Interview with Marianna: “I’m still here”

marianna in her living room

Home

Interview with Marianna: Topic: “Home”. We meet Marianna in her apartment in the new part of Tropea, Italy. Mainly functional buildings put up in the 80s. Compared to the more ancient, beautiful town center, houses here are quite anonymous and leave us with an impression of decay. Marianna’s apartment is full of little objects, paintings and photographs that she collected over time ever since she moved here in 1981. We sit down in her kitchen, where she spends most of her time and talk about whatever the word “home” means to her.

Marianna, where do you feel home?

In my house.

Have you had other homes before this one?

I felt at home with my parents in Tropea, near today’s train station (note: Marianna mentions plenty of names involved that we have no idea of). Then, I got married and went to Ciró (note: Ciró is on the east coast of Calabria around 200km from Tropea where Marianna grew up).

When exactly?

From age 22 to 49.

Was that the first time that you left your hometown?

Yes. Actually, no, I had been in Florence to study. I did the first two years of studies to become a primary school teacher. After that, I came back to Tropea and later went to Ciró to stay with my aunt. There, I met my husband and got married in 1953 and I stayed in Ciró until my husband became ill in 1978.

Do you remember how you felt after you first left your hometown?

I left Tropea with hope for a new life, a feeling of being re-born. From all points of view. Feeling affection from my husband and so forth.

How was the first impact?

In short, the first impact was not nice.

Why?

Because of my mother in law (everybody laughs). She was a tiger. That was not nice. It was nice because there was my husband who loved me. So one compensated for the other. In short, I felt really good. Good with friends. They always loved me and were there for me and I was too, also for the neighbors. 

How come that you decided to not stay in Ciró when your husband became ill even though you felt like you belonged there?

Eh! I suffered more for my departure back to my hometown than for leaving my hometown to go to Ciró.

Explain

I was so well integrated that when we came back here, bought a house and I had to stay here, I always felt homesick for Ciró.

marianna kitchen close up

Why did you come back?

Because my husband needed help, he wanted to be taken out! Here, there were my brothers who had a car.

So you came back because it was more comfortable?

It was for my husband to have company. He said: “What do we do here all by ourselves (in Ciró)?
He didn’t have anyone there. He said: “You don’t have anyone. Let’s go to Tropea and find a house there!”. After coming here, we spent two years at my brother’s house until they had finished building this house. We moved in here 1981 and I’m still here.

After 31 years you still carry the nostalgia for the place where you felt so well integrated in you?

Yes! Yes, yes!

Do you feel like you’re in the wrong place?

Not wrong, because it’s the place where I was born, where my affections are today. But I was well integrated. With friendships, with my house. I felt like I was in the right place. Here I feel a stranger.

So what does the feeling of home depend on? Because in your case it’s obviously not only your place of birth.

Memories. Beautiful memories, bad memories. There I got married, there my children were born. The beautiful moments have all been there. Here, I came because of an illness, which was not nice. Then after the illness, there was death.

Do you think that a person could create a true feeling of home in a new place where he or she finds the circumstances that you found in Ciró back then?

I think that if life continues like this (in the new place), with a feeling of family and a home…I think yes.

So it can be anywhere?

Yes. 

And what do you do about the melancholia now?

Eh! Melancholia, sadness, problems, worries.

If you think more concretely about the melancholia with regards to Ciró?

Let’s say that if I had money, which I don’t, I wouldn’t invest any of it here (referring to the house she now lives in). But there, in Ciró, I would. Because the really beautiful years from age 23 to 50, I spent them all there.marianna in front of stove

marianna hands


Place of Birth: Tropea, Italy
Parents: Eleonora Taccone (housewife), Giuseppe Serramondo (worked in telecommunications)
Siblings: Carmelo, Caterina, Mercurio, Maria (died at age 3) & Francesco. Francesco is the youngest and the last one alive besides Marianna who was the first born.
Profession: Housewife. Always been, except for two years in Florence when she studied to be a primary school teacher.
Age: 86
Nationality: Italian
Relationship status: Widow since 31 years
Romantic or realistic? Both. I’m realistic but I like beautiful movies, romantic songs and poems.
How many Facebook friends do you have? Never had a Facebook profile.
Adventure or Stability? Stability.
Coffee or Tea? Tea. Preferably relaxing ones.
If I were a bitterballen I’d be filled with… hazelnut cream (this one needed some explanation for a southern Italian lady)

marianna looking down from her balcony

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