Thank goodness for the sight of Vesuvio in the distance giving us the occasional reminder that we are in Italia. I know it may sound weird, but sometimes I find it difficult to tell that we are even in Italy while being in lockdown on this military base. Most everyone is American, all the buildings look the same, you can’t see any surrounding cities from inside, and it’s not really obvious from looking at the mountains in the other directions that those are Italian mountains. We could be anywhere. Yet, if we look closely there are two neat finds that serve as a reminder that we are in fact here, and one of them sits somewhere between the cold medicine and the laundry detergent- you just have to look down! Inside the NEX and commissary stores you can stand over history and see the remains of ancient ruins at your feet!! In the commissary, what you see below are the ruins of an ancient Roman bakery, whereas, near the hardware in the NEX you can see the remains of an archeological well.
The other reminder sits outside in the far back of the military base. If it weren’t for the stairwell hinting that something is below, it would just look like a bunch of tangly bushes surrounded by a fence. But it’s what you see over that fence that reminds us that we are in Italy- a Roman burial site. When construction crews began working on the future military site in the mid 1990’s, they began uncovering artifacts. Now, it’s not uncommon to dig in Italy and find something, so sometimes it’s what you find that counts. Among the discoveries here in Gricignano, 93 Bronze Age tombs occupied by the remains and possessions of their owners were excavated. Things like amber necklaces, to pottery, and a finely carved Egyptian pendant were discovered. Today those artifacts are displayed in an archeological museum in a nearby town called Succivo. “The Bronze Age settlement at Gricignano was itself fleeting, according to archeologists, who date it to the last three decades of the eighth century B.C. Villagers farmed and traded their surplus with coastal communities, including early Greek colonies at Ischia and Cuma. They had contact with the sea-going Phoenicians and traded for items as far abroad as Egypt and Syria.” The upper floor of the local museum exhibits items removed from the tombs excavated at the Navy site; the lower floor is devoted to artifacts from the surrounding communities, including some dating back to the 18th century B.C. We have yet to visit this museum because Covid has not been in our favor but one day I hope to see what was once here before us.
Our roots will forever be from here, America, born and raised. Yet, life requires us to move more frequently than we care to count. Whether living stateside or abroad, you can always find us traveling somewhere. We scout out places that you only think you can dream of one day seeing and we seek out those that aren’t found in guidebooks. We then bring them to life here in our travel memos, so hopefully, one day you too can visit them or at least be able to live vicariously through us. This blog isn’t just about crossing off places from a bucket list. It’s about absorbing and learning how other cultures grow and fit into the same world that we do. Life is short and the world is big. Enjoy and get out there!