Roads to Appalachia through the Mezzogiorno Trip Planned

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Frank and Jane Gabor West Virginia Folklife Center on the main campus of Fairmont State University and Pierpont Community & Technical College is sponsoring a study and travel abroad program in the summer of 2013 called Roads to Appalachia through the Mezzogiorno, the land of “the midday sun” between the Tyrrhenian and Ionian seas.

In collaboration with the Calabria-West Virginia Heritage Association, the study-travel excursion, planned for June 20 through July 3, 2014, will explore the regions of Campania, Calabria and Sicily in Southern Italy. Arrangements are made by National Travel of West Virginia. The experience will focus on the unique similarities between Appalachia and Southern Italy’s heritage. Participation is open to the public.

“Many Italian West Virginians can trace their cultural roots through ancestors who were part of the massive migration of labor force needed to fuel the Industrial Revolution in America at the beginning of the 20th century,” said Dr. Judy P. Byers, Director of the Folklife Center.

“As outlined in the itinerary, travelers will experience the contrasts of regional  landscapes, architecture, works of art and folklore, as well as exploring famous cities, visiting small villages and forests, eating wonderful food, seeing historical monuments and buildings and meeting artisans. At the heart of our journey are two special excursions. The first is the annual festival in honor of San Giovanni (Feast Day – June 24) in the hill town that bears his name. The second is a visitation and recruiting program to the University of Calabria, in Rende, which has a student exchange program with Fairmont State University.”

Those who enroll in the Fairmont State course FOLK 3350 Special Projects: Roads to Appalachia Study-Travel Abroad will receive three hours of college credit. The course will be offered in the spring 2014 semester on Thursday evenings.

A number of travel scholarships for FSU students are available. Students will be selected for the scholarships through a competitive application process.

“Taking part in this course and study-travel experience would be a wonderful fit for Fairmont State students interested in exploring the Italian language and culture. This would be a great way to check out what it would be like to study abroad University of Calabria in Italy,” Byers said.

Before the trip, special sessions and presentations will be scheduled for the participants to receive background information on the places to be visited. Selected readings will be housed at the Folklife Center and its Fidura Special Collections Library.

Byers and Noel W. Tenney, Cultural Specialist for the Folklife Center, will lead and host the journey. An initial deposit of $450 for those planning to participate in the study tour is due on Oct. 15. To view an itinerary and detailed cost information and to obtain an application for the trip and a student scholarship application, visit

For more information, contact the Frank and Jane Gabor West Virginia Folklife Center at (304) 367-4403 or