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New blog.

I have moved!  My new blog is at  Please update your RSS feeder and/or bookmarks.

See you there. 🙂


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Update on my summer internship.

I finally bought a ticket to Italy. I was able to find one that flies directly to Rome (with one layover in Philly) for cheap through (thanks to Eleanor for the link!). picture-5

I leave the day after my finals on May 13th and return on October 29th. That’s right – I’ll be in Italy for five months and half! I originally planned for three months but my friends and father encouraged me to stay as long as I can. I’m young (well, sort of!), single and fresh out of college. The timing really can’t be more perfect.

I will not be renewing my lease which is up on March 31st so in April and the first two weeks of May, I will be staying at either my dad’s or mom’s. I’ll store most of my furniture in a storage room and keep my prized possessions at my mom’s house. My friend, Kim, and my mom both said they would be more than happy to take turns taking care of my dog while I’m gone. So everything seems to be working out the way I had hoped!

If anyone’s considering visiting Italy this year, please let me know! You’d be more than welcome to stay with me in my flat.

I’m overwhelmed with the warm enthusiasm expressed by fellow calitrani about this news!

I’m so glad that it worked out! You will have to take a lot of pictures when you are there!! 🙂 – Bernedette

What a great opportunity for you..wish I had done this as a young buck….keep a journal and maybe share it with us if you wish. – Roberto

Congratulations! Louise and I send our very Best Wishes. – Al

Congratulations….. Spring time in Calitri… you will love it….Nice apartment…….Auguri… and keep blogging to keep us current with your exploits….. – Vincent

BRAVO! – Elaine

congratulations that’s a wonderful experience for you. My wife Pat and I are planning to spend a few days in Calitri in September of this year will you still be there then? We would love to meet and see you. – Ray

If you need a porter, I can find a red cap that will fit me easily. Congratulations. – Shirley

How exciting! I am so happy for you. Everything will work out for you. You are amazing and have been amazing to all of us. – Barbara

Congratulations Jason!….that is wonderful for you. – Rick

Congratulations. – Madeline & Sal

Allow me to join the chorus of voices congratulating you on your internship. One more reason for me to visit Calitri… – Gabe

Congratulations on your internship, Jason. This is absolutely wonderful. I know you will have a wonderful time and take beautiful photos. (We’ve all seen your work. Great, innovative shots!) – Mario

I am so happy for you. To be in Calitri all those months. – Joy

Congratulations on your internship. What a thrill it must be to grow a hobby into a profession so to speak. And to spend the summer in Calitri getting paid (albeit not very much) to do something that has got to be the thrill of a lifetime. – Richard

Congratulations, so happy to hear good news. – Francine

…just want to add how happy I am for your upcoming internship plans in Calitri. What a wonderful experience for you both personally and professionally. How fortunate you are to have the chance to expand your knowledge first hand and with your own eyes. It’s a rare moment and one you will always cherish. Good luck… – Josie

I am so happy that you have received the internship and that you will be doing it in Calitri. It could not of happened to a more deserving individual. – Alfonso

And from my cousin in Milano:

Sono molto contento!!! Spero di venire a Calitri in questo periodo. – Michele

Wow! Their enthusiasm is inspiring and touching! This probably wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for them… so to them, I owe a huge grazie mille.

In other news, I’m considering the possibility of publishing a book with pictures I will take in Calitri upon my return. There’s a cookbook with calitrani recipes, a history book about Calitri, a book about immigrants from Calitri….so why not a photo book? Just a thought.


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Mi casa

I spent all morning cleaning my place in preparation for tonight’s game night. My place isn’t always this immaculate so I decided to seize the opportunity and snap pictures of my place while it lasts!

Click on the pictures to see the full image.

Dining Room / Kitchen

Dining Room / Kitchen

Pictures I took while my sister and I were in Europe last year.  Sorry the picture in the bottom right is hard to see....

Pictures I took while my sister and I were in Europe last year. Sorry the picture in the bottom right is hard to see...

I stole the above idea from the incredibly talented Tara Whitney.

Living Room / Dining Room

Living Room / Dining Room


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Registro dei matrimoni (1765-1801) for Calitri

Luigi Galgano apparently finally got permission from the bishop to publish the marriage records he painstakingly transcribed last year.

Go here to view them. Check it out. It’s a treasure trove for us calitrani!


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Change. I can sense it and I’m sure you can too. The air is thick with it, especially today.

The following are signs that 2009 is going to be an awesome year:

  • President Obama is officially our president. Wow, President Obama, isn’t that something? I watched part of the historical moment this morning and have never felt more inspired. He’s truly an amazing orator. I especially loved the part where he mentioned non-believers and four other major religions in the same breath.
  • I’m running away to Europe in 23 days.
  • I graduate this May. Finally.
  • I have a very possible summer internship in a place I hold very dear to my heart: Calitri. (More on that later!)
  • I will be a first-time uncle in August.
  • And most importantly, my family, friends and dog all are in good health.

