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John Palcewski's Journal

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When Vittoria was an infant, Nonna looked deep into her eyes and said, "This one will be a handful."

They lived in Buonopane, a small village on the steep slopes of the southern part of the island, overlooking the immense black rock of Sant Angelo and its harbor where fishing boats bobbed in the water.

Not too far from their villa was the ancient hot spring of Nitrodi, where Etruscans, Greeks and Romans came for cures. Her father's terraced vineyards were a half a kilometer below the spring, accessible only by a narrow path through wild grasses, violets, and bright yellow sorrel. Stands of cane that looked like cornstalks--but were two, three times taller--rustled on the slopes.

All the dirt roads and footpaths of Buonopane and surrounding areas of the Barano region were steep, narrow, winding, and extremely dangerous. A misstep, and you would plunge down hundreds of meters to rocks at the bottom of vertical cliffs.

Which is why Giovanni, Vittoria's father, refused to buy her a bicycle. She pleaded, but he would not change his mind. "Too dangerous for a little girl," he said. But her brother Giacomo, hardly a year older, raced like a maniac down those steep, curving roads. Why wasn't it too dangerous for him? Vittoria was so angry at her father that she ran off to a remote part of the vineyard, and in a crumbling old stone shed found an empty wine barrel, where she hid.

Alfredo, a school mate, had agreed to bring her bread and cheese and small bottles of mineral water. Each day he whispered news of the great distress of her father and mother and brothers, and the rest of them, and the alarm that had spread over the entire island. Everyone was looking for her, all the farmers and stonemasons and shopkeepers. Even fishermen in their boats studied the rock-lined shore.

After three days Vittoria decided it was time to reappear. She expected to be punished, locked in her room for weeks, or worse. But no. After all, she was alive! Everyone had thought she was dead.

At first her father's weeping frightened her. But then later that night, in the darkness of her room, she smiled.

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Kids can be really cruel just for ignorance or fun.

Very sunny picture :)

Have you ever wanted to save a story to read until later? I think I did this with your journal, and am now going from beginning to end to be lost in the words.

And I am very much enjoying this, thank you for sharing it.

Many thanks for your interest, I very much appreciate your generous words.

BTW, I was struck by this letter:

September 19, 2002


I know I have made some very big mistakes. I don't even know how to begin to explain. I hate myself for letting it happen. I hate myself for not trying harder. All I ever wanted was to make you proud... but instead, all I’ve ever done is disappoint you.


This is sad, isn't it? Whatever happened to the notion that a parent owes his or her children unconditional love & support?

You are most welcome.

I was struck by this letter as well. It really bothered me.

When I sent out the publication notification letter, I almost wrote her to tell her "don't be so hard on yourself" :(

Because I was thinking what has this poor girl done that is so horrible that she would think her father would be so disappointed?

Reading between the lines I get the feeling that Dr. Dad, Ph.D., always presents his daughter a moving target. The idea is to keep changing the things that will ostensibly please him. But maybe he's not that sophisticated, and is merely a jerk!

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