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Giovanni & Maria Macchione

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Posted by on Jan 15, 2013

Giovanni Macchione portraitMarietta Macchione portrait

Giovanni and Maria “Marietta” Macchione, Sewickley, PA

Born in Falerna, Italy, Province of Catanzaro, Calabria

Immigrated to United States 1962


Walking through the Macchione’s ornate iron gate hinged between stone pillars is like stepping back in time.Macchione house


Every inch of the expansive corner lot is filled with the elements of a classic, old school Italian American vegetable garden.Grape arbor

Fruit and nut trees dominate the side yards. Two large, meticulously maintained vegetable gardens span most of the backyard. A chicken coop abuts the garage.  Rain barrels collect water from the roofs of the house and garage. The grape arbor links the house to one of the spacious gardens.  La Madonna watches over a small herb and flower patch near the outside basement door and fig trees are everywhere.

Garden Madonna
 When the opportunity arose for The Italian Garden Project™ to partner with the Village Garden Club of Sewickley to document a classic Italian American garden for the Smithsonian’s Archives of American Gardens, the Macchione garden was the perfect choice.  Not only would it serve as a study in Italian American garden design, but Marietta and Giovanni would be ideal resources for revealing a way of life that revolves around the garden and helping put into context how this lifestyle developed. Giovanni braiding onions

Marietta enjoys telling stories about growing up in Italy during and after WWII and sharing her experiences as a young wife and mother before she and her family emigrated in 1962. She describes in vivid detail the life she knew, recalling step by step, the process by which the wheat she planted became the bread she baked in the forno, and how the flax she grew became the linens she embroidered for her trousseau or ”il corredo della sposa”.Maria greeting guests

Both Marietta and Giovanni graciously welcome us on our many visits, patiently answering our endless questions and generously sharing their vast gardening knowledge.

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Comments (9)

  1. Jacqueline K. Mazza:
    Jun 04, 2013 at 09:46 PM

    I, too, have beautiful linens that my mother-in-law made from home-grown flax, woven and embroidered with love. Also silk bedspreads from the cocoons of her own herd of silk worms which she fed mulberry leaves from her own tree. She spun the silk but sent it to be commercially woven in a tapestry pattern. The fringes are hand-tied silk macramé. She was quite the artist: Angelina Rosa Francesca Falvo Mazza. They lived in San Pietro Apostolo, Calabria. May she and all like her rest in peace!


    1. Mary:
      Jun 11, 2013 at 04:07 AM

      These heirloom treasures carry with them a powerful connection to the past. The materials from which they were created evoke a visible, tangible connection to the earth, in a time before the anonymity of mass produced food and goods broke our connection with nature. They also recall the individual whose hands and mind so carefully and thoughtfully worked each thread, creating a lasting memento of their personal style and skills. How lucky that your mother-in-law's linens ended up in the care of someone who recognizes and appreciates them for the works of art and history that they are.


  2. Stacey Etherson:
    Jul 25, 2014 at 08:37 PM

    Hello, Falerna? I would love to hear stories of Falerna, what life was like and how what was grown in their gardens. I believe family came from Falerna yet I am still not positive. Stacey.


  3. Mary Lou Folino:
    Nov 03, 2014 at 03:36 PM

    My maiden name is Mashione. . the Italian spelling was Macchione. . . .I was surprised to see this name and am wondering if there is any connections. . my family is from Calabria as well.


    1. Mary:
      Nov 03, 2014 at 08:48 PM

      The Macchiones are from a town in Calabria called Falerna in the province of Catanzaro. Do you know which town or province your family is from?


      1. Mary Lou (Mashione) Folino:
        Nov 06, 2014 at 03:54 PM

        Thank you Mary for the response. . I know that my family is all from Calabria but I think the providence was Nocera. It just really struck me when I saw that spelling as the name is not that common


        1. Mary:
          Nov 09, 2014 at 10:44 PM

          Nocera is a neighboring town of Falerna. It is possible that there is a family connection, but it may go back many generations.


  4. Joe Roberti:
    Jan 04, 2015 at 05:26 PM

    My mother's parents were from Calabria. Santa Maria de Catanzaro. I still have cousins I keep in touch with via facebook. Is that anywhere near?


    1. Mary:
      Feb 13, 2015 at 12:07 PM

      Joe, it looks like Santa Maria di Catanzaro is about 62 kilometers from Falerna where the Macchiones are from, about a 50 mnute drive east. Both are in the same province of Catanzaro.


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