Giovanni and Maria “Marietta” Macchione, Sewickley, PA
Born in Falerna, Italy, Province of Catanzaro, Calabria
Immigrated to United States 1962
Walking through the Macchione’s ornate iron gate hinged between stone pillars is like stepping back in time.
Every inch of the expansive corner lot is filled with the elements of a classic, old school Italian American vegetable garden.
Fruit and nut trees dominate the side yards. Two large, meticulously maintained vegetable gardens span most of the backyard. A chicken coop abuts the garage. Rain barrels collect water from the roofs of the house and garage. The grape arbor links the house to one of the spacious gardens. La Madonna watches over a small herb and flower patch near the outside basement door and fig trees are everywhere.
When the opportunity arose for The Italian Garden Project™ to partner with the Village Garden Club of Sewickley to document a classic Italian American garden for the Smithsonian’s Archives of American Gardens, the Macchione garden was the perfect choice. Not only would it serve as a study in Italian American garden design, but Marietta and Giovanni would be ideal resources for revealing a way of life that revolves around the garden and helping put into context how this lifestyle developed.
Marietta enjoys telling stories about growing up in Italy during and after WWII and sharing her experiences as a young wife and mother before she and her family emigrated in 1962. She describes in vivid detail the life she knew, recalling step by step, the process by which the wheat she planted became the bread she baked in the forno, and how the flax she grew became the linens she embroidered for her trousseau or ”il corredo della sposa”.
Both Marietta and Giovanni graciously welcome us on our many visits, patiently answering our endless questions and generously sharing their vast gardening knowledge.