Their daily activities consisted mainly of working, living off the produce of the land and animals, selling things that they produced including wine, animals and fruits. Other than direct barter between neighbors the sales would usually take place at fairs generally held on Sundays at one of the towns. The fairs would rotate from town to town thereby allowing the different towns to have equal opportunities. Merchant would come from surrounding villages and bring in manufactured goods to supply things they could not produce. The small towns were self-sufficient for edibles including milk and cheese and also wood for heating and cooking.
The sheep herders who lived higher up in the mountains also came to sell milk, cheese, wool and animals for breeding or butchering. These people carried bagpipes and on approaching the towns would play their tunes to attract the people. They might stay a day or two and sleep in the rough with their sheep. Water had to be retrieved from wells or public fountain or natural springs. These were not always located close by and it was the job of the young girls to get jugs of water and carry them home, usually on the top of their heads without holding the jugs because the hands would be busy doing knitting while walking. This produced women straight lean and tall with no back problems. (maybe) Evening lighting in the houses consisted mostly of candles, oil lamps or light from the fire place. Sanitary facilities were the most primitive. you went outside or in the stable or used a chamber pot. Stables might be located under the house as this afforded close proximity and also kept the lower floor warm from the heat of the animals. Diversions were mostly get together with the neighbors or the entire town going to church for processions that would go through the cultivated fields as mentioned before.
The women would involve themselves in sewing or repairing their clothes and those that could read would do so while the others listened. They were congenial communities provided a good living acceptable to those who had not seen better. At times when the crops were poor or the weather bad or adversity affected a family through sickness or death, frustration affected everyone. Compassion from friends and relatives was the only way out. Artisans like cobblers would come to town, as not all towns had one, and those who needed repairs or new shoes, would ask them to come to their house and do the work. If necessary stay with them for a day or two until the work was completed and then move on to another house. Repairs to their houses were mostly self-performed with help of the neighbors. The people were very religious but that did not stop the men from swearing. While the men brought down all the saints from heaven the women were praying for their salvation. When events are beyond our comprehension we either pray to God for his help or swear at him for not coming to our help.
Some customs or practices we had then still remain with us to this day. One being that on Christmas eve the shepherds would come down from the mountains with their bagpipes and enliven the town for the happy occasion. We had a version of this in Montreal with our landlord Signor Orazio Zenga. We will describe this later. Life up to the first world war was simple but pleasant and manageable. After the war the economy became very bad the necessities of life were always much below what was needed, including food, medication and clothing. Now begins the era of the great exodus to Canada, the United States, South America, and Australia. The same thing was happening to other European countries not forgetting the Jews who were expelled from Poland and Russia. Roberto's dream was approaching fulfillment, and in 1925 he came to Montreal and the rest of the family followed in 1927. We left the land of sunshine leaving many relatives never to be seen again. We left sunny Naples with its romantic songs, joyful people, abundance of wine and fruits of many types, leaving behind a land so exhausted the it could no feed its inhabitants, cold housing with no heating no running water no sanitary facilities a serious depression that set in after the war and now the rise of fascism with Mussolini taking power in 1922. Like the exodus from Egypt we went to the promised land. We were going to Canada with the hope of starting a new life with unlimited opportunities all in equal measure to the effort the individual put into it. We were not deceived in our hopes and are thankful to have been accepted in this great country.