An ancient Italian/French dialect known as Faetar is spoken in Faeto and Celle di San Vito. It has been of great interest to scholars, historians and linguists for many years. Standard Italian is taught in the schools as the primary language but Faetar is also taught and is used extensively between parents and children. The people of Celle and Faeto are very proud of the Faetar dialect and they have nurtured the language in their daily lives. The signs at the town boundaries of Faeto welcome visitors in both Italian and Faetar. The origin of the Faetar dialect is traced to the thirteenth century. During the early years of the thirteenth century Emperor Frederick II ruled the western portion of the old Holy Roman empire. The emperor ruled from Germany. Rome had been a "backwater" town for centuries although the Popes resided there. The church was very weak but getting stronger. Pope Innocent IV was in constant competition with Frederick II. They fought over control of everything, Innocent for the domination of the papacy having control over emperors and Frederick II over resisting that takeover. At Frederick's death in 1250 A.D. his son, Manfred, became emperor. Pope Innocent searched for a strong military leader to counter the influence of Manfred. After years of haggling during which Pope Innocent died and was succeeded by Pope Urban IV the stage was set for the entrance of Charles of Anjou (France). Charles was the younger brother of Louis IX, king of France. Charles' aim was to re-invigorate the kingdom of the two Sicilies under Angevin rule. Charles accepted the Pope's military offer to rid Italy of the Normans, Saracens, Arabs and other factions that were a threat to the papacy. After defeating Manfred at the battle of Benevento, he invited hundreds of farmers and tradesmen from his Franco-Provencal homeland to southern Italy to dilute the influence of the Saracens, Greeks and Arabs. Many settled in Lucera, Troia, Celle di San Vito, Foggia and surrounding towns. Over the years a group of these settlers (probably from Celle) seeking a more healthful climate, settled in the Faeto area and eventually, in 1344, founded the new town. By this time the Faetar dialect was well-entrenched. In recent years linguists and historians have researched the origins of the Faetar dialect. In 1991 John Carosiello (now residing in Bethlehem, PA) carried a brief history he had written of Faeto to the Linguistics Dept. at the University of Pennsylvania in Phildelphia. He was asked to leave his writings at the university so that the graduate students would be able to review it and, perhaps, one might accept the challenge of studying the Faetar dialect. Much to Mr. Carosiello's surprise, within two weeks he received a call from Ms. Naomi Gail Nagy, a graduate of Dartmouth informing him that she would like to study the Faetar dialect for her doctoral dissertation. She spent the next three summers in Faeto working on the project and making many friends. Ms Nagy received her doctoral degree in April, 1996. Her 287 page dissertation is a masterfull technical document. She is now a professor of linguistics at the University of New Hampshire. Ms. Nagy's research substantiated that the Faetar dialect originated in the Ain and Isere river regions of the Francoprovencal area of France. However, today's Faetar dialect is well diluted with the local Apulian and Neopolitan languages and would hardly be recognizable by today's locals of the Ain and Isere rivers. Both Nagy and Carosiello agree that there are other credible influences of the Faetar dialect. One is the Waldensian migration from northern Italy. The true facts may never be known but Faetani and Cellesi descendants, who are scattered all over the world, have a rich history to contemplate. [by Ray LaMacchia 1998]
More about Dr. Nagy's Faetar Studies:If you are interested in languages and Dr. Nagy's work on Faetar
you can view her papers at these sites:
This is 'the best link to my work, and other links to Faeto'
- Naomi Nagy, Ph.D., Linguistics Program Coordinator,
English Department, University of New Hampshire
Phonology Papers Romance Language Papers Sociolinguistic Papers