Sunday, December 4, 2011

Genzano the old town

Genzano the old town
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Genzano the old town
In Southern Italy and also in many European countries, lots of medieval towns were built on a rugged hill, or something similar for reason of safety, as we all know that in ancient times and in the Middle Ages towns had to be built in such positions, in order to make it hard for the enemy to get into town, and easy for the inhabitants to defend the town from aggressions.
Therefore even today the very old and partly still existing Genzano of the thirteenth century or there about, is built on a strip of land which is situated between two chasms, and these chasms are situated at the edge of a high plateau 588 meters above sea level; and the modern Genzano is a continuation of the ancient part of this town, which has kept steadily growing onto the high plateau itself up to the present days. Of course the town of Genzano has existed for a very long time before that, as we will find out as we write about Genzano, but there is not a lot of physical left to talk about it today.  
In the beginning, because of the nature of the terrain of the high plateau which was sandy at one end, allowed the rainwater to erode the soil easily away, forming two chasms of considerable depth; which by memory I would consider them to be 30 meter plus in depth. So Genzano that part of the ancient town was built on the remains of the edge of an old high plateau, which the rainwaters had slowly dug and taken away the soil downstream, leaving a high strip of land which was narrowing till the chasms met. And upon this triangular and narrow piece of high land, the inhabitant of Genzano began to build their own town. There is also a story of who started to build Genzano, but that I have to leave for another time.
Anyhow before they built their own town, they must have been living somewhere else, and they must have overgrown the place where they were living in, and for this reason they started building their own town. Now, the only place that they could have been living in was in the caves in the chasm, which they themselves as the first and permanent inhabitants of this region had dug in the walls of the chasms
The walls of the chasms being Tufaceous and very compact, and sandy in nature with a few layers of sandstone at different levels, it had been possible for the first inhabitant to dig in the walls of the chasms and make a cave. And the caves although they are large they are reasonably safe from cave-ins; an average cave could be 6 or 7 meters wide, and 6 or 7 meters high at the entrance, and some twenty meters long becoming a bit smaller at the far end.
Now if you stop and think just for a moment, how hard it must have been to dig in the walls of the chasms in order to make caves, and then also to carry all the soil outside and away from the caves, even if they used to dump the soil at the bottom of the chasms, and then wait for a good torrential rain to take away the soil downstream, it would really be a mammoth of a job to dig those caves.
So here I can easily say and demonstrate that life is and always will be a struggle, as it was a struggle even then to dig those caves. And I believe that perhaps life then was much harder than nowadays. Because to hand excavate those caves must have been hard work indeed, and it must have taken them ages and millions of men’s hours, as there are lots of caves in the chasms, in fact it could be that there are one hundred caves in Genzano territory. Now because all this happened a very long time ago, nobody these days seems to know who they were the first inhabitant of the chasms, or where they came from, and how many of these caves they made in the beginning.
They might have been just a group of shepherds grazing their herds, and having found a sort of shelter in the chasm, from the cold winds or rain in winter times, they stopped there and tried to improve this natural shelter; so they started to dig these caves for themselves and for their flocks. Or they could have been people that were fleeing away from their enemies, and having found a sort of shelter in the shape of the chasms, they stopped there and made it their home. Really they could be both, and perhaps even more different groups of people.
Today one of the chasms is still called the Greek chasm from the elders of Genzano, and this means that at least sometime in the past people from Greece have lived there, or owned one of the chasms since they were living there. About the Greek people there is still another story, which is somehow different in nature from what I am trying to say at this moment, so I will have to come back to it later on, when I am ready to tell you the story of the Greek chasm and the Madonna story.
But now I would like to tell you, about when the inhabitant of the caves started to build their own houses on this strip of land at the top of the chasms; which later on would become the town of Genzano, and which was named very likely after one of their leaders, or perhaps it is indeed an ancient name, as I am going to tell you in my next hub. Therefore the time that Genzano came into existence as a town for the first time nobody knows but in my next hub that I am going to call, Genzano history, I am going to describe what I believe happened. So, see you there.