Ricordi di Torricella
Memories of Torricella

 The Letter [1]
   by Giosia Aspromonte




cliccate qui per l'italiano



In practice, anyone born and raised in Torricella knew all its inhabitants; in this they were aided by:
- nicknames which distinguished all the families;
- many activities and amusements that they all carried out together.
Such occasions, amongst other things, constituted times for meeting up with each other and for exchanging information.

There was the customary manner, moreover, in which people addressed each other prefaced in increasing order of respect by the title of “Zi” (Uncle), “Za” (Aunt),” “Mastr” (Master or Sir) and “Don” (Godfather) and rarely “Vossignori” (Lord).
Also everyone knew everybody else’s business since the community was small and traditionally they all participated in everyone’s joy and grief.

The community communicated verbally and, if they wanted to let all the people know about some news, the Parish Priest would talk about it at the Sunday mass; for secular matters instead there was the town-crier who, going from street to street, attracted attention with a long blast on his trumpet and then repeated the news that everyone needed to know.
Immediately everyone exchanged their points of view, interpretations and criticisms of the news they had heard.

All jobs were learned in silence, by watching and by trying to copy how they were done.

In reality, knowing how to read and write was considered to be something prestigious, but of little use; especially since everyone, from their earliest childhood, had learned how to read the big book of nature, which was available to all and as sincere and uncontaminated as was the pure fresh-air that everyone could breathe in those days.

This state of equilibrium was broken when various personalities, presuming directly to call themselves the upholders of divine rights, began to give orders that absolutely had to be carried out.

To do this the orders had to be written down so as to be undisputable and, moreover, because of the large number of illiterates, it was immediately written into the written orders that being unable to read did not constitute an excuse for citizens not to respect the public orders.

The self-styled upholders of divine rights always wrote directly to the men, because on a certain day they had to leave all their present and future commitments to be at the disposition of these same people who put themselves in charge, day and night in places far distant places in Italy or abroad, even at the cost of dying or returning mutilated, since in turn they were charged with wounding and killing other men. Their families, wives, children, fields, animals, were all things which ought not to interest those who were doing God’s will, except in that these could be appropriated, without any compensation (or damages) and without any explanation, if that was convenient for some others of the self-styled upholders of divine rights.

What is more, these people in charge provided extremely severe penalties for those who did not behave as they were supposed to do, according to the appropriate written orders, which the recipient could not even read.

These people in charge, always giving nothing in return, demanded in writing, with unquestionable orders, irresistible threats, and without any argument, payment in cash of a “tax”, commensurate with the capacity of this stolen land to provide an income.

In spite of the French Revolution, the Restoration, the Constitution of the States and the Unification of Italy, such offences and robberies, carried out for many years to the harm of our poor peasants, continued for many more years, to such an extent as to force many of them to flee: to emigrate abroad.

But emigrating to far off countries meant cutting the ties to their own world and the one week link that could continue to exist was just the epistolary relationship (letters).

A population with a high level of illiteracy, with the “good luck” of a unified Italy, suddenly had to learn not only to read and write, but in the Piedmontese-Tuscan Roman language (unfamiliar to many) because this was convenient for the self-styled upholders of divine rights of the time.

It is needless to say that in their frequent conversations, our peasants displayed a real hatred towards all those self-styled upholders of divine rights; after the fall of the Bourbons, it was not by chance that in our native zone there arose many brigands in much the same way as that attributed to the legendary Robin Hood.

“L’ se fa la lettera” “Do you know how to read and write?” was the terrible question that still circulated in Torricella when I loved there, since there were documents to be read, sent by some pushy upstart, or else when people were thinking about the possibility of emigrating.

With bureaucratic times that had nothing to do with economic resources or technical updates, finally the Italian State became aware that all Italians needed to be able to read and write; so they built and equipped very many schools in… Libya (??); they are still there but not even the Libyans use them.
With residual resources left over from empire building, even villages like Torricella laboriously set up elementary schools, only for them to be destroyed immediately after by the War, so greatly disliked by the poor people but so highly desired by the self-styled upholders of divine rights, for reasons such as racism and greed to possess things belonging to others.
At this point one must ask oneself whether the people in charge had misunderstood things or whether, when God gave his orders to these self-styled upholders of divine rights, he forgot about his own COMMANDMENTS.


Figure 1   in this photo of a wedding, one can clearly see the small bell tower of the Church of San Rocco
As the month of October approached in 1946, everyone in Torricella was talking about the reopening of the school, the buildings of which had been destroyed in the War due to German mines; the fascist culture was driven out by the democrats’ victory, but whilst many teachers were amongst the fascists in flight, there were also many teachers amongst the partisans who were following them (and as we know they followed all the way to Bologna).
Figure 2 in the aftermath of War people’s needs grew ever more serious

Figure 3 the mirage of going away to be better-off seems ever more credible


Figure 4 solidarity (togetherness), socialising and collaboration, the rhythms of work

Many of our peasants thought that since they had to work day and night in their own land, they would be able to work much better in a country where people only worked eight hours a day and did not work at all on Saturdays or Sundays.

Nobody warned them of the trap. No-one told them that in those countries everyone works for themselves and at a rhythm (pace) of work that the peasants could never even have imagined; everyone had to think of themselves and there would be problems if you ever had the misfortune to need help from others.

Figure 5   alluring invitations to leave one’s own land

Figure 6 ease of escaping poverty

Figure 7 there were many large families of peasants; of all ages; each individual had work duties to carry out
Poverty, infinitely worsened by the War, persuaded an ever greater number of people of the need to emigrate and thus, in spite of everything, everyone worked together to set up again the mechanism that would allow as many citizens as possible to be able to reply positively to the question “l se fa la lettera?”

On the 15th of October 1946, at 8:30 am, the small bell in the bell tower of the Church of San Rocco was “tolled” very fast to announce the start of lessons, which for me were those of the second elementary class.

Our classroom had been set up on the second floor on the north-west side of the old Town Hall building restores as well as could be for the occasion.

Figure 8 in front of the Church of S. Giacomo in Torricella, there was the Church of San Rocco with its small bell tower with two bells: the smaller one was
rung at eight thirty in the morning to announce the start of school

