Historical Notes

In this house, until the 1970’s, “Marlurita Chiachio” (Maria Loreta Pacella, born in 1890). She was known for her so-called healing abilities. Marlurita knew the formulas and procedures to “heal” from the evil eye, but she was also able to cure tooth aches using metal objects and magic phrases.

Much before her actual death, it seems that Marlurita was victim of apparent death, a common in that period.

Her house (in certain periods it was shared by two families) has remained as she left it when she died in 1978; without running water (wich was drawn from a copper basin refilled at the public fountain), with limited elettric power, the scarce lighting provided by light bulb of a few watts.

The large fireplace in the corner of the room was the center of family life: it lodged the copper pot used to cook the simple peasant soups and “polenta”; it heated the room filling it with smoke that blackened everything and everyone; in the evening all gathered around it for conversation and storytelling, while the women attended to their small domestic chores like sorting beans and lentils, knitting sweaters and socks, husking corn. The room served as living room, kitchen and dining room and on the walls hung agricultural tools toghether with household objects. Almost everything was produced locally and even empty tin boxes were used as household containers, converting the bottoms into lids.

The only piece of furniture present was the “lu spraine”, a chest with tall legs and a convex lid, where food and some valuable objects were stored.

An oil lamp illuminated the bedroom; the bed consisted in two iron trestles, “sègge”, on which wood planks were placed and on top (as a mattress) a large sack made of heavy cotton and filled with dry corn husks, “le spujjature”, or with stray, for a blanket a heavy piece of cloth. Under the bed, some, like the provident Marlurita, Kept a casket bought in those rare times of cash availability or after hard-earned savings.

At the bottom of the bed a chest for linens, containing a few simple pieces from the dowry or weaved at home. The Sunday clothes consisted in the traditional costume of Pacentro, while for every day, women wore a skirt and a “vita” (bodice, that substituted in more recent times the more constricting corset).

Inside the rickety bed stand was placed the chamber pot, which was emptied in the stable, contributing in producing compost for the fields; and, if one did not own a stable, the small living space available was shared with the donkey which, like a normal domestic animal, lived with the family, serving also as the anly source of heat in the hoiuse. Of course, in that period if one owned a donkey he could consider himself rich an fortunate.

After her brothers left for “la Merica” (America) and after the death of her parents and of her older sister, Maria Loreta remained alone in this house where she spent her days (the evening ended at five o’clock) consoled by her memories and by the affection of her neighbords.



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