Angela D’Arezzo came to the United States with her family from Gallo Matese, a village in the Campania Region of Italy, when she was ten years old. Her avid interest in the arts led her to perform in dance and theater with NTWH and Visible Theater True Story Project in New York City and Belfast, Maine. She was a spokesperson for the Muscular Dystrophy Association, a part-time model, and appeared on the cover of Quest, a Muscular Dystrophy Society publication. She was also featured in an article in NYU Physician, “Empowering Women with Disabilities,” speaking about her passion for dance and her love of the tarantella as a child in Italy.
Excerpt from Preface, The Salty Mountain
Writing a book that came to be called The Salty Mountain was a long process. It began 20 years ago, in the late 1990s, when Angela D’Arezzo had the opportunity to pursue her long held desire to participate in the arts, especially dance and theater, through the National Theater Workshop of the Handicapped. At that time, Angela asked me to choreograph a dance for her so that she could contribute to an event with NTWH, and we worked together to create a piece that she performed in her motorized wheelchair at NTWH’s black box theater on Elizabeth Street in Manhattan. Angela’s love of performing and creative expression grew, as did our friendship. What began as a way for Angela to fulfill her yearning for dance and theater, evolved into The Salty Mountain.
A chronicle of events that are humorous and deeply poignant, the book is a choreography of culture, geography and personalities, past and present, that revolve around the importance of home and family. Angela’s commitment to this project remained undaunted. I am grateful to her, as are many others, for her passion. The Salty Mountain is a tribute to Angela’s family and place of birth. It was a privilege to retrieve and write these stories and to support Angela in embracing and sharing her remarkable history.
Excerpt from Introduction, Between the Garden and the Olive Trees
Now that I am older and understand the beauty of being born and raised in a rustic village like Gallo Matese, I see what a blessing it was to live in nature surrounded by the wonder of four seasons, where everything I ate was organic, and I saw the sun shine over the garden as I looked east out the small window above our bed in the sleeping loft that I shared with my sisters. Every morning at the crack of dawn, Zia Rosa’s rooster would perch on top of the gate between her barn and our house and crow chicchirichì, chicchirichì, and I knew it was time to get up.
In the springtime, when the sparrows returned to the garden, there was a slight chirping early every morning that would grow to a melodious chorus throughout the day. The birds were busy making nests under the terra-cotta roof tiles and in between the branches of the sour plum trees. I enjoyed watching the newborns with their tiny beaks wide open, waiting to be fed, and the colorful wings of butterflies fluttering all over the garden as I tried to catch one. I was so excited when the cherry tree blossomed into a pink bouquet of flowers that eventually turned into cherries. Searching for pairs of cherries, I would remove them from the branches very carefully to make sure they didn’t come apart, place the stems over my ears, and shake my head making believe I had on dangly red earrings. The bees deposited their honey on the trunk of the cherry tree, and I scraped the honeycomb from the crust to taste the sweet gold on my fingers.
I can still hear the sound of the plums falling onto the ground from the tall trees as I ran quickly to grab one and clean it with my hands, eager for a juicy taste. Ahh, the smell of earth when it rained and the surprise of rainbows that sometimes appeared, arching from our garden into Zia ’Ngelélla’s garden. Taken with the red, orange, yellow, green, and violet glow, I stood watching long after it had disappeared hoping the rainbow would return.