The Salty Mountain
The Salty Mountain, Gallo Matese, Italy
Watercolor by Naima Rauam (14”x 20”)
About The Salty Mountain
The Salty Mountain is a biographical narrative about Angela D’Arezzo and her family who immigrated to the Bronx, New York, in 1970, when she was ten, from a mountain village near Naples, Italy. The book spans three generations of women whose stories of courage and resilience were passed down from grandmother, to mother, to daughter. Appel worked closely with D’Arezzo to reconstruct and write details of defining experiences, including WWII and immigration, from D’Arezzo’s perspective.
This chronicle of events is a deeply poignant and often humorous dance of culture, geography and personalities, past and present, revolving around the importance of home and family. D’Arezzo’s passion and commitment to this project remained undaunted and The Salty Mountain is a tribute to her family and place of birth. It was Appel’s privilege to retrieve and write these stories and support D’Arezzo in embracing and sharing her remarkable history.
Naima Rauam’s evocative watercolor painting of Gallo Matese, D’Arezzo’s hometown, was used for the cover of The Salty Mountain, and this richly illustrated book also features her distinctive black and white drawings of the Italian countryside and villages, as well as landmarks from Little Italy, the Bronx.
Illustration of Ave Gratia Plena Church in Gallo Matese by Naima Rauam
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.
Angela D’Arezzo immigrated 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.
Cathy Appel is a dancer, choreographer, clinician, writer and editor, with extensive experience in project, curriculum and program development. She has performed in many venues, such as New York City Center, The Esplanade in Boston and the Academy of Music in Philadelphia. Her writing has been published in literary and research journals, anthologies and textbooks, and she has presented her clinical and academic work nationally and internationally. She is the President/Artistic Director of Overtime Dance Foundation, Inc.
Naima Rauam is an artist who has followed her passion for place throughout a successful career. She came to New York City at 18 to study at the Art Students League where, as the result of a class assignment, she fell in love with the Fulton Fish Market. She also lived and painted in Maine for a period. She is most recognized for her watercolors of the South Street Seaport historic district and the Fulton Fish Market, which she has documented with her artwork since the mid 1960s. Her paintings are in private, corporate and public collections, including the Smithsonian Institution, National Air & Space Museum, American Merchant Marine Museum and the Farnsworth Museum.