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The town I came from

Updated on August 2, 2018

A photo of Genzano di Lucania and its old square castle

Genzano di Lucanoa with the old castle in the backgrout today used as a (municipio) town hall. Genzano is a very old town with an history of its own. Which we are going to tell part of it while I write my life story.
Genzano di Lucanoa with the old castle in the backgrout today used as a (municipio) town hall. Genzano is a very old town with an history of its own. Which we are going to tell part of it while I write my life story.

An areal photo of Genzano

Genzano di Lucania photo, it does not look much seen from the air. But Genzano is one of those town that has an history of its own, as most other old towns do. Anyhow this is the town that I come from.
Genzano di Lucania photo, it does not look much seen from the air. But Genzano is one of those town that has an history of its own, as most other old towns do. Anyhow this is the town that I come from.

Asking where do we come from?

The town that I have come from

Welcome to my article (23) Genzano is the town I came from

Dear readers, if you happen to be an emigrant, lots of people will be asking you where you come from? Sometimes it is enough to name the country you came from, at other times you need to be more specific and tell them the town you came from. So, let me go straight to the point and tell you that Genzano is the town I have come from. Now, this town of Genzano might not be very important in the world, but it is my native town, so, I am proud of my native town. Anyhow, when we are in a foreign country, I believe that it does not matter where we come from originally, we are always proud of our heritage; we should be proud of it, because it makes us feel important and not run down, therefore, it would be foolish to think otherwise.

But, we who had to leave our native towns, hoping to find a better way of life somewhere else, we seem to have our own problems, when we are asked this question where we come from, we would like to avoid a straight answer, for fear that the people that are asking us, do that to upset us. Apart from that we feel that this question has many meanings and many answers as well, as it could even be a philosophical question meaning where we human have come from, or if we come from another country, if it is obvious that we could be foreigners. So, we should choose which question we have to answer to, while in our mind we think about the answers we must give to the question that has been asked.

While we try to answer their question the best way we can, we start thinking about our own fife journey and indeed about the town that we have come from. Then, while we continue to talk and answer their question; we may start thinking that we might be born with our own destiny, since we see that there were certain reasons why we left our native town, at least some of us might believe we do have a destiny, because we would like to believe that it is so. You see for this reason I believe that somehow my own destiny has played a part and has taken me away from my native town. Some people may say that since you left your town for your own personal reasons, you would forget about your native town altogether, and you would not say a word about it, since this town could not give you what you wanted when you were young, since you left your native town to find a better life somewhere else.

Some people might think that you don’t like your native town, and that is the reason why you left it; but it is not like that at all, because wherever you are born and grow up it is going to be your native town for the rest of your life. You see, every one of us is proud of its native town or country where we are born, if we were not proud of our heritage we would be unworthy of ourselves, so, I hope that you my readers understand, why I would like to talk about Genzano my native home town. After all, Genzano di Lucania is really a good town that one could be proud to have come from, so, let us talk about Genzano di Lucania the town that I come from.

Where is Genzano di Lucania in Basilicata, Italy located?

Click on the link above to see the map, another map is in our hub, Genzano di Lucania.

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Genzano di Lucania, the Corso

This is one of the main street of Genzano, it is called the 'Corso'; in this photo it seems deserted, but there are special times, when most people all dressed up stroll up and down just to see who is there and be seen, it is like a parade.
This is one of the main street of Genzano, it is called the 'Corso'; in this photo it seems deserted, but there are special times, when most people all dressed up stroll up and down just to see who is there and be seen, it is like a parade. | Source
One of the main events of this town is the feast of this Madonna. Here is the statue of this Madonna in front of the church, while they are getting ready to be take her out in a procession around town.
One of the main events of this town is the feast of this Madonna. Here is the statue of this Madonna in front of the church, while they are getting ready to be take her out in a procession around town. | Source

The town where I have come from

Dear readers, allow me to describe to you the town where I was born and lived when I was young, and then I had to leave it; because of the changes that were occurring at that time. You see, it would not have been financially sound to continue to work in our small family farm; so, I left our farm and migrated to Australia. Now, I would like to talk about my native town, so that you could understand the ways that we used to live in this town, at the time when I was young; after all we want also to compare the ways of living of those time with today’s ways of living: we would like to do that not only to compare the difference, but also because you may perceive and feel my life story in the same way and depth as I have perceived and felt it, while I was living my young life at that place and at that time. About my life in the farm I have already written several articles and some of them you can check them out at these addresses:

My life my struggles, An old man life story , A man life journey, An old man story, My farm life experience, and there are more.