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    Midnight ramblings

    I’m having trouble sleeping tonight. My basset hound, Siena, is going in for a surgery in the morning to have her sebaceous cyst removed and her teeth cleaned. Nothing life-threatening but I’m still worried. After having lost Dante last September, I’m a little overprotective of her.

    Anyway, instead of lying wide awake in bed waiting for sleep to come, I’ve decided to blog.

    For lunch today, I had what may be the most amazing Gravad Lax (raw cured salmon) I’ve ever eaten in my entire life. I bet you’d never guess where. You ready? The cafe at IKEA! Told you you’d never guess! After taking the first bite, I knew I just had to buy some so I got four packages at a surprisingly low price of $4.99 each. And it’s healthy, to boot!

    Gravad Lax

    Gravad Lax

    Once Kim and I finished our lunch, we went on a little shopping spree. I feel like a kid in a candy store every time I walk in. I have had my eyes set on their Hopen bedroom furniture but logic took hold and I decided to wait until I win the lottery or something. I ended up buying a couple of frames, lamps and a pot.

    After that, I went to pick up my bike…all tuned up and ready to go! I’m excited.

    This is second day of my healthy regimen and I’m already feeling more energetic than usual. That could be the other reason why I’m not able to sleep.

    Okay, I’m going to bed, or at least try to. A long, busy day awaits me.


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    This evening, as I wrote a message in Italian to a friend on Facebook, I randomly wondered to myself — how and when did I first learn Italian?

    I thought about it and realized that it all began in sixth grade at Palomino Elementary. I had a teacher named Ms. Tabacca who quickly became my favorite. She taught us many things including culture, poetry and French that have left a lasting impression on me. I remember that she would give us a French lesson every Wednesday, of which I dreaded like nothing else. Being deaf, I struggled and lagged behind. Not only that, my teacher had my hearing classmates practice speaking French while I sat quietly and feeling very self-conscious until it was time to work on reading and writing in French. Oh, how I hated it!

    Ms. Tabacca soon realized this and was determined to give me the same opportunity and access afforded to other students. While everyone worked on their pronunciation, she had me memorize an impressive list of irregular and regular verbs as well as their conjugations. Then she taught me about French gender, articles (definite, indefinite and partitive), determiners and so on. I became so immersed in it that by the end of the year, my command of French was probably equivalent to that of a first-semester French college student.

    By then, I was completely hooked and continued studying French throughout middle school. My 7th and 8th grade French teacher, Mrs. Hoffman, was so impressed with my French that I was her “pet” from day one. Whenever she asked a question in class that no one could answer, she’d turn her attention to me and say, “Gaston, dites-leur!” (Jason, tell them!)

    In high school, my foreign language requirements were waived because I was fluent in ASL so I did not continue studying French. However, it was during this time that I became interested in discovering my roots and being part Italian, I was curious about Italian. I remember being amazed when I noted how similar it was to French. At the age of 16 or 17, I became acquainted with a fellow calitrano, Mario Toglia, who noticed my interest and sent me a whole bunch of old Il Paperino (Italian version of Donald Duck) comic books (which I still have and treasure!). I scrutinized them every night, over and over, until I was able to understand them word for word. I bought books and dictionaries, made flash cards, subscribed to Il Calitrano, read La Repubblica on the Internet and wrote in Italian whenever I could.

    A few years later, the Italian Placement Exam at Rochester Institute of Technology placed me into Fifth Year Italian, quite an accomplishment considering I never took Italian before. I went on to complete Sixth Year Italian before returning home to Arizona.

    Today, English and American Sign Language aside, I know Italian fluently and have enough grasp of the French and Spanish languages to the point where I can sustain an entire afternoon’s worth of conversation. I’ve also dabbled in German, Romanian and dialetto calitrano. I want to learn Mandarin Chinese, Esperanto, Hebrew, Russian, Latin, the list is endless. So many languages, so little time.

    So, Ms. Tabacca — if you ever read this, I want to thank you for instilling the passion I have for languages. If it weren’t for you, I would have never overcome my fear and learned all the languages I know today. I probably would not have gone to Italy as many times as I have. My relatives in Calitri barely speak English. If I weren’t able to communicate with them by writing back and forth in Italian, how would we have communicated? I probably would not have known my Italian-speaking cousins on Facebook, some of whom I talk to on an almost daily basis.

    Tu as vraiment fait une grande différence dans ma vie et c’est à toi que je dois tout.

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