“Zi Ricuccie” was the official sacristan (sexton) of the Church of San Giacomo and as such he was also the keeper of the heavy keys of the Church of San Rocco, dilapidated in parts not having been rebuilt after the War. The keys gave access to the dangerous wooden staircase that led to the small bell tower of the church of San Rocco.
To ring those bells was a trusted duty for it was highly risky and a full “peel” could not be rung because as they swung they might collapse together with the small bell tower. They were rung as a “toll” one at a time; by means of a leather handle you caught the clapper which struck the inside of the bell; its sound, with a silvery tone, could clearly be heard by all the inhabitants of Torricella and it was rung with the greatest punctuality.
“Zi Ricuccie” was a particularly unforgettable personality; of medium height and of very thin build (in those days there were very few fat people but he exceeded in the opposite sense); he dressed in grey or black with a professional “style” suit of his time, but you couldn’t help noticing that the suit was full of mends and darns, repairs, adjustments, washing and ironing that it had undergone in the last 30 years; the suit was complete with a waistcoat that also was worn out but which he still kept with pride, a pride in the waistcoat pocket with a large chain; there was also a breast pocket for keeping his small glasses for short-sightedness in those rare moments when he wasn’t wearing them on his nose. He was never without his cap and he was always in a bad mood although somewhat lessened by his tendency to talk little.
“Zi Ricuccie” lived in the third building on the right on the Road that climbs from the Church of San Giacomo towards the “piane” (the district known as The Plains); I lived with my grandparents in the fourth building on the same street; I spent a lot of time watching what “Zi Ricuccie” did; I was tolerated by him because he did everything in silence and, despite my nature, I had understood that with him I must not speak and especially not ask any questions; maybe it was due to this attitude that at first he tolerated me and later on became my friend and trusted me.
He had many children some grown up and I recall two very nice youths, two young girls about eighteen years old, one of whom was called Teresa and a girl of about my age who was called Genoveffa. His wife, always dressed in black, rather fat, constantly grumbling, was called “Za Annina”.
“Zi Ricuccie” carried out the duties of caretaker (janitor) at the school; “Zi Ricuccie” also served meals to the solitary prisoner in Torricella’s Prison; the prison was located by climbing the staircase at the corner that leads to the “tirriete” (the district known as the terraces[5]).

“Zi Ricuccie” was also known as “lu stagnine” (the tinman) because amongst the many little jobs that he did he was also a tinsmith; everything on a small scale; maybe due to his limited strength; I’ve seen him transform an empty food tin (perhaps collected from the rubbish) into an oil or petrol lamp with the same elegance as an antique lamp; I’ve watched him making brooms and brushes and other similar things, using Broomcorn[6] (Sorghum) as the raw material. I’ve also seen him carry out small repairs and maintenance of various pieces of equipment from the Church of which he was the Sacristan.
All in all I thought he was nice, even if his suit and his bad temper might have been a mirror image of the suit and temper of Don Cosma, who was the crabby, despotic Parish Priest of “Zi Ricuccie” during the period in which I lived in Torricella.

The first time “Zi Ricuccie” placed his trust in me was when he first gave me the burdensome task of going to ring the bell for the start of lessons, up the dangerous little bell tower of the old Church of San Rocco.
Later he even authorised me to take with me a person that I myself trusted.

In practice I was the person announcing the start of lessons; this operation was made easier by the fact that in front of the Church of San Rocco you could easily see the clock on the bell tower of the Church of San Giacomo.
Anyone who has never rung a bell (I mean one pulled by hand, not the electronic type in use today) cannot know what a joy and atavistic pleasure it gives, especially for a child; also I was courted by my companions who all wanted to be the one chosen to accompany me and go and ring the bell for the start of lessons.

Figure 9 - " la scole” (the school) before it was damaged during the War

I attended the elementary school in Torricella and more precisely I was in the Second Year during 1945-46.
The Fourth Year which I was in from 1947-48 will be part of another Testimony should there be interest in finding out about it.

The Second Year of elementary school took place in a room in the old Town Hall building which was in front of the staircase that went up to the Church of San Giacomo.
The building had been damaged during the War that had recently ended, but it had been quickly repaired to ensure that indispensable social functions could be carried out there.

The furnishings in the Second Elementary Class were in a poor condition as shown in the photo above, but they had been put right as well as possible.

Figure 10
desks and furniture fixed up after the War

Figure 11 a rare bakelite[7] desk inkwell from the 1930’s – these were used in the hole in the old school desks

Figure 12 desks and furniture fixed up after the War

Figure 13 desks and furniture fixed up after the War

Also because the Second Elementary was attended by over thirty children whose ages ranged from 7 to 14 years; thus there were not only the problems of the various different sizes, shapes and capabilities of each scholar, but also the fact that children were not considered to be people, but rather as “things” that were a burden and a nuisance.


Figure 14 from Silvio Porreca’s album, 1946.
Very few of them are recognisable: the first standing on the left, in the foreground, with a pale cardigan, is Domenicuccio di fiorenze; next to him, the first two girls in the front are Luisella Pellicciotta (the daughter of Teresa di capè) and Gabriella Teti de la sciabbilette; in front, in a pale jacket and carrying books under his arm is Giuseppe Vitacolonna di ribbecche; next to him, in a dark sweater is Silvano Fedele.
I am not in that photo and it probably wasn’t of the Second Elementary Class. In my class, however, there was a boy called Francesco or De Francesco, whose father, a partisan, had been killed by the Germans.
There was also a Porreca, the same age as me, and he was the son of Torricella’s Pharmacist.
Figure 15 the radiators behind the little girl did not work, but played a part in the fascist “scenery”
(note the wood-burning-stove in the first photo of this School section, Figure 9)

Figure 16   what the children were like

Figure 17   how they ought to have been

Why so much difference? Because it was the first year that the school had reopened after the break for the War. Children who had become six years old in 1940, 1941, 1942, 1943, 1944 and 1945 had not been able to start going to school; on the other hand, many of the parents had been happy enough to avoid making them waste time with the excuse of going to school. Instead of working in the fields, the children were busy with their schooling (getting there, studying and sometimes living at the school).
Since that type of school delivered things equally to people with widely differing needs, there was a very high percentage of failure; especially amongst those who could not speak the Piedmontese-Tuscan language that was used by the teachers, to preserve their own caste, rather like the mumbo-jumbo “latinorum” of Manzoni[8]. (In Manzoni’s novel, the young man complains about the mumbo-jumbo in Latin, used by the priest, which the hero calls “latinorum”).
The conditioning was such that many children persuaded themselves that they were mentally handicapped and thus not fit to go to school.

Of all the public institutions, however, the School was the only one which was granted a minimum of consideration, since, in lucky cases, the young people did learn how to read and write letters and then they were able to communicate with their own families during the long periods of obligatory military service[9] or in cases where they had emigrated; everything else that the school did was a big waste of time that led them to neglect their agricultural and pastoral duties, from which instead they were able to obtain concrete results.

The other public institutions were considered to be hostile or openly adversarial, which was damaging to the peasants and to their work.

The State demanded, first and foremost, payment in cash of “taxes” (imposed commensurate with the ownership of funds beginning with their productivity); in a society in which ready cash was almost non-existent, it truly was a torture to try to gather together the necessary sum.

The State took the young men at the peal of their energies and used them “under the yoke” “al giogo[9]” of servitude, for the game of war in the rivalry between their other reigning relatives in other States; in many cases the youths never came back whilst others were seriously mutilated.
They were not allowed to grow tobacco but were compelled to buy the low quality stuff that was sold at very high prices by the State itself.

I don’t recall the names of those scholars but you could easily tell their social standing by the language they spoke, from their clothes, from the extreme fear and reverence in which they held the teacher and obviously from their poor scholastic progress.