As we were saying the town that we are talking about here is the town where I was born and lived my youth before I came to Australia, its name is Genzano di Lucania.

Therefore, let us go back to the time when I was young, so that I could describe to you the town and their costumes, so that, you may be able to understand the ways that these people have lived their lives for centuries; And therefore the reason why they were living the way they were living at the time when I was young. Now because I was born there I was caught in their own ways of living, which left a lot to be desired for, if one compares it to the ways that we live our lives in Australia today, and also most of the advanced countries in the world.

The town where I came from happens to be situated in Southern Italy; its name is ‘Genzano’ but its full name is ‘Genzano Di Lucania’, to distinguish it from ‘Genzano di Roma’. But when we talk about this town, we talk about Genzano, and this causes a curious fact of life here in Australia, because to most people living in Australia the name of ‘Genzano’ sounds very much like ‘Cinzano’ which is a famous wine brand. So, they start asking questions whether my native town is the town where such a good wine originated. But unfortunately, ‘Genzano’ the town which I have come from has got nothing to do with that famous wine brand. Although we had and still have some good vineyards in the town territory, and they make good wines, and here we must add that also my family owned some vineyards at the time when I was young, from which we used to make good wines. The wine that our family made from our vineyards was mainly for our own family use, but usually it was more than our family would use, so, we would sell the extra wine locally. I will tell you more about this wine making in another article, here is the link to check it out: Wine making the old ways

But talking about wines and wine making, it makes me think of something very unusual and scenic in this town of Genzano, which people from outside town and not familiar with this sort of set up would be amazed to see. (Check our article, Wine making the old way in the subtitle, life and sound of the chasm). Now, if we were to say that the people of Genzano make their wines inside cellars, which are large caves, dug in the walls of a chasm, you may be forgiven to imagine that there are cavemen living there; but let us imagine how all this wine making in the cave came about, in this southern region of Italy. To understand that, let us look at the ancient towns of this region of Italy.

The caves and the town castle

The caves called (grotte) in the native language, in ancient times lots of people used to live in these caves including their flocks of sheep or other animals. What you see here is only a small portion if the caves in an easy to approach place.
The caves called (grotte) in the native language, in ancient times lots of people used to live in these caves including their flocks of sheep or other animals. What you see here is only a small portion if the caves in an easy to approach place.
Some of the caves entrance seen from outside
Some of the caves entrance seen from outside

This is one of Genzano castle

This is the old castle of Genzano, it has been used as the town hall (Municipio) the old folks of Genzano still call it the castle.
This is the old castle of Genzano, it has been used as the town hall (Municipio) the old folks of Genzano still call it the castle. | Source

The old towns of southern Italy

So now, let us go back one more step in time; to those ancient times when people of this region used to live in the caves, not only in Genzano, but also in other towns of this region, so, here we are trying to understand what has happened in the past, from the things that are still existing today, so, to understand our history let us look at what we can see today.

In the old continent of Europe as well as in Southern Italy, 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. Today some of these towns are a sight to see like this photo that I have come across on the Internet. This here under is one of the scenic towns of southern Italy; it is a bit like my home town of Genzano.

Very old town Matera

And here I quote;

It seems as though everyone in this region moved into caves, which came to be known as i sassi (stones). You would think Sasso Caveoso and Sasso Barisano (which begin at Piazza V. Veneto) were just typical Italian hilltowns until you realize the "houses" are all windowless grottoes with damp walls and earthen floors, where the family's animals slept side-by-side with the humans.

Far from being uncivilized, these rock towns had intricate hydraulic systems that kept water fresh and cool year round. Eventually the caves gained façades and roofs, but the interiors remained virtually unchanged. Nearly 15,000 people were still living in them in 1952, when the government finally declared them unhealthy and outlawed their use. There are several places where you can visit a typically furnished sasso: the most indicative is probably the one at Vico Solitario 12, in Sasso Caveoso.

End Of quote:

Dear readers, we have taken the liberty of showing you another place in southern Italy, so that in a way it shows you the way that some people of this region used to live a long time ago, the reason for doing this is to show you that Genzano the town I have come from has a similar story, but the inhabitant of the caves of Genzano left the caves a long time ago to live in the town. So, let us go back to talk about Genzano again.

