Come to Italy with me ...

Come to Italy with me ... OK, not me exactly, but with The Evening Sun. Starting Monday, we’ll be publishing a five-part series by Norwich resident Mary Musson, titled “Come to Italy With Me.”

Let’s leave politics, economic woes and every day frustrations behind for a least a week and go to a sunny place on the Adriatic Sea, exploring together how another culture lives, works and plays.

Mary is a gifted and generous writer who can transport our readers with her descriptive and intimate writing. Four years ago, we published a week-long series Mary wrote for us on another trip to Italy, and it was one of the most well-received pieces we’ve run in recent memory. Trust me, when people stop me in the grocery store to tell me how much they’ve enjoyed something, you know it’s good. When Mary approached me a couple weeks ago with the idea for another package, I jumped at the chance. As with Don Windsor’s “Souvenirs of Yesteryear” or Jim Dunne’s “Y Giants” series, giving good local writers space in the newspaper for a unique idea is something I love to do – and something you readers seem to appreciate as well.

Next week’s series will introduce us to what Mary calls “immersion travel,” which has tourists living like the locals. The articles will take us to Mary’s ancestral home, Molfetta, in a region of southern Italy called Puglia. What was once a fishing village on the Adriatic Sea is today a bustling modern city of 60,000 residents. Its antiquity is well preserved, as exemplified by the medieval walled city in which Mary rents a house and shows us how to live as Italians. We’ll follow her around town for a day meeting friends and neighbors, visit several schools and learn about the challenges of the town’s fishing industry. We will also join her on several regional day trips in an article called “My Puglia.” Of special interest will be a visit to several UNESCO’s world heritage sites near Molfetta. These special places are protected areas of the world considered to be of outstanding value to humanity.

We are pleased that Mary, a consummate professional in the field of writing, is sharing this series with us. We’re not surprised at the quality of the work. She has had a respected relationship with this newspaper for many years. Her feature articles on a wide range of subjects have been insightful, often humorous and always interesting. She is also well known as an expert on Norwich’s Victorian era and her three well-researched architectural-historical walking tours of Norwich have repeatedly been published by this paper. They are so timeless and informative that the City of Norwich recently reprinted them in brochure form through a Council of the Arts Decentralization Grant. Do yourself a favor, pick them up at the library and treat your family and visiting house guests to a grand tour of our city as the Victorians designed it.

Mary, who says she “reluctantly” came to Norwich straight out of graduate school some 30 years ago when she married a local man, has become one of this community’s greatest cheerleaders. “I just love this place,” she says. “There’s just something about small-town America which is so endearing. It’s the way people care about each other and keep fully informed about each other’s joys and sadness. I suppose it reminds me a lot of my Italian hometown which has a high population density but still remains small-town at heart. I’ve moved around a bit in my life, but Chenango County remains the place I have lived the longest and where my husband and I chose to raise our children. I’m glad I came.”

So are we. Thanks for the people, places, and ideas you’ve brought back to us through your writing and wonderful photos. I’m looking forward to seeing this series unfold on our Community page next week. Don’t miss an issue!

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