WELCOME TO OUR BLOG OF GENZANO IT STORY; THIS BLOG WILL BE USED TO POST OUR OWN TEXT ABOUT GENZANO AND ONE OF ITS CITIZEN STORY, AND TO HOUSE A COLLECTION OF ALL PHOTOS AND ARTICLES ABOUT GENZANO DI LUCANIA THAT WE FIND OR WRITE AND WE THINK THAT ARE WORTH TO POST.
WELCOME TO FRANK MENCHISE BLOG OF GENZANO DI LUCANIA, YOU ARE INVITED TO BROWSE AS LONG AS YOU LIKE.
Welcome to our blog, Genzano it story
and our post, Town heritage, or Genzano heritage chapter.
The Cavallina fountain, in the foreground the large trough where the horses and other large animals would be taken to water, in the background the fountain with several spouts.
This is one of the feasts at the town's fountain
The heritage chapter
In this post we are going to discuss about some history of Genzano di
Lucania, therefore we are going to mention what sort of heritage we inherited in
Genzano di Lucania.
So, let us talk about our heritage; in Genzano there is a chasm called
the Greek chasm, and perhaps we should have called this article, Genzano Greek
chasm heritage, but anyhow, let us discuss here and now about this chasm, which
is the other chasm on the other side of Genzano; for the readers that have not
read our previous hubs I repeat here that the old town of Genzano was built
between two chasms and in our last article we have talked about (Sant Antun)
chasm where the Genzanesi make wine in the caves dug in the walls of the chasm
below the town, but here today we are going to talk about what the local call
the Greek chasm.
So, let us try to explain the name of this Greek chasm; some writers
that have written about Genzano history lately all seem to admit that a very long
time ago the Greek were living here in this part of southern Italy, and
therefore in the chasm that we are going to talk about as well, and that is the
reason why it is called the Greek chasm even today from the elders of Genzano.
There are reasons to believe that it is so if one keeps in mind how the
human race migrated from the Middle East to Europe; and also history tells us
that 700 BC or there about Greece had colonies in southern Italy, which might
have lasted until the Romans took over. So let us assume that the Greeks were
there anyhow, because what is going to follow later on is only going to
reinforce this assumption. As there is also another story about this Madonna of
Genzano that we are going to tell you in our future posts, we can only say here
that this Madonna effigy is very much the effigies that the Greek were making
about the Roman times.
The town history and heritage
Looking at old history books, we have to admit that there is not much
written about Genzano town history in the distant past. However the myth says
that Genzano is very old and it was named from a legend that tells us that a
young guy called Iens (yens) fell in love and eloped with a young princes
called San, they went to live in the caves that were in the chasm below Genzano
and later on started to build the town above the caves a small castle, the name
is virtually the two name of the lovers put together Iens-san (yensan, or
jenzan) I am saying this because I know that in strict dialect of the town even
today it is pronounced Yenzan with no G at the beginning and no O at the end.
Now let us talk for a moment about more recent history that a recent
write has discovered in the archive of Potenza; one of the first times that
Genzano is mentioned in the archives is that of two brothers Secondo and Donato
who were Christian martyr in the year 258 AD, as they were beheaded in Genzano
ordered from council Valeriano, which I guess was a Roman council for that part
of Italy. This seems to be the oldest record found written in Genzano history
and not much else; so, let us go back to the Greek chasm story.
Because in this post we would like to tell or describe to you the chasm
on the other side of Genzano that we call the Greek chasm, we have to say that
this chasm starts about fifty meter from the fountain Cavallina, or perhaps I
should say that at the beginning of the Greek chasm is where the fountain
Cavallina is, then suddenly the chasm becomes very deep and a real chasm; this
part of Genzano is called the Greek chasm, so, by this very name it is
understood that a very long time ago there must have been a colony of Greek
people living there, and perhaps also in the surrounding country side.
About the Greek people and whatever happened to them nobody seems to
know today, as there is no trace of them and there are no records to check
with. So one is forced to assume that very likely that there was a war, or
something of that sort and they were driven out. Or perhaps they just mixed
with the rest of the inhabitants of Genzano and nobody remembers; or perhaps,
as time went by things changed and it became impossible for them to live in the
chasm, because of the erosion and other natural factors which slowly changed
the shape of the chasm, and the use of the chasm.
