Aprigliano CemeteryAprigliano Cemetery - gallery - Aprigliano hugs the northern slope of the Crati valley. And the cemetery sits opposite on the the south-western ridge. It sits at the entrance to the valley. It's the landmark left-turn when driving the S178 to Aprigliano. One of my earliest memories is of being on a bus and going to the cemetery for November 2 - All Souls Day.

The people of Aprigliano have a very strong attachment to their cemetery, to those that lived on this mountain-side before them, to those that tamed the deep forests and created a living space. I too go there to find my grandmother, her sister and her sister's husband. (I lived with my aunt and her husband when I was a junior in college and waiting to start school in Perugia.) They were the WWII generation that my parents left behind for the wilds and winters of Canada.

I visited the cemetery several times and after the initial pilgrimage to family graves, I began to look at the architecture of this holy ground, at the artisan cruciforms that marked the tombs, at the symmetry of the new mausoleums, at the simplicity of the old graves, at the pictures of all those buried on this mountain top in Calabria.


Death-photographProspect Cemetery - gallery - The cemetery, on St. Clair West, is in the heart of the old Italian neighborhood in Toronto's west end. This is the area where my grandparents moved after they had made enough money to get out of the College Street immigrant ghetto.

The initial drive-through was disappointing. I had come expecting it to be full of Italian surnames. Frustrated, I went to the cemetery office. The receptionist was somber, but helpful. She explained there were many Italian families, but most were buried in the new outdoor mausolea. The term refers to the marble structures cluttering the landscape.

I found that here too my parents' generation has moved away from in-ground burials to the stipetto. Stipetto is the diminutive of stipo which is the Italian for shelf. The current trend is to bury people in these narrow crypt-shelves.

What I really wanted to shoot were the funeral-photos that adorn the stipetti. The photograph in my parents' house of my paternal-grandmother, who died in 1931, is her death-photograph, the same photo that is on her grave in Aprigliano. Poor people took photographs when a family member died and that photo was used on the grave.

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