Antonio De Santis

Antonio De Santis, Toto to his friends, was born in Larino. He passed away in the early part of 2014 and will be missed in the town he loved so much  Each year he returned to his town, motivated by that powerful nostalgia which draws so many of his compatriots home.  He had considerable talents as a poet and as an artist.  In this section of the site we read his words and see his vision of his beloved community.

Long time residents of the town may recall that Toto's father owned the cinema during the war years.  Today the townspeople know that he and his wife, Franca, had come from Genova to spend time in the community of his birth.  Franca, proudly, hailed from the nearby community of Montoria.  They met when they were children.  Their's was a love match.

To my mind, Toto had exceptional gifts as a writer and as an artist.  What follows, in Italian, the dialect of Larino, and in English translation, are his thoughts on returning to the place he was born.

                      LARINO by Antonio De Santis

Cara Larino!  Sei il mio paese,

Mi piaci tanto, come un figlio.

Di te voglio parlare

Sperando di saperlo fare.

Per me è un canto di piacere,

Un canto di respetto come per la bandiera.

 

Dear Larino!  You are my home town,

I love you very much, like a son.

I want to speak with you.

I hope you understand what I have to say.

For me this is a song of joy,

A song of respect, like my respect for our national flag.

This Painting is based on a Pilone photograph

 

Cara Larino! Sei un’incanto

E l’amore che ho per te è tanto.

Con gl’occhi vedo una meraviglia

E il cuore si rallegra.

Pure se stai in un fosso

Mi fai vernire i brividi fino alle ossa.

 

Precious Larino!  You are incredibly beautiful.

And the love I have for you is incomprehensible.

With my eyes I see you as  something marvellous

And my heart is strengthened.

They say you are in a deep valley

But for me your beauty is in my very blood.

 

 

Sto lontano,

Ma col pensiero ti guardo

E mille e più recordi

Giorno dopo giorno

Diventano un tormento.

Ma un tormento che mi piace.

 

I live far away,

But my thoughts are with you

A thousand and more memories

Day after day

Become painful

But it  is always a torment which is sweet. 

Quando, per poco tempo, ti vengo a trovare

Pure per la viuzze vado a girare

Perchè tutto voglio rivedere

E nulla voglio scordare

La contentezza è tanta

E la mente non deve remanere vuota.

 

When, for a short time, I come to find

Those recollections I search everywhere

Because I want to remember everything.

The pleasure is great

And it is impossible for my mind to remain a void. 

Vado nella parte bassa, giu per la siliciata,

Dove ho visto troppe case abbandonate.

Vado alla “fondebball”

Dove andavano a bere somari e cavalli,

Vado di cuà e di là senza premura

Ma piano piano la gioia cresce.

 

I go to the lower part of town

When I see many abandoned houses.

I go to the old fountain

Where the animals used to drink

I go to the confines of the community

And bit by bit my joy increases. 

 

Mi fermo un po’

Per sentire la campana ghe suona.

All’improvviso uno stormo di piccioni

Scappa per quel forte suono.

Zitto Zitto penso a quello che ho visto

Poi mi emoziono e perdo il lume della ragione

 

I stop for a moment

To listen to the thunderous bell which sounds

All at once a cloud of pigeons

Escape from that incredible ringing

Quietly I think of who might have seen me

And my emotions are lost in the light of my apprehension.

 

Ora vado nella parte superiore,

Sull piano della Madonna.

Qui un vecchio ricordo mi fa ridere.

Con due compagni, come me strafottenti,

Con i fichisecchi abbiamo riempito

Di una macchina, il tubo di scappamento

 

Now I walk to the higher level

On the “piano della Madonna”.

Here an old memory makes me laugh.

With two friends, who wanted to play a trick,

We filled the exhaust tube of a car

With dried figs. 

Nascosti dietro ad una viuzza

Abbiamo aspettato per vedere

Come andava a finire quell marachella.

Quando il padrone ha messo in moto

Quella mitragliata di fichisecchi

Ci ha fatto pisciare sotto dalle risate.

 

We hid in a place where we could see everything

And we waited to find out what would happen

When the owner would start the engine

And there would be an explosion of dried fruit. 

Finalmente mi trovo in via Cluenzio

La via delle passeggiate,

La via della compagnia

E di tante scappatelle.

Da giovane era la via dell’allegria

Ora è la via della malinconia.

 

Finally I find in Via Cluenzio

The road once crowded by scores of couples.

The road of companionship

And of many good times.

In my youth it was the street of great pleasure.

Now it is a place of loneliness and  melancholy. 

Passeggio, penso, guardo.

L’idea si fissa, la mente si annebbia.

Scivola la notte, piano se ne va.

Il canto di un gallo il cielo mi fa guardare

Cosi vedo che si è acceso il sole

E si sono spente le stelle.

 

I walk, think, and look at everything.

The sense of loneliness is in my thoughts, but the mind is misty.

The night passes, very slowly.

With the cry of a rooster I once again see the sky

Once more I see the light of the sun.

And the stars have disappeared.

 

Cominicia un altro giorno, esco da casa

E subito vedo il Palazzo,

Il Monumento, la Fontananuova, la piazza

Intorno tante colline, tanti colori

Mi mettono la contentezza nel cuore

E la volontà di continuare a curiosare.

 

Another day has begun and I leave my house.

Immediately I see the Palazzo,

The monument, the Fontananuova, la piazza.

Around me there are the hills, and a startling array of colours

I have a feeling of contentment

And I have the will to continue my journey..

 

Comincia la sera e la luna d’argento

Fa risaltare la bellezza della Cattedrale.

La mente si riempie di fantasia

E, per come l’uomo fa le cose, mi rallegro.

Di fronte, un’opera d’arte, la Torre

Che damina il paese e i dintorni.

 

As the evening begins the moon is silver

It illuminates the beauty of the cathedral

My mind is full of fantasies:

The façade of the cathedral, a work of art; and the Tower

Which dominates the town and the surroundings.

 

Cara Larino, per quella bella cattedrale

Ti fai sempre guardare.

Ma pure per il Palazzo e per la Torre

Ti fai sempre ricordare.

Eri importante tanti secoli fa

Ma, per me, sei importante pure adesso.

 

Dear Larino, for that splendid cathedral

Which can be looked at forever.

And for the Palazzo and for the Tower

I will always remember that

You were important countless centuries ago

But, for me, you have inestimable importance at this very moment.

 

Now return HOME, or learn about THE CHILD OF DEATH, the CATHEDRAL, Larino's saints - PRIMIANO, FIRMIANO, AND CASTO, a church devoted to THE VIRGIN MARY, and discover the wisdom of Larino's PROVERBS. 

Few people who pass the splendid facade of the Cathedral know of its incredible history.  Learn the SECRETS OF THE CATHEDRAL. 

For comments on this page contact Dr. Robert Gardner at rgardner@ryerson.ca