Bretea Streiouli orphanage, Deva Romania

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"Here we are at last! Here it is freezing cold and I am telling you right now that next year we are going to spend Christmas in Latina”.

Yes Ma’m! As I was formerly in the army I knew extremely well that my wife was the captain. We could hardly find a spot to park the car in the Town Hall square, my parents’ house is about 50 m. from the square, we got up the stairs, I opened the door and I was welcome by a nice warmth and a familiar smell of cooking.

"Oh you are at last" My father came to say hi and then went back to sit near the kitchen range. "Are you coming from Sulmona?"

Yes I am.

"Well done because at Valico della Forchetta it is snowing and there may be avalanches. I cannot stand the snow any longer, I would not even put it in my pipe. "

I went to the kitchen and greeted my mother with a kiss on the cheek.

Mom what are we eating?

"I mad some ravioli, then sausages with gravy" and “u turcineie” Elio brought me some ricotta cheese, it is very good."

We have special ravioli here: homemade pasta filled with ricotta cheese and each raviolo weighs about 40 grams. “U turcineie” is a kind of sausage made of lamb liver wrapped in lamb casings, I just love it!. Whenever I go back to Campo di Giove my mother – if lamb meat is available - always prepares it, and my sister, with a touch of envy comments: "the lost son is back, today we have food!”

In the meantime my father was sitting at the table and he was watching the news, I could see he is shaking his head and the expression on his face changed: in fact they were reporting news about the Pope, and with an ironic grin on his face he talked to my mother: "eh .... . your friend is on the every single day”.

“How nasty of you, but what has that poor thing done to you….he is not even well”

“I know what he has done to me”.

As an old comrade he could not stand priests, considering them able to bewitch bigots who voted the crusader shield1 This matter started a long time ago. In 1942, when he was twenty, he joined the Carabinieri and at first he worked as a guard at the residential palace of King Peppetto Vittorio Emanuele III. Then he was sent as military police to the Greek-Albanian front

He wasn’t particularly keen on talking about that experience, but sometimes with a few extra glasses of wine he let himself go. He must have seen atrocities and executions to the point that on 8th September, when the army withdrew astray and without a guide, he joined the other side: Tito’s partisans. Once he told me that one evening, during a reprisal, a boy was hanged because he was the partisans’ despatch rider, and on the road edge my father killed a dozen of Germans. I find it difficult to imagine that, a man as good and gentle as my father could – out of necessity or beliefs – do such a thing.

It is not like in a movie; when you are aware that the scene is real, things change, and at that point, I understood his reticence, his silence and his anger. At the end of the war he walked back to Italy on his own and returned to his unit, but it did not last long.

In that environment there was still the atmosphere of the Twenties, when in the village he was a young fascists’ leader. His previous experience violently clashed with the new situation, especially for him who had worn the red star hat for over one year. He smiled when he heard that someone received the partisans’ legion of merit for hiding a British soldier for one night. He who had been a true partisan did not have and could not receive any award, it reminded me of that movie scene in which Totò says: “let’s count each other, we are seven but it is not that later….!”

Immediately after the end of the war the situation was dramatic. To avoid starvation people made ends meet by farming land and raising cattle. Boiling stones to make lime could also provide an extra income. Later the railway reconstruction works to connect Sulmona to Naples began. It was a chance for all the surrounding villages. The constructor exploited the manpower - in an indecent way even for those years – forcing desperate people to accept twelve-hour working shifts for little money. My father tried to organize a strike with a few friends, but people were blocked by the fear of losing even that little money they could make.

At that time it was easy to find weapons, therefore he together with a few close friends decided to compel people to strike. Hiding in the woods they shot on the railway tracks, forcing the workers to leave the site. It was not very democratic, but within a few weeks, things slightly changed.

We finished eating and I was looking forward to going out, my father – after all that chatting – dozed off, I, gazing at my wife, put the jacket on and left.

The main square was not far and going down there I walked by a man’s house, he passed away but I still remember him well because he used to wear plus fours trousers and impressed me with a sencence "e uaiò sempre a fatià….pure ...a cacà ce vò la forza, " as say, dear boy we must always work hard, even to defecate… you need strength.

In the square there were a few people, certainly everybody was at the bar, I looked through the window and in fact many of my friends were there.

As soon as I stepped in the owner greeted me, "Hello Wreck (they teased me because I was a pilot) at last you show up here" Handshakes in rapid succession, and after that I found myself with a glass of beer in my hand.

During the holidays there was a bit of a problem there, anyone you met offered you a drink and it was hard to say no. In the lounge bar they are all set. "Tito, Tito! Come over here, we need a forth player for a Tressette2".

I was sitting in front of one of my cousins who gave me an ambiguous smile and said: "I need to talk to you later."

What about?

"After the game we let’s go for a walk."

I almost lost all cards games and I was heavily reproached, but I made up for it when I played Passatella3.

As we left the bar outside it began to snow, the trees and the streets were all lit, only Santa Claus on his sleigh was missing. We were walking towards San Rocco square.

Well, what do you have to say?

"In April the Council elections are taking place ..... you have to run for mayor for the right-centre winged party."

But are you crazy? I live in Latina! Should I take a leave from work? On which ground? With a mayor’s salary of 800,000 lire4 per month?

Well this is odd, in Italy there are about 8,000 municipalities, most of them are small and with limited resources, the Government spends billions for unnecessary institutions, there is no way they pass a bill to raise mayors’ salary. Then they complain if mayors do business or make others do business!

"No you should not take a leave, but you can commit yourself 2 or 3 days a week."

