mercoledì, giugno 08, 2011

Le mie tre città

Durante la mia ultima visita alla casa madre nordcarolinese oltre che con la presentazione impegnativa avevo intrattenuto i miei colleghi anche con una bagattella sulla mia cultura e le mie tre "hometowns". I presenti parvero apprezzare e mi proposero di ricavarne un articolo per la "newsletter" gloable del dipartimento. Pensai che lo facessero soprattutto per gentilezza. Alla fine comunque, avendo trovato un po' di tempo nelle ultime settimane, l'ho scritto.
Il giorno dopo la pubblicazione i responsabili per le comunicazioni interne dell'azienda mi hanno selezionato l'articolo per metterlo sul sito gloable interno di tutta l'azienda, accessibile a circa diecimila dipendenti sparsi per il mondo.
La cosa interessante è che insieme a questo articolo che parlava di cose mie personali - e che mentre scrivevo continuavo a chiedermi: ma perché al collega sconosciuto di Manila dovrebbe interessare dove io ho trascorso la mia infanzia - ho anche pubblicato un articolo che parlava della nostra recente riunione. Bene. Il secondo articolo non se lo è filato nessuno. Per il primo invece ho ricevuto decine di email di complimenti che mi dicevano quanto gli era piaciuto l'articolo, le foto, i cibi, gli olivi, la storia (Twitter-like history of Rome:-), e "last but not least" (concedetemi il francesismo ;-) uno dei megadirettori dello sviluppo mi ha chiesto in che modo avrebbe potuto ottenere l'olio di mio padre. Un'altro mi ha addirittura scritto:
"We were in Sicilia and Roma last year, and loved it. But I think we must go to Scandriglia on our next trip: it looks fascinating!!!".
E un'altra:
"After reading your interestingarticle, it left me thinking, “I want to go there  -  all 3 places”. Thank you for sharing this with us.  I love the history of the olive tree and how/where you grew up.  I can also smell the food. :-) Looks delicious!  You’re an excellent writer."
Quindi alla fine ho assolto anche il mio dovere di ex membro della proloco conquistando aspiranti turisti per il mio paesello e acquirenti per l'olio dei suoi olivi.

Ecco l'articolo:

My first home town is a small village of approximately 3000 inhabitants named Scandriglia [skandreeʎia] and located about 50 km northeast of Rome. (Google Pictures) (map).

After the Second World War, Italy experienced an industrial revolution known as the Italian economic miracle. This twenty-year phase of uninterrupted economic growth triggered a profound social change across the country, transforming Italy from a mainly rural nation, into a major industrial power. This change was much more rapid in urban areas compared to rural ones. But, compared to other rural areas and in spite of being very close to the Italian capital, Scandriglia was much more impermeable to this social change and remained relatively outside its orbit, one possible reason being its mountainous terrain.
That’s how I came to grow up in an environment still full of traditions and habits coming from an agrarian society and culture. Given these facts it is not a surprise that childbirth at home was still the norm in my village until about 1975; and, as a matter of fact, I was born at home.
At this point you should have enough information to try to guess the answer to this question. Which was the main means of agricultural transportation when I was a child?
It was...

Well, that’s not completely true. There were tractors as well. However, donkeys and mules were still largely used by my grandparent’s generation. And, like the children in the picture, I also enjoyed the ride in the barrels, to reach the vineyard for the harvest.
Although most families had a small vineyard, wine was not the main agricultural product in Scandriglia.
As you can see from the picture, the countryside surrounding Scandriglia is full of olive trees. The obvious consequence is that olive oil was and still is the main agricultural product. Almost every family owns a small piece of ground with 50-100 trees for the family needs. Other families own larger pieces of ground and sell their oil as well. My father owns about 250 trees and in the best seasons produces up to 1000 Kg oil in the local cooperative oil mill.
Unfortunately, the donkeys have nowadays disappeared and in the picture below you can see what many people use now.

Many people … but not my father! He says the trees would suffer and the quality of the oil would be affected.
You might already know that olive trees can live for more than 2000 years, and we have an example in the next village.
In the picture you can see one of the oldest and biggest olive trees in the world. According to radiocarbon dating it is more than 2000 years old. It is amazing to think that when Julius Caesar was fighting the Gauls, this olive tree was already producing oil and Julius Caesar, himself, might have used its oil!
There is also an historical curiosity about Scandriglia and its area. The administrative region of Scandriglia is Lazio. However, Scandriglia also belongs to the historical region of Sabina. The Sabines were an Italic tribe that lived in the area before the founding of Rome (10th century BC). An interesting legend is that of the abduction of the Sabine women, which says that the Romans abducted Sabine women to populate the newly built Rome.
In the picture you can see a typical Scandrigliese dish: homemade pasta with wild asparagus.
Wild asparagus grows in the woods surrounding Scandriglia between April and June.
As you can see from the picture below, they are much thinner and have a much stronger flavor, compared to the cultivated ones.

