Brothers-in-law Francesco and Vincenzo,
Both born in Maeirato, Province of Vibo Valentia, Calabria, Italy
Immigrated to United States in 1972
The Morningside section of Pittsburgh has a vibrant Italian American community with many of its residents hailing from Maierato, Italy. The patron saint of Maierato, San Rocco, is honored every August with a traditional Italian church festival. After Mass, on the Sunday closest to August 16, the feast of San Rocco, his statue is carried through the streets of the neighborhood, stopping at various homes along the way to recite prayers and pin monetary offerings to the white satin sash flowing from the staff that he carries.
Other traditions have been preserved here as well. A bocce court behind the church hosts nightly league play for both men’s and women’s teams throughout the summer. Behind the bocce court is an extensive garden space where a dozen or more individual garden plots cover almost an acre.
Brothers-in-law Francesco and Vincenzo are next door neighbors in a triplex on a quiet street in Morningside. Francesco is married to Sarah, Vincenzo’s sister. Vincenzo and his wife Maria live in the middle home of the triplex while Sarah and Vincenzo’s sister Caterina live in the third home. The back porches of the homes are lined in a row and covered with one long continuous arbor that, in the summer, is laden with vining fruits and vegetables growing from the three families’ adjacent communal garden that fills the entire length of the three homes.
Francesco and Vincenzo also have garden plots behind the bocce courts. Not only are they skilled and knowledgeable gardeners, but Sarah, Maria, and Caterina are equally skilled bakers and cooks who know how to make the many traditional dishes of their region and are kind enough to share their recipes with us.