Day 16-2 - October 5, 2015 - Monday - Walk Through Monterosso; Agricultural Lifestyle; Monterosso Cooking Class; Dinner at the Palazzo Massara
Antonio and Velia provided a bountiful breakfast for us this morning. We left for the village of Monterosso and connected with Antonio who was also our city guide. Mimmo dropped us off and we walked into the village, as there was no way even our small van could maneuver the steep, narrow streets.
Antonio explained that 1,700 people lived in Monterosso now but in the feudal times, people built the city on the hilltop for strategic defense. Most of the economy is now based on olives and grapes. Almost everyone has a small garden for personal use.
The majority of the homes are small, one-story dwellings where the people lived who worked in the fields for the nobility. There were a few mansions owned by the previous land owning families where the nobility lived.
As we walked through the village people were extremely friendly and waved from their balconies and greeted us as we passed on the narrow streets. Antonio reminded us that after the unification of Italy, many families found themselves out of work and emigrated to America in the early 1900’s.
After winding our way up and through the maze of cobblestone streets, we came to the top of a hill and to the Town Hall. The next thing we knew, the National Anthem of the USA was blaring out over the loudspeakers. Next the National Anthem of Italy was played.
The Mayor (Antonio) and President of the Village Council (Rocco) came out to meet us. They both shook our hands and we introduced ourselves. They invited us in to the Council Chambers and we sat around the boardroom table. We were able to ask questions about their jobs and the issues of the village.
Both men were young, in their early 40’s and serve five-year terms. There was a salary, but it was minimal. Instead of running on a political party agenda, they ran as individuals and on their own merits stressing what they saw were important issues for the town.
Their biggest concerns were the infrastructure of their ancient hilltop village and trying to provide incentives and activities to keep young people interested in staying in Monterosso.
We thanked them for their hospitality and then continued to the Museum of Monterosso to meet Caterina, the curator. In 1978 Antonio was very instrumental in beginning the museum to preserve the culture of the community.
Several times Antonio has said that “A community must have a memory or you lose the past and forget what it gave to you”. He has been diligent in helping Monterosso to remain a vibrant village. We spent about an hour in the museum learning about the agriculture, the industry, and the occupations of the past.
The last stop on the tour was Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church. Antonio explained the importance of the church in celebrating happy and also sad events in the lives of the village. He told us of the huge gathering for a memorial to the victims of our 9-11 Tragedy.
We stopped briefly at the local market to buy a few items for our dinner tomorrow. After lunch at Il Ghiottone restaurant, we came back to the Villa Velia for a siesta. We used the time to catch up on our emails, start the journal, and to look at our photos from the day.
We met again at 6:00 for a bus trip back to Monterosso and a visit with a Pasquale, a local woodworking artist.
We walked the Palazzo Massara, for our dinner with nobility. The Family Massara was so nice to welcome us to their home, a 45 room palace. Mr. Massara explained his family heritage and even told us about the 16th Century antiques in their home.
Following a delightful evening at the Palace, Mimmo dropped us off at Villa Velia at 10:00 – another full day!
With the free afternoon Vic was able to complete the video of our Fiat 500 ride from Ragusa to Modica. For those of you who are interested, go back to Day 10 to see more of our adventure.
Accommodations: Villa Velia - - - Meal: B, L, D
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Steve loved the Fiat video!!!
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