Their callused hands were not very dexterous and thus poorly able to hold the pencils, rubbers, pens, pen and ink; their books and exercise books were typically “dog-eared”.
Of about 35 pupils who attended the Second Elementary Class, there were about ten or twelve who always got everything wrong and so were destined to be whipped by Master Verna.
I truly mean “whipped”, since the teacher knew that he might hurt himself if he gave them a slap or used his fist.
For this purpose he always had ready a horse-whip, which before Register, or the books, or any other thing in the mornings, he would carry into the classroom and he used it more than anything else in his teaching.

His method was not that which had been used for thousands of years to tame wild animals, that is the use of “a carrot and a stick”; he had further modified this method into “insults and whippings”.
From the heights of his “culture” he had even convinced the parents that those “beasts” should only be treated in this manner.
His whip and his use of it had become normal, peaceful teaching aids. Especially for those young people whose parents were unable to put forward any arguments against such educational methods.



Figure 18 horse whip (the main educational tool of Maestro Verna)

Figure 19 Other professional tool for writing with pens and pen and ink

Figure 20  Podestà from 1936 to 1944 - Giovanni Verna, elementary school teacher, Member of the National Fascist Party[11]
I do not believe that he carried out his studies in Rome in the 1700’s where he could only have learned from some old edict written in stone like the following:

Figure 21 Rome Via dei Pettinari (about halfway along on the left going towards the Tiber

Of Public Whippings.

Even when amusing themselves, the Romans needed to be careful; as to severity (if not otherwise threatened) the authorities did not joke about it. Perpetrators of carnivalesque “excesses” risked corporal punishment. Flogging, for example, or “tratti di corda”[12]. In this case the unlucky victim was pulled up from the ground via a pulley by a rope attached to his arms, tied behind his back, and then suddenly let to fall. And nothing about it was fake (or pretence). IN Rome at that time, the instruments for this torture were spread along the most frequented roads of the city. In 1692 “a man wearing a Punch (Pulcinella) mask was whipped around the city because he had been joking (lewdly) in the Corso with a salame”. This is just one example from the many in the “News” in those days. It may be that the population was not worried by this any more. Torture, like imprisonment, was considered almost as a sort of “natural disaster”. Even prostitutes, if discovered wearing a mask – which was a forbidden thing for them to do – were whipped, obviously in public, and needless to say, along the Corso…. everything is a spectacle!
If whipping was a beneficial entertainment imagine what the mindful teacher would have thought about a serious activity such as schooling.
I am convinced that he too, as a child, would have been the victim of oppression by the previous generation, which he passed on for over forty years to the children of Torricella.

How was generation oppression born and passed on

The mathematical proof that Galileo Galilee[13] presented in 1613 to convalidate Copernicus’s hypothesis, according to which the Earth rotated around the Sun and not vice-versa, was defined as “false and absurd” by the Roman Catholic Church.

In 1616 Galileo was forced to recant and ended his days under house arrest; he went blind (in 1638 and died in 1642). It was not until over three hundred years later that finally the Church decided to remedy its error and remove Galileo’s writings from the “index”, allowing them freedom of circulation.
Today we all find ourselves in an analogous situation to that in which the Church found itself in Galileo’s day; but the difference is that the game-play is much higher, in that our decision as to truth or error will have greater consequences for the survival of humanity, than those of the seventeenth century had. For some years, it has been scientifically proven (even though it is still forbidden to act on it) that the pernicious consequences of traumas in childhood inevitably have repercussions on Society as a whole. This discovery affects every single person and if people were properly informed, there would be a substantial change in our Society and especially it would free us from the blind spiral of violence. In the section that follows I shall try better to clarify my thoughts:
1) Every child enters the world to grow, develop, live, love and express their own needs and feelings, with the aim of better safeguarding their own person.
2) In order to develop harmoniously, the child needs to receive attention and protection by adults who take the child seriously, love him and help him honestly to sort out his life.
3) In cases in which these vital needs of the child are not met, he becomes exploited to satisfy instead the needs of the adults, closed, punished, abused, manipulated, neglected and lied to, without any witness to these violations coming to his aid. In this way the child’s integrity is damaged irreparably.
4) The normal reactions to such lesions of one’s own integrity would be anger and pain, but since in such an environment anger is a forbidden feeling for the child, and since the experience of pain is insupportable in solitude, he must repress these feelings, delete the memory of the trauma and idealise his aggressors. Later on he will no longer be aware of what had been done to him.
5) Feelings of anger, impotence, desperation, worrisome thoughts, fear and pain – by now split from the source which caused them – continue, however, to express themselves in destructive actions turned towards others (criminality and extermination) or against themselves (drug abuse, alcoholism, prostitution, psychiatric disturbances, suicide).
6) Victims of these vengeful actions are often their own children, who act as scapegoats and their persecution is still totally legitimate in our society, it even enjoys high consideration, as soon as it is given the self-styled definition of “education”. The tragedy is that people beat their own children in order not to take formal note of what our parents have done to us.
7) In order for an abused child not to become a delinquent or mentally ill, at least once I his life he needs to meet someone who recognises for certain that a lost (frightened) and beaten child is not “deviant”, but rather the atmosphere surrounding him is at fault. Society’s knowledge or ignorance helps, in this sense, to save a life or to contribute to destroying it. From this springs the great opportunity for parents, lawyers, judges, doctors and social workers, with no half measures, to be on the child’s side and to give them their trust.
8) Until now Society protected the adults and made the victims be guilty. In its blindness it relied on theories which, still entirely corresponding to the educational model of our grandparents, saw the child as an astute creature, a being dominated by wicked impulses, telling lies and criticising the poor innocent parents, or else they desired the child sexually. In reality, however, there is no child who is not ready to take on itself the guilt of its parents’ cruelty, to take all responsibility from them, so that he can continue to love (them).
9) Thanks to new therapeutic methods, in recent years it has been demonstrated that traumatic experiences obliterated from childhood are stored in the body’s memory, where they remain at a subconscious level and continue to exercise their influence on the life of the adult. Electronic readings on the foetus have revealed, moreover, a finding which had not been perceived by most adults until now; it has been found that, from its earliest moments, a baby is capable of taking in and learning both tender and cruel attitudes and behaviours.
10) Thanks to this new knowledge, every absurd behaviour reveals its logic, that had been hidden until then, as soon as the traumatic experiences undergone in childhood no longer remain in the shadows.
11) Having gained sensitivity about the cruelties committed against children and the consequences they bring, which until now had always been denied, the continual cycle of violence from generation to generation should be broken.
12) Individuals who have not had to suffer childhood violations of their integrity, who have enjoyed feelings of protection, respect and loyalty from their parents, as youths and later in life will be intelligent, receptive, very sensible and capable of empathising with others. They will enjoy living and will not feel any need to harm other people or themselves, nor to kill. They will use their own powers to defend themselves and not be the aggressor. They will be unable not to respect and protect the weak, or their own children, since they themselves, had once had that same experience, and since from the very beginning they had learned this knowledge (and not cruelty). These individuals will never be able to understand why their ancestors felt the need to build a colossal industry of war, in order to feel at ease and secure in the world. Since the subconscious task of their lives will not be to defend themselves from the threats of childhood, they will be able to face up to the threats present in reality in a more rational and creative manner
Taken from: A. Miller, The Persecution of the Child (La persecuZione del bambino),, Bollati Boringhieri, Torino, 1987.[14]