Ancient towns of Italy one of the oldest part of Matera town

This is an old part of very old town of Matera I am not sure it might be called palazzo Lanfranchi, but it does not matter what is its name, it is still a very old and scenic place in the region of Southern Italy
This is an old part of very old town of Matera I am not sure it might be called palazzo Lanfranchi, but it does not matter what is its name, it is still a very old and scenic place in the region of Southern Italy | Source

Photo of Matera old town

This photo of Matera town, shows us how they used to built then, they tried to build everything close together, so that they would be able to defend themselves if they were attacked from the enemy.
This photo of Matera town, shows us how they used to built then, they tried to build everything close together, so that they would be able to defend themselves if they were attacked from the enemy. | Source

Another old monument, Saint Peter caveoso Matera

Very old church in Matera Saint Peter caveoso, as the name suggests part of it has been dug out inside the rocks, or sassi as they are called over there, but there is more dug out in Matera, and this is all explained if you read our text.
Very old church in Matera Saint Peter caveoso, as the name suggests part of it has been dug out inside the rocks, or sassi as they are called over there, but there is more dug out in Matera, and this is all explained if you read our text. | Source

Old existing Genzano town

This is the very old Genzano town perched on a small high piece of land between two chasms. At the front of the picture is the old Monastery Annunziata and its garden beside it.
This is the very old Genzano town perched on a small high piece of land between two chasms. At the front of the picture is the old Monastery Annunziata and its garden beside it.

The old Genzano town

Here we need to say that the history of the existence of Genzano the town I come from is very ancient, as there is some evidence that the town of Genzano already existed when Christianity began in the Roman times. Some historian says that perhaps were the Romans that started Genzano town about the VI century BC when they had this ‘Pagus Gentianum settlement to control this part of their territory, there are other stories also. But in this story that we are talking about here is that very old and part of Genzano of the thirteenth century or there about that 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.

In the old continent of Europe as well as in Southern Italy, lots of medieval towns were built on a rugged hill for safety reasons, some of these people that went to live in these towns were people that used to live nearby, in all sorts of rugged accommodations, some of these rugged accommodation could have been caves where the terrain was right to have caves, so, some of them used to live in these caves, but they were not real cavemen, as they were just people who later on became the inhabitants of the towns. Also, the town of Genzano has a similar story and a large part of its inhabitants came from these caves below the town itself. And here we would like to describe in general terms, if you don’t mind us telling you the ancient nature of these caves, the terrain where they stand, and perhaps take an educated guess why these caves were made there in the first place, who made them and why they have been made there.

In the beginning of current Era, 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. Anyhow, the ancient Genzano town was built on the remains on 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, for safety reasons.

But before they built or rebuilt their own town of Genzano, some of these people must have been living somewhere else, and they must have overgrown the place where they were living in, and this was part of the reason they started building their house in Genzano town. Now, the place that they could have been living in was in the caves in the chasm, which their forbears as the first and permanent inhabitants of this region had dug in the walls of the chasms.

The walls of the chasms being Tuffaceous 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 we 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 we 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 caves in the chasms, or where they came from, and how many of these caves they made in the beginning, so let us guess who could they be?

A shepherd crazing his sheep

One shepherd with a small flock of sheep, these might be the first people that were living in the caves, and later on moved to live in the town
One shepherd with a small flock of sheep, these might be the first people that were living in the caves, and later on moved to live in the town

Who could they be

Who could these people be?

The first inhabitant of this region might have been just a group of shepherds, who were 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 a few 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 another story to tell, which is somehow different in nature from what we are trying to say at this moment, so, we will have to come back to it later, when we are ready to tell you the story of the Greek chasm in this article, Genzano Greek chasm and Madonna story

But now we want to tell you, about when the inhabitant of the caves 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 there is a legend about two lovers (Yens and San, since even today in the local dialect this name of Genzano is pronounced Yensan) or was it this Roman name of Pagus Gentianum that slowly changed to Genzano, we can only guess, therefore the name of the town and the time when Genzano came into existence as a town for the first time nobody knows; in another article that we are going to call, Genzano di Lucania history, we are going to describe what we believe happened. So, see you there.

Anyhow whatever we can say about our own native town, whether we like it or not when somebody asks me, where have you come from? I will say, Genzano is the town I came from.

That is all for this article; See you soon, in another article where we are talking about things that I experienced in my native town.

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© 2011 F-Menchise

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