Gambatesa Town Ambassador Award to Pietro Abiuso from Molise for his great love for his Italian roots and the building of a very strong bridge between Italian and American culture.
Some time ago we published the story of Gambatesa and we were surprised when the photographs came to us from Pietro Abiuso, a gentleman of Italian origin who now lives in Florida.
Pietro has spent his entire life back and forth between Gambatesa and various parts of the United States, and his family history is truly amazing.
His family’s first wave of migration occurred in the nineteenth century, shortly after the unification of Italy, and his paternal grandmother was born in Pennsylvania. Then, during the Great Depression, the family returned to Italy, where in the meantime they had bought a farmhouse, and his grandmother got married in her hometown near Campobasso.
They were very proud because the farmhouse belonged to the Prosdocimo Rotondo family, the nobles of Gambatesa.
They had 8 children and the situation becomes difficult even in Italy, so they decided to return to the United States by sending their first son Pasquale on in advance. To overcome the Italian bureaucracy and speed up the time taken, Pietro’s father went to America illegally via Canada, despite being born to American parents.
He arrived in New York and bought a two-story house in Brooklyn from a lady who was also from Gambatesa. Then the other 7 siblings arrived and the whole family was reunited in America. But a somewhat envious lady denounced him because he was an irregular immigrant and Pasquale was arrested.
He was therefore forced to return to Italy even though all his brothers remained in the United States. Never mind, life must be taken with the right measures and Pasquale created his new family in Gambatesa where he married Nicolina and Pietro is born.
But once again the link with America was destined to continue. In fact, in 1976 an American girl from Gambatesa came to Italy and fell in love with Pietro and after a few letters the two decided to get married and to settle in America.
Pietro was a ‘geometer’ and in America there is no equivalent for this profession, moreover he did not speak English and had to be satisfied with what he could find. So his first job was on a sewing machine in a clothes factory.
But he earned enough to pay for college and for the numerous trips that always connected him to Italy.
And the desire to return to Italy at least a couple of times a year and the cost of airline tickets, for the whole growing family, were elements that would affect his entire life. Pietro never hesitated to always do a couple of jobs in order to keep his bond with Gambatesa alive.
An anecdote defines his character well: he had found a good job as a technical designer in an engineering studio but they didn’t give him much vacation. It was Christmas time and Pietro wanted to go with his family for 3 weeks to Italy.
It was important for him to participate in the ‘Maitunate’, a tradition of Gambatesa in which people go from house to house throughout the night before the morning of January 1st to recite ironic poems about the behaviour of other villagers. A great collective mockery in which the humour of the community is strengthened, a day where it is possible to tell all the truths and then find yourself getting a big hug.
That year even though Pietro was the ‘work gang leader’ he resigned from his job in order not to lose his Gambatesa tradition and flew to Italy.
In fact, in his life he would quit another 3 times to go on vacation to Gambatesa.
Back in America he found many other jobs, always doing at least a couple at a time to be able to pay for his trips to Italy and raise his children in the best possible way. Eventually he found peace working for the American postal system, where he became an inspector, and as a coach for football schools.
And life continued with the children who every year firstly celebrated July 4th in America and then flew for a couple of months to Gambatesa. It should be noted that the children have names typical of the Gambatesa tradition: Pasquale and Nicolina.
The other great passion: Crazy Horse
When he was little he was an avid reader of Tex, of which his uncle had a collection, and he was attracted to the American history of the relationship with the Navajo Indians. A passion so strong that after buying a book on the various Indian tribes, one night he dreamed of Crazy Horse which led him to go to his grave.
Crazy Horse was a Sioux and was the only Indian chief who had defeated the US military. His history is partly shrouded in mystery also because his period of cohabitation with the white man was very short.
He had been killed at 37 and his father had buried his body in a special place. He had never been photographed because he said that photography stole the soul, but there were several photographs of him but the people seemed different.
So Pietro started doing research and became recognized as an expert so much so that he was interviewed by the Billings Gazette. And this interview changed his life.
In fact, after reading it he was contacted by a descendant of Crazy Horse and by Cesare Marino, an anthropologist who worked at the Smithsonian and who is also of Italian origin.
The two continue their research together, went to Nebraska where they found a particularly rich archive and in the end they wrote a revolutionary book: ‘The Face of Crazy Horse’.
With this passion and his never ending research, Pietro was then admitted to the Indian community and now participates in their rites. The shaman Francis White Lance wrote the preface to this book implicitly acknowledging the great credibility of the two Italian researchers.
But Gambatesa is always first in the heart of Pietro.
And for this reason, together with the mayor Carmelina Genovese, we are happy to deliver the Town Ambassador Award to Pietro Abiuso for his pure and infinite love for Gambatesa.