story touches all of us, for we all seek, at one time or another, our true persona during life’s journey.
We in the West are the recipients of a common civilization, much of it bequeathed to us by Italy. Think of it; many of the laws we live by, much of the music, art, poetry and food we enjoy, myriad scientific achievements, and many of the languages we speak originated from this divine peninsula surrounded by the azure Mediterranean Sea. The Roman Empire, as well as the consequences of the Renaissance, continues to define our common inheritance and influence our daily lives. Consider that a large percentage of the English language, the present lingua franca, originated from Latin, our great mother tongue.* Our people discovered the Americas!
Dante Alighieri, Francesco Petrarca, Giovanni Boccaccio, Niccolo Machiavelli, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo Buonarroti, Fra Angelico, Giuseppe Verdi, Gioacchino Rossini, Antonio Vivaldi, Arturo Toscanini, Galileo Galilei, Alessandro Volta, Gugliermo Marconi, Enrico Fermi, Marco Polo, Cristofero Colombo, and Amerigo Vespucci were but a few of the great Italian personalities of literature, art, science, and discovery. It is my firm belief that without Italy and the Italians, the world would surely have remained dark, cold, unknown, and uncivilized.
I am truly challenged by the task of recounting this tale objectively, as I am Italian, and therefore I confess that I am particularly subject to Italy’s many charms.