Home | Valente and DiRenzo Family History - From Our Correspondent in Geneva (Angelo Abiuso)

Farmhouse Roof, Gambatesa

These are the ruins of the farmhouse in which Angelo's Valente grandmother grew up near Piana delle Noci.  They show the old way of life in Gambatesa, a way of life as ancient as Rome.

Ruins of the Abiuso farmhouse, Gambatesa, 40 KB

The photograph below shows the ceiling of the farmhouse: first came wooden sticks (in Italian canna -- in English "canes" as in "sugarcane"), and then soil or earth or concrete was put over the wood, and then tiles over that to keep out the rain.  This is how roofs used to be made in Gambatesa; it is a method that dates back at least to Roman times.

Farmhouse roof, Gambatesa, 32 KB

The photograph below shows both the old wooden doorway and the stone work that went into building a farmhouse.

Farmhouse's stone lentil, Gambatesa, 31 KB

Photographs by Angelo Abiuso, 19 July 2006, 9 AM.

Related Pages:

When Time Stood Still: the Timelessness of Gambatesa

Angelo Abiuso wrote (7 August 2006):

Did you see the pictures I sent of La masseria s'derrubatte?  It was my great-grandfather's farm house, the father of my Valente grandmother, Luigina Abiuso who married Francesco Valente.

A friend of mine in Geneva looked at the pictures and said, "It looks just like my father's house in Algeria with the bamboo under the roof and the Roman tiles."  And afterwards he said, "Mare Nostrum."  We discovered that our fathers grew up more or less the same way: no shoes, looking after the family's sheep ...

Shepherd's Cheese

Both my father in Italy and my friend's father in Algeria when they were young and looking after the sheep and goats, when they were hungry they would take a little of the animals' milk and look for a fig tree.  Because to make cheese you need something acid like lemon juice to curdle the milk into solid curds and liquid whey, and the sap like where you break a fig off the tree is very acid (But the sap is slightly toxic; too much will make you sick).  My father would add 2-4 drops of sap to the warm milk, then shake the milk and it turned into white cheese -- looking like Petit-Suisse ("cream cheese"), soft with a bit of liquid on top before it is stirred -- that tastes sweeter than ricotta.

If he did not have a glass to make the cheese in, my father would cut a section of bamboo (the same as used for the roof), put the milk into the hollow chamber, close the open end with his fingers and shake the bamboo.  When he slid the cheese out -- it kept the shape of the bamboo cylinder -- and then he ate the cheese.

After the war (and probably before) when there was near-starvation in the village boys including my father took pears and apples -- and people would yell at the boys for stealing.  There were gamekeepers (like in England) in Gambatesa with rifles; they worked for the comune, like police, but people gave them money to watch their fields as well, and my father said that the boys had to look out for these people too.

Giovanni Valente (1887-1969) grew up just as Angelo's father did: "no shoes, looking after the sheep".  Gambatesa was suspended in time, without change for sixteen centuries, as in the photograph and stories of threshing wheat in Gambatesa.  It was only in the 1970s that things really began to change: the children of Gambatesa today in no way share their grandparents' way of life.

The URL of this Web page: https://www.roangelo.net/valente/pertetto.html
Last revised: 14 March 2007 : 2007-03-14 by Robert [Wesley] Angelo.

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