Those thirtyfive noisy, clumsy, “pig-heads” then seemed to me to have unmistakeable characteristics.
A small group (sons of peasants, agricultural labourers who lived in the countryside) were characterised by
• frequent absences, even for long periods; in some cases the Carabinieri[14] went unwillingly to search for them, to give a warning to the parents that they must send their children to school; in theory, the law made elementary education obligatory; but neither the teachers, nor the parents nor even the Carabinieri cared anything about educating these children.
• Punctuality was dependent on atmospheric conditions and certainly they were absent on days when it was possible to work in the fields.
• Their clothes were the most darned and had both coloured and plain patches; often they were a cause of derision because they wore “chioche”[16] on their feet.
• The lack of cleanliness of their bodies and their clothes was visible and warned you they were coming in advance.
• They certainly never had Monsignor Giovanni della Casa[17] as a teacher; and often their teachers had never even heard of the author nor of his book Il Galateo[18].
• When the sun makes the weeds needing to be uprooted grow, or when the rain makes the land needing to be worked muddy, or when the cold makes working in the fields a torment, it is very difficult for children who work in the fields to be fascinated by the differences between the “e” (= and) when it is a connecting word, or “é” (= he, she or it is) when it is the third person singular of the verb (from essere = to be), and even less between words beginning with a pure or impure “s”.
• They paid attention during lessons solely to avoid being the object of contempt, for reasons that were not their fault, especially so as not to give the excellent Maestro Verna an excuse to whip them.
• Between the animals they had to look after, the land to hoe, the fields to sow, the trees to prune, the wood to gather and the thousand other activities required for working in the fields, how much more homework did they have to carry out so as not to make Maestro Verna’s whip take action?


The main teaching activities that went on during lessons were dictation and its correction, reading and arithmetical sums.

Dictation texts were written by authors who in order to survive had to pay homage to all the powerful men of the time, with a propensity to use Piedmontese, Florentine language and great deference towards the Roman World and Fascism (many powerful Fascists remained in post even after the fall of Fascism). Often the author had studied elsewhere than in the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies[19]; the literary style and linguistic tendencies were strongly linked to those other cities.
The teacher doing the dictating did not have a diploma in speaking and, quite the contrary, I challenge anyone to find anyone in those days who knew what they were talking about when they mentioned diction.

A scientific process has recently been demonstrated to show with certainty that, when an individual listens to a word, he understands the concept partly by means of the sound that his ear perceives, completing his understanding of it by using millions of pieces of information that he has memorised in his brain throughout his life.

When those dear boys were writing their dictations, they had at their disposal thousands of words in the dialects of their own villages and the surrounding villages, plus a few new words, heard for the first time in school, of which often the meaning was still obscure for them.

Whilst they were writing, however, they had to be careful not to spill the inkwell, to drop ink-blobs on their exercise books, and not to make these dog-eared: all of these were crimes punishable by a well-determined number of strokes of the whip, administered with extreme severity and depravity by the excellent Maestro Verna.

Figure 22 the classic ink blob on a page of writing paper
Dipping the metal nib inserted into the wooden pen handle; drawing up sufficient ink to be able to write, but without it being too much so that it would drip; according to Maestro Verna all this was facilitated by the threat of a whipping.

Figure 23 an ink-filled“ buccett”(bottle)

Figure 24 “la pen nchi lu pinnine” (dilalect)
that often had to be carried from home the pen with its nib
Needless to say the dictations were full of mistakes which the teachers attributed solely to the bestiality of the pupils, who, (according to them) certainly were attending school due to a huge error of evaluation: they did not have the right sort of brain.

Addition, subtraction, division and small problems were an integral part of the teaching programme, but they became tragedies (for the pupils) because the teachers never even dreamed remotely of linking the bureaucratic problems of the State Scholastic Programme to the daily realities of those unfortunate children: it never even remotely passed through those teachers’ brains that weights and measures in the decimal metric system could be made understandable by referring to the measures of the ex-Kindom of the Two Sicilies already then in existence

Figure 25 c’era l’ossessione delle macchie vissute come cause di frustate

Figure 26 pens and nibs disassembled (nibs often had to be changed because they became blunt)

Figure 27 (writing in an exercise book using pen, nib and ink)
Derision was increased by involuntary use of dialect, errors in dictation, accents of dialect in reading, that rough idiom, born of so many mothers.

Whippings were increased according to an unwritten dictum of Maestro Verna’s (he must have seen them, fixed to the walls in Papal Rome) (see the photos, Figures 21 and 21a, above)

In any case the greatest numbers of whippings were given in order as follows:
• extremely often to labourers sons;
• very often to children of direct peasant growers who lived in the countryside;
• often for children of direct peasant growers especially those not resident in Torricella;
• sometimes for children of direct peasant growers living in Torricella;
• occasionally for children of craftsmen of Torricella;
• rarely for children of well-off merchants
• almost never for children of other Professionals;
• never for children of powerful patriots.
I was classified as son of other Professionals and during the year I only received one whipping (my rank derived from having two maternal Aunts who were Elementary School Teachers, even though they held different political ideas to those of the Fascist Verna).

In other words I can state that the person to be whipped was identifiable by what today would be defined as “census”[20] rather than for the gravity of the misdemeanour for which he was being reprimanded.
Figure 28 slightly dog-eared exercise books
Figure 29 another pen with nib ready for use; the nib was often detached and kept separately to aviod it getting broken by a knock
Figure 30
a pair of bakelite inkwells

It was Christmas 1946 and the teacher had written a little greetings card on the blackboard which we pupils were supposed to copy onto a page in our exercise books to take to our parents.

There was a fixed rule of iron in force from Verna, that if we should make a mistake, instead of making a mess, we had to underline the incorrect word and rewrite the exact one.

Since I was living with my grandparents, my card was to be addressed to them.

Obviously the Teacher had not written the name for the signature on the blackboard, since each one of us had to write our own name.
Since my name is Giosia, I wrote Giosia, but then the teacher explained that the name should not be our official one, but rather the one which our parents usually called us at home (for example “Mingo” instead of Domenico, Cola instead of Nicola, Ricuccio instead of Enrico, etc.)
With that explanation, following the above-mentioned rule, I underlined Giosia and wrote Peppino.
When the Teacher read my card he became infuriated and when I tried with subdued words to justify myself because I had followed the rule for making a correction, he screamed at me “hold out that right hand which has committed this unforgivable error”.
I held out my hand and with all his strength he beat the palm of my right hand whilst all my companions were laughing because finally they had got to see me being whipped too.

Figure 31 facsimile of the mistake which cost me a whipping

Nevertheless that year I made a lot of progress with reading and writing because some friends of “Zi Ricuccio’s” daughters had had some recently published adult comics bought for them: GRAND HOTEL[21], which used comic strips to tell heart-rending love stories with happy endings, in which the baddies died and in the good guys lived happily and contentedly. The single copy was read in secret by many children, it was a forbidden magazine, but in the end, even though months later and in a furtive manner, it even came to me (my pleasant task was to read it to people who did not know how to read).)

