In Reply to: Re: Finding family posted by diane kissner on April 23, 2005 at 18:14:53:
Stories about San Donato are NEVER boring! I love hearing about any type of stories that are linked to San Donato. You will enjoy your trip in June. I am planning to go back again in August, but June is a great time for you to go, as it will not be as hot during June. I can tell you many things about the culture of San Donato Val di Comino. First, the favorite leisure activity of the town is to travel to Forca'Darcero mountain, which is only a 20 or 30 minute drive from the town. It is a beautiful hiking or picnic area. Also, there is a restaurant on Forca D'arcero mountain, which is a great place to buy cheese or other types of regional foods. The scenery there is beautiful, as you will find beautiful trees, see other visitors grilling food, or even just reading a book. The climate in Forca D'arcero mountain is very chilly, so you may want to bring a sweatshirt or jacket. The air is clean and crisp there, so please do stop there and take a photo. The drive up to Forca D'arcero mountain is scenic, as you can take many pictures of the panoramic views. The other part of the culture is to pass the time by taking a stroll to the piazza. There are 4 cafes in the piazza. The San Donatese enjoy taking walks, and they often stop along the way to talk to their friends or family. The piazza is the only gathering place, and you may even find some of the local watching TV in the cafes, especially soccer. There is also a bar which the San Donatese refer to as the "chalet". It is situated up on a hill, tucked into one of the green hills of the town. There is a mixed age group there, although it tends to be more popular with the under 25 age group.
The important part of the culture of the town are the open markets, or flea markets, in the piazza on Sundays. You will see hundreds of people buying fish, cheese, fruits, shoes, handbags, linens, even toys. The flea market usually closes up at about 1:00pm or so, as that is the popular time that most people start to head home for their large, Sunday meal. Since the San Donatese are family oriented, many families eat together or have visitors on Sundays, while they sometimes take a nap around 3:30 or so. The piazza tends to be more tranquil between 1:30pm and 4:30pm, but comes to life again around 5:30 or so. There is also a public pool in town, where you will see many families and friends gathering and tanning. Also, some of the San Donatese will go to Sora, to purchase gold jewelery, especially when searching for quality gold at a lower price. I highly recommend Quintiliano's jewelery store in Sora. You will love it there. Sora also has very large open flea markets.
You will be amazed at how warm and friendly the San Donatese people are there, as you can strike up a conversation with anyone in the town. Since San Donatese love to talk, you will feel welcome there as you sit in the piazza. They will all want to know who you are, and who your family is. Try to find out the nickname of your family, as San Donatese identify families with nicknames, especially since there are many last names that are the same, but you may not have any relation to them. If you find out the nickname, you are bound to find someone in the cafes that may know your family. Trust me on this, as I have been going there several times a year since I was 10 years old. The other solution is to go to the town hall, or check out the geneology web page to trace information. The San Donatese are better than a web page because many families live there for generations. My aunt Rafaela in Boston has the last name of Rufo, but I do not think she is related to Marietta Rufo.
The other part of the San Donatese culture is their ties to their Catholic Religion. Attending church or religious processions in the town is very popular. During the month of August, the people of the town walk through the town with a band, as they hold up the
statue of San Donato. In fact, there is an entire festival for the whole month of August, in celebration of the Saint. There are bright, arches of colorful lights throughout the town in August and at Christmas.
The other part is their political celebrations. As you walk through the town, you may hear political speeches from the mayor, Antonello Antonellis, who is an extremely intelligent, well spoken, and compassionate leader of the Communist party. At times, you may hear debates about town issues by opposing political parties. Communism has been the political party of San Donato since the 1940's.
Overall, the culture is about family, friends, and close ties to their church, or political affiliations. Shopping at the flea market and the gatherings in the piazza, as you are welcomed by friendly, caring people is truly the heart of San Donato.
Just be careful of the men there. : )