My nonna remembers her childhood in the country village of Nocciano, Abruzzo.
“Of my primary school years I remember going down in an underground room in the countryside, there was a torch to light up the room and keep us warm, my teacher was constantly drunk. I studied until I was 8 years old. I was really keen on moving on with my studies as I’ve always loved learning new things but my dad decided it was just too expensive to maintain his three daughters while getting an education. Money simply wasn’t enough. Every acquaintance close to the family would tell my dad I had a promising future as a student (and I had a strong interest in anything medical despite the very young age) but he didn’t want to disappoint my other sisters privileging me. At school I had to memorise things by heart, there was no explanation at all. My favourite place after school was my aunt’s house at Villa San Giovanni (close to my born village Nocciano). I used to go and visit my aunt and grandma. That house happened to be the meeting point of other people from the same village among whom there was the most talented embroiderer in town, so I began to sew and embroider… I was 8 years old. I loved it!
I used to live a bit outside the village, in any village you could find the mayor, the doctor, the pharmacist and the obstetrician. I remember my dad and my brother Paolo hiding in the haycock or in the manger because the soldiers came regularly to take young and older males with them. It was the time when my mum gave away all the gold in our house as commanded by Mussolini and the podestà (one in each commune).
During my adolescence I used to go out with some friends usually heading to a dance party where a phonograph and an accordion couldn’t miss. Dance parties would take place in family houses and we would dance quattriglie, waltz, tango, polka and sing all together. Alternatively we would go to markets and to attend the Mass. I remember Christmas with my family, the six of us around the fireplace singing traditional songs and playing cards or tombola.
I came to Pescara when I was 22 after my wadding and went to live with nonno. For my wedding my parents had prepared the classic dote (dowry), for me it couldn’t be anything but a good Borletti sewing machine! Your nonno and I immediately opened a tailor shop in the town centre.”
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