Guest Blogger Joanne: Mariannina from Celano

In the mountains of Abruzzo there is a town with a rich history … not all of it in text books.

This is the town my mother and my husband were born in, Celano, once a principality now a town that embraces its past while struggling to find its way into the 21st century. Yes, I have strong, deep ties to this town but even if I didn’t, there is something about it that would draw me back.

There is a certain romance that surrounds it. Sometimes, just around twilight, it feels like the old stonewalls are remembering their past and the wind whispers long held secrets to anyone that has the patience to listen.

One long held secret was discovered and brought to light when an old statue was found in an abandoned corner of the local cemetary.

The story behind it was brought to light by the research of a local lawyer and writer named Agostino Di Renzo. The story was so moving that the statue was moved to a place of honour and restored with loving care. Di Renzo wrote the story and now it is passed on through word of mouth and continues to move everyone who hears it.

Locals react to the story because there are still some alive that remember the earthquake that hit in 1915, and there isn’t a single family that wasn’t somehow effected by it.

This is the story of Mariannina Letta and Nino Paolini.

Mariannina and Nino were to be married.

One evening in January, they said good night, probably sneaking a kiss, excited that they would be travelling to Sulmona the next day to buy confetti, sugared almonds for their wedding.

At dawn the next morning Mariannina’s house was destroyed by an earthquake.

In his desperation Nino dug with his bare hands for hours on end until he found her.

Mariannina was wrapped in a sheet, her arm over her head as if to protect herself.

They buried her in her wedding gown and as they did, Nino played his violin for her.

For years afterward, every night at the same time, Nino went to Mariannina’s tomb and serenaded her with his violin. And every night he left her with these words:

Buona notte Mariannina, a domani …

When, after many years, Nino’s destiny took him away from Celano, he had a statue made that immortalized Mariannina, wrapped in a sheet, her arm over her head as if to protect herself.

Cherrye’s Note: Joanne lives in Milan where she blogs about her passion for food at Frutto della Passione and showcases photos at her photoblog, Much Ado About Pictures. Please visit her soon.

10 Responses
  1. Lucy

    That was sadly beautiful…sniffle sniffle…they should have a book with these sad stories for us romantics.

  2. I am soooo glad you liked it, Running!

    Happy to share, Michelle.

    Wasn’t it sad, Erin?? But it was nice!!

    Ditto, Erin!

    That would be a GREAT book, Lucy. Why dont you compile that for us, girl??

  3. Maria Subrani Midles

    When I was growing up my grandmother spoke vividly of this earthquake. She was sleeping over at her aunts house and was awoken to the earth quake. Half of the house went into the ground and a lot of her family was killed. she was only a little girl and was wondering alone on the street and the Red Cross scooped her up and took her to Rome. Unbelievably, her parents found her! I would love to go and see Celano where her and my grandfather were from. The day she turned 10 years old she landed on Ellis Island with her brother accompanied by a close family friend. Her father sent for them as soon as he had enough money from his shoe repair business. Her mother still had to follow but never made it because she had passed away in Italy.

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