NEW YORK FOLKLORE QUARTERLY
Vol. XXIII, March 1967
IL PAISANO —
IMMIGRANT ITALIAN FOLKTALES OF CENTRAL NEW YORK
THE FOLLOWING folktales were collected among Italian
immigrants who took up residence in the Syracuse area,
principally in the decades around the turn of the century
although others have arrived since the quota restrictions of the
twenties. This closely-knit band of settlers originated in the isolated
medieval village of Guardiaregia, Province of Compobasso,
high in the Abruzzi Mountains of south-central Italy.
The striking quality of these immigrants is their strong attachment
to each other, best expressed in the term paisano, for which
there is no satisfactory English equivalent. This bond between the
villagers, almost as important as a blood relationship, has been
instrumental in transferring and preserving much of their folklore
in the New World.
Together with their meager belongings, the paisanos carted
across thousands of miles their customs, beliefs, tales, and folk
cookery. Although they have improved their economic lot considerably
since their emigration and take great pride in their
American citizenship, this group has clung to its traditions with a
tenacity that has often resulted in the establishment of a microscopic
Italy within their immediate community. In order to provide
a better understanding of the background of these people,
I have included a brief description of life in the village of Guardiaregia
that is based on my observations during a visit there in
the summer of 1964....
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