Figure 32
cover of an issue of the periodical magazine “Grand Hotel”

That year I also made progress with studying other problems.
The whole village had recently been destroyed by the War and so there were piles of rubble everywhere.
Together with my friend and neighbour, “Mingo”, a little younger than me, we spent a lot of time rummaging around in the rubble amongst the derelict houses, searching for things that were precious to us: we collected pieces of iron, copper, lead and tin; when we had accumulated enough we sold it to second-hand-merchants who visited the village during the fair; naturally we shared our earnings from that modest commerce 50:50.

The above, however, presupposed that we knew how to recognise these metals, how to value them according to “list prices” and how to bargain in order to sell them advantageously to the last applicant. Quality. Familiarity with prices, costs, pay-offs, earnings and how to share them, were far more useful to us than anything our Teacher Maestro Verna could teach us.

Two of Maestro Verna’s pupils:

Right: Donato Aspromonte born in 1900 in Torricella Peligna,
attended the Second Elementary Class at Torricella Peligna in 1907;

Left: Giosia Aspromonte born in Torricella Peligna on 12th March 1938:
son of Nicola (Donato’s brother), attended the Second Elementary Class at Torricella Peligna in 1946.




Figure 33 (left) Giosia Aspromonte and (right) Donato Aspromonte in America

They met in July 1990 in Santa Cruz, California, USA.
Soon after exchanging the ritual pleasantries of Uncle and Nephew, their conversation turned to a dreadful Teacher of the Second Elementary Class who had taught both of them.
From the descriptions the two Teachers seemed very similar; it almost seemed that they were one and the same person.
They excluded that possibility, thinking about the large number of years that had separated them; then, however, doing their sums better, the Grandfather, Uncle Dan, must have been in the Second Elementary Class in about 1908 (when Maestro Verna would have been about 20 years old or more); forty years later, when he was Giosia’s Second Elementary Class Teacher, he would have been a little over sixty years old; and, in fact, I remembered him as being very old, whilst Uncle Dan remembered him as being a young man. From other news that we have gathered, we can confirm not only that it was the same person, but also that he always used the self-same teaching methods.

In forty years of teaching he made about 1,200 Torricellan children into victims of the generation oppression.
With few exceptions 1.200 Torricellans became indifferent to the violence of this Teacher.

Both my Uncle and I were saved for the following reasons:
My Uncle Dan: considered to be of a weakly disposition, he was not heading for work in the fields but was “placed” in a shop in the village to learn the trade of tailor; he sought after beautiful things, elegance, harmonious colours and worked in a serene atmosphere where there was the custom of singing whilst working (in those days there were no radios or televisions and singing was a pleasant pastime); schoolchildren were told off and rebuked for mistakes or negligence by the Teacher. The objective of all pupils was to produce what was called a “masterpiece” and so all apprentices worked to get there first and best.

Despite his troubles, punishments and anxieties, right up to the age of 90, when I knew him, he was a very good-humoured person, always laughing, joking and singing.

I, Giosia: had good fortune in the First Elementary Class: a young and beautiful young lady Teacher saw that I had difficulties and took me under her wing and lovingly, at her desk, she guided my hands which proved ready and willing and quick to learn. I learned about human warmth and the will of the Teacher to want to help me, but, to my regret, there was no need of any further intervention on her part to give me a love of studying.
With a few gestures she taught me that learning can be both useful and pleasing, which was quite the opposite of the later theories of the Teacher with the whip.
The one thing that Teacher Verna has left me, however, is an aversion to all types of violence.

A certain Sangrilli from Torricella, however, was not saved (I don’t recall if that was his name or his nickname), but I am sure that he had a wife and four or five children a little older than me.
He lived on the ground floor of the building where my family lived on the second and third floors; from my balcony I could see the same scene every day.
At about dinner time, the wife and children began to tremble because the husband was due to return from the fields where he had been working with the oxen.

His arrival was preceded by his shouts and the shocking sound of his “scriazzo”[22] (a type of whip[23]; a long, thin, plaited, leather cord, fixed at the end to a rod, used for goading draught animals; at one time it was also used as an instrument of penalty and punishment); whilst the women, all lined up in front of the stable, each holding something in their hands in case he might request it, trying to guess that day what would be the trouble that would cause them all to be whipped; but it didn’t take long for the first blows to strike them, without any reason, like a hailstorm.

The pretexts were more or less the same each day: the water they had prepared wasn’t fresh enough for him, the stables for the oxen weren’t clean enough, there wasn’t enough hay for the animals -and so on.
The pitiful spectacle ended with a further load of lashings and all the women would go back into the house crying.
Every day I watched this same scene and I grieved for all that unprovoked violence.


Regarding these certificates etc below, given out by the school – Figures 34, 35, 36, 37, - although the main large print titles can be read (and translated), the rest is indecipherable, but perhaps these details don’t need to be seen or translated; they ought to be Titles of Study attesting to the level of culture gained by an individual, instead, they are considered to be “worthless pieces of paper”.

Academic Year 1950-51

Figure 34 


Education Agency of L’Aquila

Figure 36 Certificate of study


Figure 37 Another type of Certificate of Study

PNF (National Fascist Party)
“LITTORIO” adjective describing Institutions of the Fascist Regime

Figure 38  The cover for all the “pieces of paper” given out by the school (although not yet updated following the fall of Fascism)


Figure 39 A complete pen and ink set:
- blotting pad;
- non-spill inkwell (empty in this case);
- pen for attaching the nibs (used in the old days);
- various types of nib for different calligraphies (cursive English, Gothic, , roundest script etc).



Figure 40 small glass inkwell

Figure 41 de luxe inkwell for display in rich people’s living rooms

Figure 42 A set of nibs that would have made any student happy
The nibs often became blunt and then could not be used any more

Figure 43 The Register

So that is what the Second Elementary Class at Torricella was like in 1946; it ought to have aimed at teaching one or more disciplines by means of methodical, organised instruction.

Frascati(Rome), January 2006                                                                                               Giosia Aspromonte



[1] Examples of emigrée’s letters

I am from Abruzzo (Lanciano).
I left there in 1959 because I had no work. In those
days you could only emigrate if you were invited you
and some of my relatives invited me to go to Canada.
I made many sacrifices but I settled in straight away
because at that time there was much solidarity amongst Italians.
After working for two years I invited my family to join me
and slowly I settled down. Now I have retired. Canada for me
is my life and I shan’t ever return again to Italy
because I don’t feel like giving up all that I had
and that I have here, even if I still carry my native
country in my heart.

I arrived in Canada from the Province of L’aquila
to join my fiancée whom I had met in Italy. I liked it here.
I have been lucky. I have a nice family, my own work
and I thank my adoptive country.

I left with my brother from Giulianova for the United
States in 1952.
I was 12 years old. My parents and a brother stayed there.
At 16 I married my husband. I had a very large family.
America has given me many joys and few griefs.
Only the pain of the distance from my brothers. I
have lived in comfort which unfortunately was not available
in my village. Thanks to America for all it has given me, and
greetings to all Abruzzans.

