Finally thanks to the memories and stories of the sister of Giuseppe Semeraro, Anna Filomena, the true identity of GC and his connection with the Semeraro family have been discovered.
On December 8, 1912 Giovanni Calò, native of Oria, bought buildings, threshing floor and ground of Antonio Lentini for 600 liras. He lived there with his wife Filomena Scapati and in 1922 he built a one-storey building next to the existing one, dated 1908.
Not far from their property, Francesco Semeraro had a small plot of land and often he freely used the threshing floor and the well of Mr Calò. Between the two families developed such a beautiful and strong friendship that, needing help and being childless, in the early 20’s Mr and Mrs Calò adopted de facto Francesco Paolo, second-born of Mr and Mrs Semeraro, then only 10 years old. As an adult, Francesco Paolo stayed in the building of 1922 of the manor farm with his wife Maria Greco and their three children (Giovanni, Anna Filomena and Giuseppe), while Mr and Mrs Calò continued to live in the part dated 1908.
After more than 40 years, Anna Filomena is back in the place that saw her as a girl, teenager, fiancée and wife of Pietro Caragnano, mother for the first time. Every room, every step outside rises to the surface memories of the years spent in this small manor farm.
Anna Filomena immediately recognizes the magnificent olive tree and she remembers that there was also a huge black mulberry tree in the centre of the courtyard where her father made the kennel for Fido; the threshing floor where every summer her father threshed the wheat holding the reins of the donkey at the centre of the big space covered with large stones while the animal, walking around, stepped on the ears so that the grains of wheat came out; the boxes of honey that her grandfather and her father put among the dry-stone walls along the lateral borders and the threshing floor; the roof of the làmia, the small rural building between the threshing floor and the house used as a cow-shed and previous to 1908, which she used as a ledge for her plants; the oven, where her mother cooked a bread with an unmistakable and unforgettable taste, and nearby the small cow-shed and the closed pigsty; the hiding place for the gun in one of the walls of the room with the large fireplace where, in addition to cooking, they used to sit and chat, knit, do the housework; the hole dug into the south facade used in the Second World War to control the arrival of the Allies or Enemies coming from the Gulf of Taranto and from the inland part; the inner stairs, now only covered, but once connecting the room of Mr and Mrs Calò with the cellar where they kept wheat, almonds, oats, olive oil, beans, milk, broad beans, cheese, eggs, and where there was also a honey extractor; many pictures with holy images with their thick carved wooden frame crowding the bedroom of Nunnù, as Filomena Scapati was affectionally called because Anna Filomena and her brothers considered her as their grandmother; the breakfast rooms, once separated by a wall because they were manger and stable; the laundry room, where her father kept the cart and what he needed to work in the fields. Looking at the stunning view at the sunset, Anna Filomena remembers the train whistles and the sounds of the patronal festival of the nearby Palagianello in honour of the Madonna of the Grace that reached the manor farm when the sirocco blew from the sea.
After the death of Giovanni Calò (1953), Francesco Paolo inherited the whole property and, after his death (1994), it went to his son Giuseppe. The small manor farm was inhabited until 1971 when, living Giovanni in Genoa and Giuseppe in Catania, Anna Filomena decided to move in town with her family and her mother, dead in 2012. In the same year, Giuseppe Semeraro decides to sell the ancient massarì d l’urjtèn and two years later the manor farm has been bought by a young coulpe of Mottola, Gabriella Quero and Raffaele Caramia, parents of Erica and Gioia.
Today it is La casa di Gioia, but it will be the home of everyone will stay in this corner of Apulia, in the countryside, overlooking the Gulf of Taranto, in a ravine and a few kilometers from the town.
GC. Two letters that have brought to light a fascinating story of the past. Two letters that are writing a new story, but certainly not less fascinating.