Who are you?
Angie Salerno. Born in Toronto, moved to Frigento at the age of 19. English teacher.
How does your day look like?
‘When I wake up in the morning, I go to a public school to teach English. In the afternoon I give private lessons to people, certification for Cambridge, to prepare them for exams’.
Is it possible to find work in your area?
‘For me it is easy to find work but my friend in Gesualdo (Irpinia) has a degree in English and German but she can’t find work. Although, I had to make an effort: I taught 7 years at different schools in Italy to get my teachers degree. I did not get paid for this, the school only gave me some money towards my pension. Now I teach for 4 years with a teacher’s degree’.
What do you think of the situation in Frigento / Southern Italy?
‘The situation is critical. So many teenagers leave to go abroad to find work. Only in summer it is alive. July and August and then there are lots of festivals. Many people have houses in Frigento without living there. I also have a house in the centre (not where she is living in now with her husband). But there are also many houses for sale this period. To keep a second house, you pay a lot of taxes, that is a state law’.
Describe family life in Frigento (Southern Italy)
‘Compared to other countries here you are together. Maybe in other countries you see each other perhaps once a year, here more often: birthdays, festivals etc. You gather together because family is important’.
‘Italian weddings are different: the procedure, you go to church, the choice of restaurant is important, good food, it will cost a lot of money. The dress, flowers and restaurant will be discussed and criticized by everybody. And the occasion will last till 3, 4, even 5 in the morning. Nowadays you will make use of a wedding planner, personalised invitations. It is a big business. Especially for restaurants. If you want to survive as a restaurant you ‘do’ weddings. Traditions are still strong in the south. Especially in villages. For example, in Salerno you could live together as a couple, in small towns it will be seen as a shame because the tradition is to get married’.
‘Life here has positive and negative sides. The downside is that there is a lot of gossip (in village life). At the hairdresser, post office and bars. If you want to know something, you can find out at the local bar. There is lots of information about people in these places. I go to the hairdresser in Grottaminarda for that matter’.
‘Positive sides are that village life is fun, relaxing and calming. 15th of August is a holiday in Frigento, a festival. So many people come to celebrate. Furthermore, the air is clean, no pollution. In Frigento you will live a healthy life style’.
Where would you prefer to live?
‘Being in Italy without my parents (I lost both of them) I find comfort by living with my family around. They care. People in the village and my family look after me. I lost my father when I was 13, and my mom decided to move back to Italy when I was 19. Here I graduated from university. But, I go back to Toronto every year, mostly in summer, 1 week in July’.
What would you like to change? What has to change?
‘Something needs to change for teenagers so they don’t leave. Spain is doing better than Italy at the moment. People from Venezuela move to Spain for work. Here the government has to do something’.
When do you have to bite your teeth, when are things difficult?
‘Paying the bills. Taxes are so high, more than half. But for example, in Toronto Canada, the dentist is for free. Here it is so expensive. I compare the 2 countries every day’.
‘Last summer there was no water at 9 pm. I had 7 guests from Canada over. They were in absolute shock that we had no water in the evenings’.
What does Frigento look like in 20 years time?
‘Frigento will be empty, maybe some immigrants like maids and nannies will be living here. The Romanians live here then but they take money back to their home country, the money will not stay’.