I tried to do a little research and internet work to give me a sense of place and time for Richard Hugo's book. I was struck by how important it was for him to go back to Italy, even 20 years later, to try to find places and memories that he could not escape. In some ways the trip is a metaphor for writing.
Here's some fun stuff about Italy, the times, the food, drinks and the cantinas he spoke of as now being lost to globalization.
Popular songs during the war:
http://youtu.be/kOO8Gzr__zc Benny Goodman song "Don't Be That Way"
http://youtu.be/j2fbOAyNOpM original Stardust by Hoagy Carmichael
http://youtu.be/DjU6ZjrQulc Stardust later made popular by Nat King Cole
Food and drinks they spoke of having in Italy
|Pasta e fagioli, meaning "pasta and beans", is a traditional meatless Italian dish, with peasant roots. Now in vogue in all social classes.|
|See website for more on this popular plum brandy.|
Troppo tensione. Troppo miseria. Troppo fame. means "Too much fear. Too much misery. Too much hunger."
come mio fratello means "like a brother"
Places and Maps
|Huge stone church in Cerignola.|
From the 460th Bomb Group historian, writing about Spinazzola:
"Records show that Spinazzola existed as far back as the third century B.C. It was situated along the Roman road known as the Appian Way, which extended from Rome to the port city of Brindisi on the southern Italian coast. Opened in 321 B.C.,this road was built to connect Rome with the southern provinces of the peninsula, with Africa and the East. One could travel from Rome to Brindisi in 13/14 days. It is probable that most who served with the 460th Bomb Group (H) were unaware that the narrow, dusty tree-lined road that ran along the north side of the 460th air base was so historically significant."
|This was Boeing Plant 2 and the company actually built it to look like a village from the air to keep it from getting bombed.|
|B-17 Flying Fortress, the most famous product of these Boeing wartime plants.|