Cobblestones, Conversations and Corks is a passionate and deeply moving story about a father-son relationship; a culture rooted in family, food and wine; and an ancestral small town in Central Italy that was left behind after World War II. On November 11, 1943, the Germans invaded Cansano, forcing its two thousand inhabitants to make a tough decision—fight and be killed or sent to a POW camp, stay behind as servants to the Germans, or move into the unforgiving mountains of Abruzzo while the Germans used their village as a home base. Giovanni Ruscitti’s family chose the latter and spent the next few months living in horrendous winter conditions in the rugged mountains. When the war ended, they returned to a village so ravaged by the Germans that, today, the town has less than two hundred citizens and remains in a dilapidated state.
In this memoir, Ruscitti visits Cansano for the first time with his family, including parents Emiliano and Maria. As he walks Cansano’s cobblestones, his father’s stories and life are illuminated by the town piazza, the steep valley, and the surrounding mountains. He relives the tales of his parents’ struggles during World War II, their extreme post-war misery and poverty, their budding romance after, and their decision to immigrate to the US in search of the American Dream.
Ruscitti’s adventure is not just an exploration of his homeland but reveals what family, culture, wisdom, and love really means. And what our heritage really tells us about who we are.