I left Nereto (Te) in 1967 and went to work in
Germany. the early years were
hard but I managed to build a solid base for my
family. I always think about my country, I go back
there every now and again but now I am fine here.
Maybe when I have retired I shall go back.
Ciao Abruzzo.

When I was 45 I left my village of Tollo (Ch) to
go to Toronto.
Leaving was horrible, but something told me that
I had to go. In fact with my work as a carpenter I made
a fortune and I have found a wife. Now I have a family
and grandchildren. I shall not go back to Italy, because
we Italians have Italianised this land. I think that the love
of one’s family and a good job are enough to be happy anywhere.

[2] “Li se fa la lettere” in Italian: “do you know how to read and write?”

[3] Arms taken away from agriculture (Braccia sottratte all’agricoltura) - a “learnéd” phrase, against which there is no appeal, that the Teacher, Verna, used to make when confronting the difficulties facing those young sons as they tried to apply to their undisputed intelligence to understanding the absurdity of that school of his; for the Teacher these children belonged to an inferior race that was a burden on the others and at the most they could be used as tools to work the land.

[4] “Trop studi sconcie la coccia de li giovine” - (Grandmother Felice’s proverb) too much studying ruins youth’s heads or to be more precise, too much theory and too little practice; she could read and write but she did not know the “ora et labora”
* of San Benedetto; she did not know the reasons for Mao’s Cultural Revolution in China; she did not know how Castro’s Cuba was organised; nor did she know that Leonardo da Vinci had said “theory is the Captain and the soldiers are the Practical part - and so to undertake any war both are of fundamental importance”; without having known any of these things or other similar ones, she was the bearer of many profound thoughts, useful even to us modern men, which she had gleaned from the Peasant Culture, of which she was a daughter.
After Grandmother Felice’s death even this aspect of that Culture would have been completely forgotten had I not been able, however humbly, to mention it here in this very modest note.

* “Ora et labora” - was the Motto of St. Benedict - This simple motto, “Ora et Labora” (Pray and Work) stands as an epitome of the means Father Benedict holds out to realize the desire of eternal life.
“St. Benedict is best understood as the spirituality of ordinary life... The Benedictine is a spirituality of work - man's by labour, God's by prayer.” (John Senior).
The beauty and simplicity of the Benedictine Rule is the foundation for the spiritual life of the community. This Rule of Life is read daily. In this “little Rule written for beginners,” we find a lovely pattern to be “doers of the Word”; a time-tested way of life which cultured a barbaric continent by the sheer example of its followers.

St. Benedict (480-543)
“If one wishes to understand in depth his personality and life, he can find in the disposition of the Rule the exact image of all the actions of the master, because this saintly man is incapable of teaching other than he lived.” (St. Gregory)
To find the source of the enduring strength of the Rule, one need look no further than its founder. The saintly Father of monks was a living image of the Benedictine Rule. Its pages reflect the loving care and holy experience of a true father.
Benedict was born to a noble family in Nursia, then educated in Rome. He left the garish glare of the world to seek God in solitude at Subiaco. His holiness was known and he was sought out. He was then persuaded to become abbot of a group of monks of Vicovaro. After a failed poisoning attempt, Benedict left the incorrigible monks to return to his solitude. Fervent disciples flocked to him, so he established his famous monastery at Monte Cassino. The order grew dramatically. After a life of intense prayer and penance, conversions and miracles, Benedict died on March 21, 543. He left behind him the Benedictine Holy Rule and an example that has inspired men and women for 1500 years.

[5] L Tirriete – means the terraces or the terrace – in Torricella it is a large balcony or terrace, with a wrought iron railing that faces the Church of San Giacomo Apostolo towards the Corso. In this photo it is that balcony high up, behind the little girl.

[6] Broomcorn – Broomcorn (Sorghum bicolour variety technicum (Körnicke) Stapf ex Holland) is a utility plant, not eaten but useful to humanity. Broomcorn probably derived from a sweet sorghum (variety saccharatum grown for syrups and molasses) somewhere within the north-eastern quadrant of Africa. Sometime during the Middle Ages, people along the Mediterranean began cultivating the plant for its unique, long branched panicle or seedhead, commonly called a brush.
Before broomcorn became popular, brooms were made of bundled straw which fell apart quickly or tree twigs like birch which were sturdy but lacked closeness of the bristles and left tiny particles behind. Broomcorn made a broom that could sweep away dust and get into the crevices between paving stones and floorboards. Considering that city streets were filled with undesirable debris like horse manure and household garbage, the advent of broomcorn brooms is considered a major advance in public health.

Ornamental Corn, Broom
Birds Love the Seedheads.
Yields quality straw for crafts and brooms.
Ornamental BroomCorn grows 4-5 feet tall,
like corn without the ears.

Broomcorn heads are used to make brooms!

Today, most brooms are made from synthetic fibers, but you can still find some brooms made from broomcorn.

According to the Alternative Field Crops Manual (1990), broomcorn has three sub-varieties: standard which grows 6 to 15 feet tall and produces a panicle 16 to 36 inches long, Western dwarf which grows 4 to 7 feet, also producing long panicles, and whisk dwarf that only grows 2.5 to 4 feet and produces 12 to 18 inch panicles with finer bristles. Various panicle types are used together to make brooms for different uses--home, outdoor, and industrial. ("Broomcorn", P.R. Carter, D.R. Hicks, A.R. Kaminski, J.D. Doll, K.A. Kelling, G.L. Worf, University of Wisconsin and University of Minnesota, 1990)
Broomcorn does not require irrigation, needs very little fertilizer, almost no pesticides, and is biodegradable. A ton of broomcorn panicles makes about one thousand brooms. The panicles are broken from the plant before the seeds are mature and the branches of the panicles are too stiff. Pale green bristles are the most popular; most commercial varieties have yellow panicles that turn green when ready to harvest.
[Sorghum was taken by slaves from Africa to America and today the United States is the world’s greatest producer. In 2004 world production was about 59 million tons.]

[7] Bakelite is a brand named material based on the thermosetting phenol formaldehyde resin polyoxybenzylmethylenglycolanhydride, developed in 1907-1909 by a Belgian-born American chemist Dr. Leo Baekeland, after whom it is so-named. Formed by the reaction under heat and pressure of phenol and formaldehyde, generally with a wood flour filler, it was the first plastic to be made from synthetic polymers. It was used for its nonconductive and heat-resistant properties in radio and telephone casings and electrical insulators. The invention of Bakelite is considered the beginning of the Age of Plastics.

