58. Zampognari

Murano glass from Venice.

There’s something about Christmas that makes us nostalgic, weepy even, about Christmases past. My father, a world-class weeper, was certainly not immune from that.

I came across this Christmas memory in a 1981 letter he wrote to me while he was listening to Italian Christmas songs, more than 40 years after leaving Gaeta. (An article in Italy Magazine explains that the word zampognari comes from zampogna, or bagpipes. “The zampognari were originally shepherds who came down from the hills at Christmas to celebrate with their families and entertain people at various shrines but now they are often men who work in cities but whose families have a zampognaro tradition.”) My father’s wrote:

“Yes, Christmas is here. No one better than Luciano Pavarotti can tell me that. Perhaps he is not as good as the Zampognari from the mountains of Gaeta that used to come early in the morning to sing their favorite carols. But, he will have to do. Luciano may sing better. But, he does not have huge bagpipes, special hard bread to give away, special clothes. And most of all, he does not sing to me early in the morning when I am still half asleep. And the whole world is at peace.”


One thought on “58. Zampognari

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s