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The town I came from

Updated on May 23, 2019

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?

Welcome to our article (23) the town I came from

Dear readers, let me tell you, Genzano is the town I have come from. Now, this town of Genzano is not important in the world, but it is my native town, so, I am proud of it. Anyhow, when we are in a foreign country, I believe that it does not matter where we come from, we are always proud of our heritage; we should be proud of it, because it makes us feel important and not run down.

But we who had to leave our native towns, to find a better way of life somewhere else, we have our own small problems wherever we go, because when we are asked this question where we come from, we want to avoid a straight answer, for fear that the people that are asking us want to upset us. Apart from that we feel that this question has many meanings, it can be a philosophical question meaning where we human have come from, or if we come from another country. So, we are careful to answer that.

While we try to answer their question the best way we can, we start thinking about our own fife journey and about the town that we have come from; in my case I would answer I have come from Genzano di Lucania; so, Genzano is the town I came from. Then, while we continue to answer their questions; we start thinking that we might be born with our own destiny, since we left our native town, at least some of us believe that we have a destiny. You see for this reason I believe that my destiny has played a part and has taken me away from my native town.

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 dear readers understand why sometimes I would like to talk about Genzano my native home town. After all, Genzano di Lucania is really a good town that one can 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 article, 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 the town where I was born, lived when I was young and later I left, because of the changes that were occurring at that time, because it was not financially sound to continue to work this small family farm; so, I left our farm and migrated to Australia. Now, I want to talk about my native town, so that you can understand the ways that we used to live in this town when I was young. We want to do that to compare the difference, and because you may perceive and feel my life story in the same way and depth as I have felt it, while I was living my young life at that place. About my life in the farm I have written several articles and 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.

Anyhow, let us go back to the time when I was young, to describe the town and their costumes, so, we can understand the ways that these people have lived their lives for centuries; 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 ways of living, which left a lot to be desired for, if we compare it to the ways that we live in Australia today.

The town where I came from is situated in Southern Italy; its full name is ‘Genzano Di Lucania’, to distinguish it from ‘Genzano di Roma’. But when we talk about Genzano, it causes a curious fact 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.

The wine that we made from our vineyards was mainly for our family use, but usually it was more than our family used, so, we would sell the extra wine locally. I will tell you more about this wine making in another article: 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.

Now, if we were to say that the people of Genzano make their wines inside large caves, dug in the walls of a chasm, you may imagine that there are cavemen too living in these caves, 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

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, as we are going to see in the following explanation

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 know 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 similar to 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 showed you this place in southern Italy, to show to you the way that some people of this region used to live for a long time, 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 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 is very ancient, as there is some evidence that the town of Genzano existed when Christianity began in the Roman times. Some historian says that the Romans started Genzano town about the VI century BC when they had this ‘Pagus Gentianum settlement to control this part of their territory. But in this story we are talking about Genzano of the thirteenth century or there about; it is built on a strip of land 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.

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 lived nearby in rugged accommodations, these rugged accommodation could have been caves where the terrain was right to dig caves, but they were not real cavemen, as they were just people who later 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 the ancient nature of these caves, the terrain where they stand, and take an educated guess why these caves were made, and who made them.

In the beginning of this 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 forming two deep chasms; which by memory I consider to be 30 meter plus in depth. So, the ancient part of Genzano 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.

But before they built their own town of Genzano, these people must have been living somewhere else. It is most likely that they were living in the caves of 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 large caves are reasonably safe from cave-ins; an average cave can 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 to think for a moment, how hard it must have been to dig in the walls of the chasms to make caves, it must have been a mammoth of a job to dig those caves.

So, we can easily say that life is a struggle, as it was a struggle even then to dig those caves. In fact, we believe that life then was much harder than today. Because to hand excavate those caves must have been hard work, 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 this happened a long time ago, nobody knows who the first inhabitant of the caves were, or where they came from, and how many of these caves they made in the beginning.

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

We believe that the first inhabitant of this region was a group of shepherds grazing their herds, and having found shelter from the cold winds or rain in the chasm, 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 were 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.

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. About the Greek people there is still another story, which is somehow different in nature from what we are trying to say at this moment, so, we will come back later to tell you about;

Genzano Greek chasm and Madonna story

But now we want to tell you, about when the inhabitants of the caves build their own houses on this strip of land at the top of the chasms; which later became the town of Genzano.

Now there is a legend about the name of Genzano; there were two lovers (Yens and San, since in the local dialect 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 nobody knows.

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

That is all for this article; See you soon.

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© 2011 F-Menchise

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