An evocative, informatve and engaging study. . . . A fascinating window into patterns of rural and local life, always keeping in mind their human elements.”
— Dr. Tommaso Astarita – University of Georgetown
With hundreds of villages dotting the southern Italian landscape, it is no surprise that Mundunur has recently been translated from English. Just published by the Gruppo Albatros Il Filo in Rome, the Italian edition brings the book’s unique perspective on the significance of a mountain village and its interrelation with southern Italy. The English edition was published only months ago by Via Media Publishing.
The author’s grandparents were born in Montenero Val Cocchiara (Mundunur) and emigrated to the USA. Readers may find the chapter on the life of Italian immigrants in the author’s hometown (Erie, PA) of particular interest. However, the main substance of the book follows an investigative way of finding out when and how Montenero was founded and has developed over the centuries. The unique investigative approach that the author takes in presenting the place of the village in history can serve as a model for discovering the evolution of other villages in the South. The writing finesse makes reading engaging and insightful.
The way of life in each village depends on its geographical location and general climate. One chapter is dedicated exclusively to the land, flora and fauna of the area. Then there is the question of when the village was formed. The first hominids of the peninsula made traces in Isernia La Pineta over 800,000 years ago, not far from Mundunur. Subsequently, the Samnite tribes and the Romans left their mark on the area. However, the earliest written reference to the village itself is recorded in the Chronicon Volturnensis of 1130 CE.
In the following centuries, invasions from the north and south played heavily on Mundunur. Official censuses carried out in 1447, 1753 and 1865 provide fascinating details about Mundunur and the lives of the dukes and servants who reside there. Eventually the southern regions ended up being subject to the forced unification of Italy. While the southerners lived on a mere subsistence level, they soon also faced two world wars. Political changes lead to rebellions and arrests in Mundunur and throughout the south. One of the solutions to the existing problems – strongly supported by the government – was emigration.
This book fills a void in local historiography for the Molise region and offers insights into the history and evolution of hundreds of small towns across the south. The history of the village can also serve as an allegory for any place in the world where the forces of history and culture forge people’s character.
Details (English edition): www.viamediapublishing.com and (Italian edition) www.mundunur.net
Via Media Publishing
Mundunur: Un paese di montagna sotto l’incantesimo del Sud Italia