I spent the first twenty years of life in this pleasantly old-fashioned village of Scandriglia. However, after starting my studies in mathematics at the University of Rome, I decided to move to the Italian capital, which became my second Italian hometown. (Google Pictures) (map).
There are so many things to say about Rome that I don't even know where to start. I can certainly say that moving from a pleasantly old-fashioned village of 3000 inhabitants, to the biggest Italian metropolis, with 3-4 million inhabitants, was a big cultural shock for me. Bigger than the one I had when I moved to a different country ten years later. However, after a couple of years I got used to the different rhythms of life in this city and I started enjoying it more and more. In spite of all the disadvantages dictated by a large, traffic congested city, Rome offers a landscape of arts, architecture, history, events and food, which is unique in the world.

And now a short Twitter-like history of Rome
In the beginning were seven pastoral settlements on seven hills (10th century BC). The pre-romans initially just met in the Roman Forum to trade. Later, they decided to join together and elected a king (8th century BC). After experiencing seven kings (As a matter of fact, the kings were eight, since Titus Tatius, king of the Sabines, was joint king of Rome with Romulus, the first king. However he is not traditionally counted among the kings of Rome. We Sabines are clearly victim of a plot ;-)) they decided to become a Republic (509 BC). By the end of the Republic (1st century BC), the city of Rome was the largest city in the world. Estimates of its peak population range from 1 to 2 million: astonishing for that time, considering that the population of the whole empire was about 40 million and the world about 250 million. The Republic was replaced by an autocratic empire which became the largest Empire of that time and reached its maximum extent in 117 AD. The empire was divided into eastern and western halves (4th century AD). Plagued by internal instability and attacked by various migrating peoples, the western part collapsed at the end of the 5th century AD, whereas the Eastern Roman Empire lasted until 1453 AD.
My favourite monument in Rome is the Pantheon which you can see in the picture below. (Google Pictures) (map)
The Pantheon was rebuilt by Emperor Hadrian in about 126 AD. The building is circular and the concrete dome has a central opening to the sky. Almost two thousand years after it was built, the Pantheon's dome is still the world's largest unreinforced concrete dome. It is one of the best preserved of all Roman buildings. It has been in continuous use throughout its history, and since the 7th century, the Pantheon has been used as a Roman Catholic church.
In the picture you can see a typical Roman dish: deep-fried stuffed zucchini flowers. (At this point, as a Sabine, I can't hold my tongue from saying that besides our women, the Romans also stole our recipes. As a matter of fact, deep-fried stuffed zucchini flowers were invented by Sabines, but now it is a “typical Roman dish”. )

Towards the end of my decade in Rome, when I was really enjoying my life there, I decided to leave. Well, it was not exactly like that! The reality is that I was thinking it would be interesting to have an experience of living a couple of years in another European country, to learn a different culture and a different language. I was thinking about London or Paris, but I ended up in Heidelberg for an interview. It was April and I thought in Germany it would be much colder than in Italy, and therefore, wore my heavy suit. The morning was a bit chilly and I felt comfortable in my suit. However, my interview was in the afternoon and I was very surprised when I realized that it was getting warmer than in Rome. During the interview I was sweating a lot and not only because of the tension! Nevertheless, they offered me the job and since I immediately had a very good impression of the company and of the town, I decided to accept. I moved from Rome to Heidelberg about two months later.
It was July 1999 and my idea was to live in Heidelberg for a couple of years and then go back to Rome. However, it became a little bit more than a couple of years, as I’m still living in Heidelberg, which I now call my German Hometown. (Google Pictures) (map) (wide angle picture)

Heidelberg is a lovely little (about 150,000 inhabitants) university town, situated on the Neckar river, at the border between the Rhine Rift Valley and the Odenwald. Coming from Rome, I very much enjoy the tranquility of this town. One of the things I love is the fact that I can safely use my bicycle to reach any area of Heidelberg and need to drive my car less than once per week. Besides the advantages, however, I also experienced a new cultural shock. Apart from “Danke” and “Bier”, I didn’t know a single word of German and my English was much more rudimentary than it is now. Firstly, I had to spend some time improving my English and then I started with German and had to struggle several years before reaching an acceptable, but still far from satisfactory, level. Additionally, I had to spend some time getting used to different customs.
The symbol of Heidelberg is the Castle (Google Pictures). It was built about 800 years ago and about 300 years ago was partially destroyed, together with almost the entire town. The castle has only been partially rebuilt since its demolition and its ruin became the symbol of German Romanticism. The question of whether the castle should be completely restored was discussed for a long time; eventually it was decided to preserve it in its current condition.
In this picture you can see a striking view of the illuminated castle.