Structure of Bakelite

In the United States during World War II, due to its hardness and durability and due to copper being needed for shell casings Bakelite was considered as a material for making pennies. Several patterns were made in 1942, but steel was used instead in 1943 and recycled shell casings in 1944 and 1945.
Bakelite Corp. was formed in 1922 and Bakelite Limited was formed in 1927; a new factory opened in Tyseley, Birmingham in 1931, which was in use until finally demolished in 1998.
Phenolics are little used in general consumer products today due to the cost and complexity of production and their brittle nature. An exception to the overall decline is the use in small precision-shaped components where their specific properties are required, such as molded disc brake cylinders, saucepan handles, car-engine rotor arms, electrical plugs and switches, and parts for electrical irons.
The retro appeal of old Bakelite products, especially kitchenware and toys, has made them quite collectable in recent years: A quick search, for example, of eBay, turns up hundreds of listings for all things Bakelite, ranging from radios to poker chips to telephones.

[8] Alessandro Manzoni – 1785–1873, Italian novelist and poet, best known for his romantic novel The Betrothed “I promessi sposi” (1825–1827), considered one of the greatest works of modern Italian fiction.
(In this novel, the young man complains about the mumbo-jumbo in Latin, used by the priest, which the hero calls “latinorum”).
Manzoni wrote it under the influence of Sir Walter Scott; it was a novel of 16th-century Milan that reveals a detailed understanding of Italian life and remains one of Italy's most enduring novels. By 1875, 118 editions had appeared, and the work was widely translated. After its first issue, however, Manzoni continued to revise the work, publishing a stylistically superior version in Tuscan Italian in 1840. As a result, his influence on the development of a consistent Italian prose style was immense.
latinorum – Latin, when used in a pedantic and deliberately incomprehensible manner (mumbo-jumbo): the quote from Manzoni says “che vuol ch’io faccia del suo latinorum?” “What do you want me to do with his latinorum?” (Manzoni)

[9] Obligatory Military Service - in Italy it was not abolished until very recently.
The law of 23 August 2004 suspended it - and it was no longer obligatory in Italy as from 1st January 2005.

In the UK compulsory Military Service ended in the early 1960’s. (The year I (your translator) entered the University of London, 1961, was the first time that boys could go there straight from school and all the Professors commented on how young the students were by comparison with the previous years.)

[10] “al giogo” a relationship of servitude, dependency, being “in service”

[11] National Fascist Party - (Partito Nazionale Fascista; PNF) was an Italian party, created by Benito Mussolini as the political expression of Fascism (previously represented by groups known as Fasci). Founded in Rome on November 7, 1921, it marked the transformation of the paramilitary Fasci Italiani di Combattimento into a more coherent political group (the Fasci di Combattimento had been founded by Mussolini in Milan's Piazza San Sepolcro, on March 23, 1919).
The PNF was instrumental in directing and popularizing support for Mussolini's ideology. After the drastic modification of electoral legislation (the Acerbo Law), the PNF clearly won the highly controversial elections of April 1924. Law passed in 1928 made it the only legal party of the country, a situation which lasted until 1943.
The party was dissolved upon the arrest of Mussolini after the coup inside the Grand Fascist Council, led by Dino Grandi on July 24, 1943; the Fascist Party was officially banned by Pietro Badoglio's government three days later.
It is currently the only party whose re-formation is explicitly banned by the Constitution of Italy.

[12] “tratti di corda” – the person being punished had their hands tied behind their back; another rope was tied to the hands that reached high up and was passed through a pulley that was high above the head of the person being punished; the end of the rope came down again into the hands of the hangman (executioner); he pulled down on the rope thus pulling the victim upwards to a certain height and then suddenly he would let go of the rope, so that the unfortunate victim would crash down to the ground.
The torment was created by having the hands tied tightly behind the back, by the pulling backwards of the arms and by the fall to the ground.
This so-called “tratti di corda” could be given several times with a minimum of three times for an adult man.
Needless to say this punishment could cause the death of the person being punished.

[13] Galileo Galilei - was an Italian scientist who formulated the basic law of falling bodies, which he verified by careful measurements. He constructed a telescope with which he studied lunar craters and discovered four moons revolving around Jupiter; he espoused the Copernican cause.
Galileo Galilei was born on February 15, 1564 in Pisa, Italy. He pioneered the “experimental scientific method” and was the first to use a refracting telescope to make important astronomical discoveries. He discovered the moons of Jupiter and the phases of the planet Venus (similar to those of Earth's moon).
As a professor of astronomy at University of Pisa, Galileo was required to teach the accepted theory of his time - that the sun and all the planets revolved around the Earth. Later at the University of Padua he was exposed to a new theory, proposed by Nicolaus Copernicus, that the Earth and all the other planets revolved around the Sun. Galileo's observations with his new telescope convinced him of the truth of Copernicus's sun-centered, or heliocentric, theory.
Galileo's support for the heliocentric theory got him into trouble with the Roman Catholic Church. Because of his writings in Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems, Galileo was ordered to stand trial on suspicion of heresy. In 1633 the Inquisition convicted him of heresy; the sentence of the Inquisition was in three essential parts:

1. Galileo was required to recant (publicly withdraw) his support of Copernicus and his heliocentric ideas, which were condemned as “formally heretical”;.
2. He was ordered to be imprisoned for life; but because of his advanced age the sentence was later commuted to house arrest at his villa outside of Florence, Italy.
3. His offending Dialogue was banned; and in an action not announced at the trial, publication of any of his works was forbidden, including any he might write in the future. This was not countermanded by the Church until 1992, when Pope John Paul II reinstated Galileo (and his works) and officially announced that the Church had mishandled the case.
Galileo's originality as a scientist lay in his method of inquiry. He is said to have invented the Scientific Method, which is sometimes called the Method of Galileo. First he reduced problems to a simple set of terms on the basis of everyday experience and common-sense logic. Then he analyzed and resolved them according to simple mathematical descriptions. The success with which he applied this technique to the analysis of motion opened the way for modern mathematical and experimental physics. Isaac Newton used one of Galileo's mathematical descriptions, "The Law of Inertia," as the foundation for his "First Law of Motion." Galileo died in 1642, the year of Newton's birth; he is buried in the Basilica of Santa Croce in Florence.

[14] Alice Miller PHD (b. 1923) is a psychologist noted for her work on child abuse and its effects upon society as well as the lives of individuals. She was born in Poland and raised and educated in Switzerland. She gained her doctorate in Philosophy, Psychology and Sociology in 1953 in Zurich, Switzerland.
She became strongly disenchanted with her chosen field of Psychoanalysis after many years spent in practice. Her first three books originated from research she committed herself to as a response to what she felt were major blind spots in her field; however by the time her fourth book was published, she no longer believed that psychoanalysis was viable at all. Drawing upon the work of Psychohistory, Alice Miller has analysed such subjects as Adolf Hitler, Jürgen Bartsch, and many artists such as Pablo Picasso, Virginia Woolf, and Franz Kafka to find links between their childhood traumas and the outcome of their lives.
Miller states that all instances of mental illness and crime come about as a result of trauma that occurred in childhood and was not adequately made up for by a helper which she has come to term an Enlightened Witness. She extends this trauma to include all forms of child abuse, including those that are commonly accepted (such as spanking and time-outs) which she calls poisonous pedagogy.
In the 1990s Miller strongly supported a new method from J. Konrad Stettbacher, who was later charged with incidents of sexual abuse. Since then she has refused to bring forward therapist or method recommendations. She explained her decision and how she could fall for Stettbacher and her opinion on regressive therapies in the open letters 'Communication to my readers' and 'Note to my readers'


