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Tales from the Tirol – Part 3 of 6

May 30, 2014

This is the third installment of Tales from the Tirol.

If you follow this blog, you know I am not a one trick pony; that is to say, I do not write continuously and exclusively in one genre. My fifty plus years as a  professional author have produced diverse material that has included poetry, music lyrics, drama, short stories and non-fiction pieces spanning subjects from ancient coins to surfing. However, all of this writing has had one thing in common: it has all been presented in the English language to a largely American readership.

When my wife Rachel and I moved to the South Tirol region of Italy, our first task was to gain linguistic parity, or at least competency in our new languages of Italian, German and Nones. German was no sweat as I had been a bilingual English-German reader, speaker and writer for decades. Italian and our local dialect of Nones were on the other hand hard languages to master all in one blow. We tried, we failed and we tried again.  Okay, let’s be honest. Italian wasn’t that hard to learn as we both spoke Spanish. But we found Nones to be near impossible to learn. It is a language that is chiefly constructed of ancient, vulgar, mountain Latin with influences of what other languages various past conquerors spoke. We tried, we failed and we tried again. Gradually we got a handle on Nones and included it in our daily conversations with merchants and friends alike.

Again, I am a writer. However, I found that writing in English while living in the Tirol had huge limitations, headed by a lack of readership. So I did what any writer would, I suppose; I began writing in German and Italian, leaving my rusty Nones for conversation encounters in bars, restaurants and friends’ houses. I wrote a great deal of poetry in Italian and local newspaper articles and the like in German. Hell, I was getting pretty good at this language stuff!

Feeling a bit bolder, I took on more complex writing tasks. I translated a few menus for local restaurants in and out of English, German and Italian and even did genealogy lectures and written presentations in all three languages as well. Now I was feeling downright heady. Why not write a whole book in Italian? It was an interesting thought but I needed a good, localized subject of interest. I finally found the right one. An ancient cemetery had been relocated in 1933 in my family’s home village of Cloz which sits a bit further down the valley from our home in Tret. After the relocation, 36 remaining gravestones were put onto a wall next to the main church as a sort of historical monument. Among these were those of my grandfather who died at 38 years of age and my aunt who died at 14. I commenced work on the book in 2006, incorporating a great deal of genealogical research into the examination and recommended restoration of the 36 grave markers. By 2008, the book was done and titled Nell’Ombra di Santo Stefano – Le Vecchie Lapidi di Cloz. The Tirol, especially the Italian speaking component, had been taken care of faithfully I thought.

Flash forward to our return to the United States in 2009. I was pleased to learn that many people in the United States and especially those with family roots in Cloz wanted my book…. But in English! The requests grew and finally in 2011, I began to retranslate the entire text back into English from Italian. You wouldn’t think that this task would be a problem for a native English speaker but it turned out to be a mammoth task involving subtleties of language only hinted at in my college days. Ouch! I could hear the rusty cogs in my head crunching off the rust. Finally in March of 2013, the book was released on Amazon.com in English with the new title: In the Shadow of Saint Stephen – The Old Grave Markers of Cloz. It has been remarkably popular considering what was initially written for a very small audience. If you have family from Cloz or you are just plain curious, give it a read.  Penso che vi piacerà!

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This book is available on Amazon.com as an e-book for only $3.99. The print version will be available internationally in the fall of 2014. You can reach me anytime at www.allenrizzi.weebly.com where you can also find a complete book listing and other information.

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