And in this picture you can see a fascinating view of a typical German dish: Würste with sauerkraut.

I have enjoyed living in each of my home towns, and in conclusion, I can say that having three home towns is a big advantage. I have adopted each lifestyle, culture and language, and, last but not least, I have enjoyed all of the different regional gastronomic delights.

9 commenti:

ziomassimo ha detto...

Piacerebbe molto anche a me poter apprezzare il tuo elaborato. Ma, come sai, non sono "padrone della lingua". Sarebbe possibile leggerlo in italiano?

ziomassimo ha detto...

... semmai anche in scandrigliese oppure in romanesco. Più di lì non vado!
Attendo fiducioso.

dioniso ha detto...

Se usi google translator dovresti ottenere treduzione comprensibile. Scusa stringatezza ma sono in aeroporto.

juhan ha detto...

Notevole, anzi ti invidio.
Quello che mi piace è la tua capacità di venire al sodo: per una città il numero di abitanti e il cibo che trovi ;-)
No, dai! sto lollando.
Bel post davvero.

dioniso ha detto...

Twitter-like per l'appunto ;-)
Grazie Juhan!

juhan ha detto...

Io mi ero fatto l'idea che lavoravi all'Università; sai i matematici uno se li immagina lì che allevano futuri matematici. Ecco perché un'altra cosa che mi stupisce è che il figlio di contadini voglia/possa occuparsi di cose astratte, io l'ho scoperto molto più tardi.

dioniso ha detto...

Lavorare all'Università mi sarebbe piaciuto. E avevo anche cominciato. Ma purtroppo incomprensioni, contrasti, arrendevolezza e contingenze della vita mi hanno condotto altrove.
In che senso hai scoperto molto più tardi che il figlio di contadini voglia/possa occuparsi di cose astratte?
Da quello che ho capito tu lavori all'Università e sei figlio o nipote di contadini?

juhan ha detto...

Sono figlio di contadini, un po' più vecchio di te e, anche se i cavalli e muli da noi sono scomparsi alla fine degli anni '50 i contadini sono rimasti molto conservatori, in senso culturale. Per dire adesso sono tutti leghisti, anche i giovani. Il figlio di contadini che stavano bene (non ricchi ma insomma) poteva studiare da: prete, geometra o medico. Io non sopporto di vedere il sangue quindi geometra e poi, ingegnere. E sono finito a occuparmi di informatica; sì, c'è stata anche una volontaria partecipazione all'università.

dioniso ha detto...

Ora capisco che intendevi per tarda scoperta. Un po' è stato così anche per me
Io però non sono propriamente figlio di contadini. L'ultima generazione di contadini a tempo pieno è stata quella dei miei nonni. Di cui ho parlato in:

La memoria e la storia - prima parte

La memoria e la storia - nonni paterni

La memoria e la storia - nonni materni

Ma già loro dopo la guerra si trasformarono in dipendenti comunali. Mio padre era impiegato postale e mia madre casalinga. Appena raggiunta la pensione mio padre ha cominciato però a dedicarsi a tempo pieno ad una delle sue passioni: l'agricoltura.

Per quanto riguarda i miei studi. Dopo le medie volli frequentare il conservatorio da privatista più l'istituto professionale con la specializzazione elettronica. Ero affascinato dall'elettronica. E mi piacevano le cose pratiche. Scrivere era per me un incubo.
Poi durante i 5 anni di istituto professionale i miei interessi cambiarono. Anche grazie a quei pochi professori che amavano veramente il loro lavoro. Tra cui quello di elettronica in primis che divenne per me un mito, ma anche quello di matematico degli ultimi due anni. Per cui sviluppai questa passione per la più astratta tra le discipline e volli studiarla all'università. Mi appassionai per la ricerca e fui incoraggiato a proseguire per quella strada. Ma dopo qualche anno capii che quella non poteva essere la mia strada. Per lo meno in quei modi e in quei tempi. Il diploma di trombone invece non l'ho mai sfruttato da un punto di vista professionale ma mi è rimasto come passione.