The Ghosts of Italy

The Ghosts of Italy is Angela Paolantonio's memoir of how she first discovers and then returns to live in the remote mountain village in Southern Italy where her grandparents were born. She sets out late one November, just after having celebrated Thanksgiving alone on a rooftop in Rome, the spirit of her ancestors guiding her in. "I really didn't know I was searching for anything till I got here," she says. "Then I realized what I was missing and what it meant."

Angela Paolantonio's archetypal journey to the village of the ghosts of her ancestors is a unique yet universal woman's story. She ventures across the threshold of a lost world, reclaims it, and falls deeply in love along the way – with the town and its residents, the landscape, and the Handsome Man from Macchiursi. She follows the clues to rediscover her spirit and the spirit of her grandmother, and namesake, whose memory had been lost to her, locked inside her father's heart.

The Ghosts of Italy opens with Angela's daydream of one day owning a stone house on an Italian hillside, sheep grazing below her balcony. 'Now I have them in view.' Then wistfully, 'But it's not just any view. It's the balcony view of my grandmother's youth.'

With good timing, Angela ends up buying the very house where her grandmother was born, made of fieldstone set by hand by her great-grandfather, with the beautiful view, kept in the family for generations. But will she trade a career in Los Angeles to live the Roseto Mystery?


I fantasmi d'Italia è la storia di un viaggio di riconquista dapprima casuale e poi via via sempre più consapevole da parte dell'autrice, nonché voce narrante, sino a divenire desiderio ostinato e caparbio nel volersi riappropriare di un passato parzialmente negatole.

Un'appassionata e volitiva Angela Paolantonio compie questo percorso prima di tutto interiore, di testa e di cuore, su un arco prolungato di anni fatto di incursioni più o meno lunghe nel paese di origine della sua famiglia paterna. Un viaggio circolare dove il rinvenimento delle proprie origini porterà l'autrice a una nuova consapevolezza: capire che tutto quanto aveva cercato era sempre stato dentro di sé.

Angela Paolantonio

Angela Paolantonio, whose grandparents landed at Ellis Island, was born in Brooklyn and raised on Long Island. Her love of photography began as she watched her father expose and develop contact sheets on the family kitchen table.

She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts and Art History degree from Long Island University, Southampton, New York. She is a writer and photographer, curator, and consultant for art and photography exhibits, books, and events, both in Italy and the U.S.

Angela lives in Calitri, Italy, on via Fontana, in the house where her grandmother was born.

Press & Events

August 2016 - The Ghosts of Italy is released in USA.

Articles about the author:
The Journey Home, Making a New Life in the Old Country, by Joyce Wadler, The New York Times, Home and Garden cover story, November 22, 2007. The article with a photo slideshow was an immediate international success, picked up by several Italian national newspapers and international news sites, as well as blogs such as Apartment Therapy.

Orticalab, Italy Editore. Ortica s.r.l. Regional news, politics, sports, and entertainment. Interviewed by Lara Tomasetta (In Italian) for Orticalab, Italy January 2016. Featuring The Ghosts of Italy.

Orticalab, Italy Editore. Ortica s.r.l. Regional news, politics, sports, and entertainment. Interviewed by Andrea Fantucchio (In Italian) for Orticalab, Italy April 2015.

South to Calitri: Home to Where It All Began, The American Magazine, Italy. Author byline. October, 2006.


Photo Tours
Angela leads intimate 5-day Master Class Photo Tours in Southern Italy:

Sacro e Profano Napoli
A Master Class Photo Tour di sacro e profano Napoli. You'll discover and explore extraordinary Neapolitan street altars or altari dei vicoli, chiese, and sepulchre – uniquely sacred and profane locations that are boldly hidden in plain sight, still venerated by local Napoletani.

Paesaggi Irpinia
Explore the Southern Italian region of East Irpinia. From the hunting castles of Neapolitan princes to rural wheat fields across layered horizons – Alta Irpinia is a volcanic zone rich in geologic and feudal history.

For Book Clubs

Angela Paolantonio is available for book clubs or other speaking engagements. To contact her, please write to her at

The Ghosts of Italy is an ideal book to spark discussion in book clubs on a variety of topics, ranging from the differences between American and Italian culture, to how exploring your past, can help you discover your present self.

Questions could include the following:

1. What is the role of women in small town life in Southern Italy?
2. Is it necessary to know about your family’s past, with all of its secrets, in order to become a fully realized person?
3. What would it be like to go back to the country your ancestors came from and live there now?



Angela can be contacted at:

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