Memoir Under the Fig Tree

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Francesco Paolo Scafidi and Luigi Cala
Francesco Paolo Scafidi and Luigi Cala

Hearing From Readers. . .
Your story is my story.

What a remarkable story you wrote. I marvel at your research, your diligence, your soul-searching and your ability to portray such a poignant upbringing! I would have read the book in one sitting but as midnight approached I needed to put it down and finish the next day. You brought me to tears, to laughter, to reflection, and to a knowledge that your story was my story and the story of hundreds of other immigrant children.

—Bob Caggige, St. Albans, VT

Thank you for sharing your family's story. Your book is a beautiful depiction of your Italian heritage, and your Vermont heritage too! Molto Grazie.

—Senator Patrick Leahy United States Senate, Washington, D.C.

Just leafing through your book, I look at the pictures and think it could be my family! The faces, the sense of these people, and perhaps even our respective families' stories, are so familiar.

—Lynne Rossetto Kasper, Host, The Splendid Table, National Public Radio

Your research is impeccable and the rich details of your ancestry - the people, places, and, especially, the food - are exquisite and make me hunger for my own family's conversation and comfort food.

—Maria Mazziotti Gillan, Executive Director, The Poetry Center, Patterson, NJ

As a first-generation American growing up in an immigrant neighborhood in New York, "Under A Fig Tree" resonated with me on many levels. Your prose was a pleasure to read: clear, direct, and wonderfully descriptive without being flowery. Brava, Sandy!

—Paul Calter, Professor Emeritus, Vermont Technical College

Giovana Delpopolo
Giovana Delpopolo

Although I think I'm a generation before you, I still can't believe the parallels in our lived experiences. On the one hand, it sounds as though we haven't moved culturally; on the other, I think there's a strong note of affirmation of our Sicilian culture. Reading your book was and is a real delicious experience and a great source of reference, as well as inspiration. Mille grazie.

—Yolanda Coppolino, Scarborough, Ontario, Canada

Your book caused me to relive the parts of my childhood growing up in Brooklyn during the 1950s with my extended family. The food and stories you described were similar to mine. Your book also brought back memories that I had forgotten. Great job!

—Mark Hehl, Woodbury, CT

Reading your book brought back good memories of my childhood spent with my own Bisnonna, and from the time I lived in Sicily. Some of the chapters made me so homesick for bedda di Sicilia that I actually cried while reading. Tanti Auguri.

—Frances Boccio Natividad, Alexandria, VA

Your book is beautifully, wonderfully written. It touches all of us with immigrant experiences.

—Gail Rosenberg, Burlington, VT

I guess they call these things "fan letters." This one is for you - the only one I have ever written. Thank you for writing this book, a wonderful lovely homage to your family and a vanished life. My favorite part is the inclusion of the photographs of people, especially the women. The pictures of Maria Concetta and Giovanna Delpopolo are simply stunning. Those faces—haunting! There are just no more faces like that.

—Bill Vargas, Rutland, VT

I'm re-reading your book and I find myself lost in so many memories. We made your Nana's pasta stuffing for Thanksgiving. My grandchildren loved it and my children remembered their Nona making it whenever we were able to visit for the holidays. I baked Italian cookies for two days; they vanished like magic. Thank you, Sandy, for such a heartwarming and beautiful memoir. You've done what I've always wanted to do for myself, our family, and all the third and fourth generations.

—Joanne D'Orazio, Destin, FL

I think anyone who reads this book will have tears in their eyes, some from laughter and some from the memories hidden in the back of their minds. I was up until 2 a.m. reading it and loved every minute.

—Lucy Notte, Rutland, VT

Your gift as a writer and our shared heritage compelled me to read your story from cover to cover over a few days at the expense of all other material in my current reading stack. By the time I finished the Scafidi family was my extended family! Thank you for writing and publishing "Under A Fig Tree," an important cultural contribution to the story of the Italian immigration at the turn of the last century. I certainly recognized and loved your Nana.

—Edwin Granai, Author, Burlington, VT

It's a snowy, blowy afternoon over the harbor, but the smells from your Nana's manercia are filling the house. I am going to make the pasta e fagioli next. Thank you for the wonderful recipes in your book. Mazel Tov!

—Liz Barron, Gloucester, MA

The Sisters of St. Joseph, Rutland, Vermont
The Sisters of St. Joseph, Rutland, Vermont

"Congratulations for your outstanding book. "Under a Fig Tree" evidences a great sense of time, people, and place. I more than approve of the chapter on the Sisters of St. Joseph. I am touched. You capture their presence, faith, values, work, spirit and legacy so well. Your book is extraordinary as a chronicle of a family and of a way of life.

–Sister Mary E. Harvey, Rutland, VT

"I so thoroughly enjoyed reading "Under A Fig Tree" - a magnificent tribute to your family and a story that transcends time, location, nationality and religion. I grew up in Rochester, New York amongst many Italian-American friends. My grandparents had all passed away before I was born but I never lacked for that special granddaughter experience that you so eloquently described.

—Ann Shopmyer, Houston, TX

"I purchased your book "Under A Fig Tree" just before Christmas for myself and haven't been able to put it down since. I made the Mussettes for New Year's Eve. I haven't had them since my older Italian aunts passed away.

—John Romano, Rutland, VT

"What a lot of hard work and research went into your re-creation of the story of your family. For me, there is a special appeal in the more 'memoirish' sections, which tell of relationships, such as your relationship with your grandmother; the story about Shirley, the sketches of the Scafidi sisters; and other passages to which I could personally relate. Thank you, Sandy, for joining the ranks of impressive Vermont authors, and for allowing me the opportunity to learn of the joys and trials of leaving one's home for 'the land of opportunity.'

—Idora Tucker, Randolph, VT

"I LOVED your book. I smiled, laughed, remembered and cried. Thank you.

— Stan Palluto, Burlington, VT

"I just finished reading your book and couldn't resist writing to tell you that I thoroughly enjoyed it . a fascinating story that was well-written and easy to read. I was struck by the fact that your grandparents didn't ever see their families again after they left Sicily. It makes perfect sense, given the times, but that's one aspect of immigration that I hadn't previously thought about.

— R. Jay Conant, Ph.D., Professor of Engineering,
Daniel Webster College, Nashua, NH

"I just finished your book - and I loved it! I think there is a Pulitzer in it for you. So many memories and such a fine piece of writing. A la famiglia!

—Frank Cotrupi, Newport News, VA

"I enjoyed so much becoming a part of your wonderful family for a short while! My family was very waspish - as in white, Anglo-Saxon, and Protestant - but what you wrote was familiar, nonetheless. My daughter married into a large and loving Polish family, and your writing resonates with what I've experienced of that, as well.

—Betty Edson, Randolph, VT

"I just finished reading your book and wanted to tell you that I just couldn't put it down!!! I finished it in two days and was thinking about it, even when I wasn't reading it. You have proven what a great storyteller you are!

—Michele Pietryka Pagan, Washington, DC

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