Her books include:
Prisoners of Childhood: The Drama of the Gifted Child (1981) ISBN 0465062873
For Your Own Good: Hidden Cruelty in Child-Rearing and the Roots of Violence (1983) ISBN 0374522693
Thou Shalt Not Be Aware: Society's Betrayal of the Child (1984) ISBN 0374525439
Banished Knowledge: Facing Childhood Injuries ISBN 0385267622
The Untouched Key : Tracing Childhood Trauma in Creativity and Destructiveness ISBN 0385267649
Pictures of a childhood : sixty-six watercolors and an essay ISBN 0374232415
The Drama of the Gifted Child: The Search for the True Self (1996) ISBN 0465016901
Paths of Life: Seven Scenarios (1998) ISBN 0375403795
Breaking down the wall of silence : the liberating experience of facing painful truth ISBN 0525933573
The Truth Will Set You Free: Overcoming Emotional Blindness (2001) ISBN 0465045847
The Body Never Lies: The Lingering Effects of Cruel Parenting (2005) ISBN 0393060659

Her essays include:
Childhood Trauma
The Political Consequences of Child Abuse

[15] Carabinieri – members of an Italian army corps which is also a police force

[16] chioche - special footwear made of goatskin which were worn over very thick, hand-knitted lambs-wool socks, which barely covered the soles of the feet and were secured by long strings also made of goatskin

[17] Giovanni della Casa (28 June 1503 - 14 November 1556) was an Italian poet and writer.
Giovanni della Casa’s description of a gentleman’s deportment, appeared in his book of manners, Il Galateo, 1558
“A man must therefore not be content to do things well but must also aim to do them gracefully.”
He was born in the Mugello district, in Tuscany and studied at Bologna, Florence and Rome; by his learning he attracted the patronage of Alexander Farnese, who, as Pope Paul III, made him nuncio to Florence, where he received the honour of being elected a member of the celebrated academy, and then to Naples, where his oratorical ability brought him considerable success. His reward was the archbishopric of Benevento, and it was believed that it was only his openly licentious poem, Capitoli del forno, and the fact that the French court seemed to desire his elevation, which prevented him from being raised to a still higher dignity. He died in 1556.
Giovanni della Casa is chiefly remarkable as the leader of a reaction in lyric poetry against the universal imitation of Petrarch, and as the originator of a style, which, if less soft and elegant, was more nervous and majestic than that which it replaced.
His prose writings gained great reputation in their own day, and long afterwards, but are disfigured by apparent straining after effect, and by frequent puerility and circumlocution. The principal are in Italian, the famous Il Galateo (1558), a treatise of manners, which has been translated into several languages, and in Latin, De officiis, and translations from Thucydides, Plato and Aristotle. A complete edition of his works was published at Florence in 1707, to which is prefixed a life by Casotti. The best edition is that of Venice, 1752.

[18] Il Galateo (1558), is a treatise of manners, by Giovanni della Casa, which has been translated into several languages, and into Latin, De officiis.. He wrote this very successful treatise upon the request of Galeazzo Florimonte, from whose name the title was taken. The author aimed at writing a handbook, based on a moral order, to provide standards for social behaviour in everyday living.

[19] Kingdom of the Two Sicilies - Southern Italy and the island of Sicily - was the new name that the Bourbon King Ferdinand IV of Naples bestowed upon his domain after the end of the Napoleonic Era and the full restoration of his power in 1816. The capital city of the kingdom was Naples.
(Abruzzo is within this realm – Piedmonte and Florence are not as they are in the “North”.)
History of the name: The name Two Sicilies derived from the splitting of the Kingdom of Sicily in 1282. Though ruled as a unit for a century, the island and mainland parted ways when the Sicilian Vespers rose up and threw off Neapolitan rule, accepting in its stead Aragon. The Angevin Kings of Naples retained the mainland and continued the name Kingdom of Sicily in order to assert their claim; for some time the southern peninsula was known as the Kingdom of Sicily this side of Cape Faro, for the lighthouse on the mainland side of the Strait of Messina, although the Kingdom of Sicily per se did not use the name. The two kingdoms were not under the same ruler until 1735 under Charles (who later became Charles III of Spain), and were not legally reunited until after the 1815 Congress of Vienna.

[20] census – the goods and wealth owned by a person: division by social class based on the census.

[21] Grand Hotel - This magazine used a particular type of matrix for romantic Italian stories, namely the comic strip. Grand Hotel was established in 1946 and rapidly achieved a wide circulation. It soon reached a million copies. Sometimes a joking statement clarifies a phenomenon better than a dissertation. An intelligent, witty maid at that time explained thus:- “My Lady always buys Grand Hotel, she reads it all, and then gives it to me, saying with contempt, that the magazine is only fit for servants”.

[22 ] “scriazzo” (dialect) for “frusta” = whip

[23] Whip – is a tapered flexible length of either a single cord or a plaited (braided) thong made of leather or other material, commonly with a stiff handle. Whips are used to produce a loud sharp sound—a "crack"—to drive or direct livestock or harnessed animals.
When rapidly shaken at the base, whips “crack” and make this loud noise because their tails have broken the sound barrier. The whip is actually the first man-made object to have broken the sound barrier.
Sangrilli used one similar to this :-

Types of Whip: Today there are three main types of whip that are used for work; they fall into one of the three following categories:-

1. Stock Whip 2.                               Bull Whip 3.                                  Snake Whip

The Stock Whip is the classic Australian whip, usually made from Kangaroo leather. The name comes from the handle of the whip which is called the stock. and not from the fact that they were used to control stock or cattle.

The defining feature of a Bull Whip, distinguishing it from a stock whip, is that the handle and the thong are made from the same plait, so essentially it is one unit. The handle is rigid. In Wales and Scotland, shepherds use the sound of the whip to train sheep dogs: signalling with the crack when the dog makes a mistake or gets over enthusiastic. The bullwhip is still used in the cattle industry in some parts of the world, and gives many people an introduction to the sport of whip cracking.
Thanks to Hollywood, the bullwhip is the only one to be well known as it is used by sport whip crackers, and it is known as the whip used by countless cowboys (and cowgirls), as well as characters such as Indiana Jones, Cat Woman, Zorro and many more.

The Snake Whip, or Shot Whip, is a forgotten whip of the cowboy. The Snake lacks the rigid handle of the bull whip, but is otherwise similar; the handle and thong are made out of the same plait and specifically the handle is flexible. This allows it to be tightly coiled (hence the name) and put into a saddle bag. Small ones can even be carried in a jacket pocket. These whips were sometimes favoured by cattlemen working on foot, because they could be carried slung around the neck, available for instant use.
One story is that the snake whip got its name from fireside pranksters who would throw a dark leather whip into the lap of a fellow camper, yelling “snake”. In the dark of the night it would be hard tell the difference between the whip and a real snake, which would give the recipient a fright, but make the other campers laugh.

cliccare a qui per italiano

Ricordi di Torricella/Memories of Torricella