Home | Valente and DiRenzo Family History - From Our Correspondent in Geneva

New Postcard View of Gambatesa (circa 1960s)

Angelo Abiuso wrote:

Another "nice" view of the village. As usual it is an old postcard because in Gambatesa they haven't made any new postcards since decades!

At the store the lady told Angelo that they don't plan to make any new postcards until they have sold all the old ones. (The postcard is postmarked Pescara CMP (central sorting center), 3 August 2012, but its postage is from Termoli.) But, well, it is a nice old view of the village, and so it has been added to the Web site.

Postcard panorama of the village of Gambatesa, Molise, Italy, 48 KB

From the back of the card:
Gambatesa (Campobasso)
Panorama mt. 468 [meters above sea level]
5050 - Prop. Ris. Jadarola Francesco - Rip. Vietata

"Books were for the Gentry": Ordinary people knew only about the countryside and about their fellow villagers

Angelo's Zio Francesco, the son of Zio Angelo, who now lives in Termoli (In the 1970s Termoli was going from being a village to being a city and so people found work there) but who grew up in Gambatesa, thought this postcard was from before the 1960s, because there is a line of trees on the hill that are no longer there. "These oak trees were cut in th 1960s"; he could recognize even what type of trees there were on the postcard. He grew up in the countryside and he knew every stone, every path, all the shortcuts, every owner of every field, everything you can find in the countryside. He knew who has a well in his field; he knew all the wells. This was what people used to know; they were an encyclopedia of the neighbors; they knew everything about each family.

They did not read books, and only a very few people read newspapers. And there was nothing to read (There were no libraries), and they did not even have the idea to read. They were like the Inuit who have many words to describe the snow and the ice, because these are what they deal with. And in Gambatesa it was this way. There was no television, nothing except things from the countryside. If I were Silone I would say, "Libri were for signori and not for cafoni." The peasants never read a book except at school. When the people from those days read, they don't read in their mind; they whisper the words like children do; people who are not really accustomed to reading do this.

Before the road was built in the Fondo Valle

Angelo's father and his father's friend from Gambatesa (who now lives in France just across the border from Geneva) were talking about after World War Two, the 1950s and 60s, and how before the building of the road in the Fondo Valle, Gambatesa was like a small city. That was because in those days the only way to go from (the provincial capital city) Campobasso to (the provincial capital city) Foggia was Via Nazionale Appula (also called "Via Appulo-Sannitica" and "Strada Statale No. 17" -- on the 1955-57 map of Gambatesa, look just southeast of the village). So that people going from the north south to Foggia were forced to pass through these villages: Gildone, Jelsi, (maybe also Riccia), and Gambatesa. And so life in the village was very different. There was a theater on Via Nazionale Sannitica (another name for S.S. No. 17), a cinema; there was lots of social life. Even early in the morning, at 6, 7 in the morning, there were lots of people in the streets of Gambatesa. And when they built the road in the Fondo Valle (See the road from Campobasso that passes to the north of these villages; it continues into Puglia passing to the south of S. Marco la Catola), it really killed these villages (They said it really "killed" the village), because you did not need to go to them anymore.

There was many "foreigners" in Gambatesa in those days -- anyone who was not from the village of Gambatesa was called a foreigner (forestiero, or in dialect fruster[e]). There is an Italian word foresteria meaning "a hotel for foreigners", although in Gambatesa they use the word taverna. So there were taverne both in and outside the village. There were taverne in the Fondo Valle near the tratturi; these were for shepherds, people traveling using the tratturi. And the taverne in the village were for people who were coming to sell or buy things and had to stay a few days, or for travelers staying just the night, who were using the main road.


The URL of this Web page: https://www.roangelo.net/valente/newoldgb.html
Last revised: 14 October 2012 : 2012-10-14 by Robert [Wesley] Angelo.

Back to top of page

Home | Site Map | Site Search | Map showing Gambatesa, a village in central southern Italy | Valente and DiRenzo Family History - More From Our Correspondent in Geneva