Anyway you know how I feel ..... right wing, left wing D.C., MSI, P.C., P.S.I, with all the other versions ..... there are about twenty, what have they go to do with the Council administration?

"Eh .... They have something to do with it because then at provincial and regional level there’s nobody to rely on".

You are wrong, look at the current situation if the Left party runs the Council, there is the centre-right party at the Province and the centre-wing party at the Region, they all fight with each other. It is a system that sucks, tailored made to create problems rather than solving them.

I already picture the scene: as mayor I have to solve a problem,– as I am slow – it takes me a month to prepare the papers concerning this matter, but at the Province they bounce it back because I am a Leftist. The papers get back, I prepare them again, the Province gives the green light, but at the Region they reject it because the right-centre party is in charge.

Roughly I have to wait the astral combination in which the council, province and region are all right-winged or left-winged. Local municipalities have to administer applying existing rules and regulations which are approved by the parties in Parliament. Right, left, centre ...

We have to deal with the ski basin and the park issues! Instead of sorting out the problems we have with these environment extreme conservatives we are at dagger drawn with comrades, crusader shield and others, and meanwhile the village goes to rack and ruin.

We have given 94% of the Council territory to the Majella park, to obtain what? Only kicks in the face .....and some seats in the Park Administration Board.

They complain that young people leave the village, that the village is being depopulated and aging but they cannot explain why. It almost seems an inevitable, natural process. Not long ago this village was teeming with life, people could make a living out of farming land, raising sheep, goats and cows, sometimes it was tough, but people were here because there was work to do.

It is true, now times have changed! The village economy is no longer based on agriculture and livestock, but mainly on tourism, and it is here where the problems begin.

They claim to develop tourism without adequate infrastructures, with a policy of total immobility imposed by the park managers who seized everything: the village, agricultural land, stables and even the ski basin.

If by chance I had in mind to come back here to work as a farmer or raise cows as I did when I was a child I couldn’t have the opportunity to fence my land, to sow what I consider more appropriate, I am talking about my piece of land ..... the one my father, grandparents and great-grandparents have had and made a living out of, for centuries.

I couldn’t build a stable…….at Campo di Giove only three shepherds are left, we should build a monument for them, facilitate them in all possible ways but instead my friend Falaschino is not allowed to build a stable and he is forced to leave the sheep in inadequate and ugly structures with enormous difficulties during the winter.

Yet I cannot fully grasp which natural disasters could be caused by the construction of a farm.

To add insult to injury these gentlemen tell us to encourage and promote local production; their common sense is truly impressive: who should be able to produce cheese, mozzarella, lambs – which are really special around here – if whoever makes at attempt is hampered in any way?

They do not care about our problems, they are just bureaucrats whose only purpose is to keep the “park caravan”. Their ability to balance environment conservation needs and local development is exceptional.

In fact, after they realized that the village future lies in tourism, they turned the ski basin in a highly protected area of the park; nothing can be touched…..but the ski lift is fifty years old!

Who cares, tourists go to Campo di Giove not to ski but to admire the local colubro snake. Its protection prevented the construction of a bike lane, because it could harm the little snake habitat..

To get an idea of the analysis skills and knowledge of the territory shown by these gentlemen it is necessary to point out the following: colubro snakes’ habitat, among others, is made of stone heaps scattered here and there, but just hark….breaking up these stone piles could threaten the survival of the little snake in question! Therefore no more bike lanes, even if they wanted them. I have to assume that if they mull over these kind of matters, they have very little to do and they do not know how to keep themselves busy, that is why we have been waiting for the infamous park plan for five years

After years of struggle and bureaucratic quibbles we manage to receive the project approval related to the modernisation of facilities. The park director didn’t notice that the project included the construction of a shelter at high altitudes and then here we start all over again with appeals to the Regional Administrative Court.

The Right or the Left have nothing to do with it, the only sensible thing we can do is to send them home, starting by removing them from the most beautiful building they occupy in the village for three and a half million lire a month.

They don’t realise it but they are damaging us. The situation is the following: you cannot be a shepherd or a farmer or invest in tourism. You are only allowed to stay still like a statue . In other words you are the rare "homo majellae" …..perhaps you did not notice but you are considered local fauna.

At this point they should be consistent as park authority and they should give an income support to each family for the survival of the species, and we would be happy with that!

My dear we need civic lists, in the true meaning of the word civic, with capable people of any political colour, but if it depended on me I would ban parties from administrative elections so we would end the old story that occurs when one party or another calls for government resignation, only because it obtained 0.5% more in the local elections.

"Yeah but if these people do not see the hammer and sickle or the crusader shield5 they do not want to vote!"

And then you see they do not really care of managing politics and sort out problems. The only priority they have is to reconfirm the membership of their pack or flock: the DC pack, the PCI pack, the PSI6 pack……

But have you heard them! I have been a Communist for 40 years, I have been a Christian Democrat since 325 a.C. Well done moron! “How can it be? Since 325 a.C.?

Well it can be as the first Christian Democrat was Constantine. In 325 a.C. the Nicaea Ecumenical Council took place, and before that Constantine was struck by the appearance of the cross. To tell you the truth Constantine had not much enthusiasm for the Christians, because he believed in the Sun God, his choice was triggered by political convenience.

He accepted to be crowned Emperor with the back up of the Church, becoming the Christians’ sponsor. He could not imagine to put Italy into troubles for eighteen centuries.

Mr Andreotti must certainly be Constantine’s distant relative, as he was also struck by the vision of the cross "

"In hoc signo vinces" (in this sign you shall have victory) , and ... what did he do? He immediately put the cross on the crusader shield

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