However nowadays the Greek chasm has been deserted from the people of
Genzano for a long while, because most of the people would be afraid to go into
this chasm, and there are good reasons for it: Apart that it can be dangerous
because of the abrupt drops in the level of the land, it can also be unsanitary
as lots of rubbish used to be dumped into this chasm, and this would include
also the human excrement that used to come out at the bottom of the chasm, when
there was no proper sewer laid in town; and plus most of the men that lived in
the old town when they had to go, they used to go and squat on the shoulders of
the chasm and do it there, in order to save their women folks the extra
sanitary work that they had to carry out: And this unpleasant task I am going
to explain later on how it was done.
In the Greek chasm nowadays there are only a few good caves that can
still be used, and most of the rest have been abandoned because it is
impossible to get at them, since the erosion has made the chasm deeper, so now
some caves are left exposed halfway up the vertical cliff of the chasm.
I believe that the erosion became worse in this chasm because: there is
the fountain Cavallina upstream at the very beginning of the chasm, and also
because, as the town grew larger most of the town’s storm water drainage was
diverted into this chasm, and together with this drainage they built also a
simple and effective sewerage system for the town of those days. The dunghill
masonry was built all underground, except for the opening where they used to
drop the dung, and it was connected through a drain which came out at the
bottom of the chasm. All this may seem ridiculous today, but I am sure that in
those times was seen as a great improvement.
Now at this point I would like to point out to you that there are some
large masonry works in this chasm, because across the chasm there are two
massive masonry walls, and one of them is so massive that seems as if it wants
to hold the banks of the chasm apart. These two walls have been built for
several purposes in mind, and the most important one would be to prevent any
landslide which would endanger this part of the town, and to stop the erosion
that could undermine this part of the town, and also to hide the drainage and
sewer system. So the only thing that could be seen of the sewer system was only
a large barred opening about three feet square at ground level, which was
situated a short walking distance from the town’s fountain Cavallina; and this
archaic but effective old sewer system was still being used when I was young.
Not from my family, because we were lucky enough as we were connected to the
modern sewer system long before I was born. But it still was used only from
those less fortunate people in the community, which for some reasons of their
own had not been able to connect to the modern town’s sewer yet, so they had to
use the old system as it was done in the old days and this was the most hated
job of them all.
The most hated job of them all
Before we start to tell you about the most hated job of them all, we
would like to point out to the modern generation to compare those times and the
ways that even the best people had to make do, in order to live a decent life
then; today all this may seem crazy even to talk about it, but in those times
that was how most things were done.
Now looking back at the time when I was young, I still remember how the
unspeakable job was done, from the women folks of those last unfortunate
families that were still using the old sewer system, they had to do this
horrible job two or three times a week, and they would feel so ashamed while
they were doing it, and what a shame it was compared to nowadays living standard.
Now that I am older and wiser I would have felt sorry for those women
that had to use the old sewer system: But them as a young man; I and my
teenager male friends thought that it was very funny, when we would see in the
evening just before dusk, a couple of women per household come out of their
houses with their own dung balanced on their head so to speak. One of them
would carry this round and wide rimmed ceramic container balanced on her head,
the other would be carrying a bucket and a sort of little broom which was a
sort of brush with a long handle.
They would be coming out of their houses, and they would try to go the
back ways as much as they could, and try to be invisible if they could as they
didn’t want to be seen. Can you just imagine some teenager girls doing this low
and unspeakable service, while some teenager boys would be prying on them from
a distance? What a shame! Those girls must have felt terrible to say the least,
only because they were doing the most hated job of them all, which was to dispose
of their own human excrement; but, it was necessary and inevitable. Anyhow when
they reached the square opening of the sewer, they would help each other to
bring the contains down from their heads and would throw the dung down the
square hole; and then the one with the bucket would go to the fountain and
bring a bucket of water to wash the ceramic container. And finally return to
their homes relieved that their dirty job was done, and they would be all right
for a few more days.
Can you just imagine any young girls that are living today to do such a
shameful job, I have nothing else to say but just compare. So, when old people
say that today generations are better off and lucky to be born now and not then,
they are telling us the truth, because I am pretty sure that there is no one
that would volunteer to do that job.
See you next time, where we are going to tell you about the Madonna