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    You are invited to read about amazing real life stories. 

 The stories in this page might not be as amazing as we would like them to be, but they are real life stories. 

   This page will be about the history of Genzano di Lucania and its heritage (7)

The heritage chapter

 The heritage chapter

Welcome to my hub now called, The heritage chapter.

In this article we are going to discuss about some history of Genzano di Lucania, therefore we are going to mention what sort of heritage we inherited in Genzano very early in history from the Greek, because there is evidence that the Greek were in Genzano town before the Romans took over. 

So let us start; in Genzano there is a chasm called the Greek chasm, and perhaps we should have called this article, Genzano Greek chasm heritage, but anyhow, let us discuss here and now about this chasm, which is the other chasm on the other side of Genzano; for the readers that have not read our previous hubs I repeat here that the old town of Genzano was built between two chasms and in our last article we have talked about Saint Antounio or Saint Michael chasm where the Genzanesi make wine in the caves dug in the walls of the chasm below the town, but here today we are going to talk about what the local call the Greek chasm.

So, let us try to explain the name of this Greek chasm; some writers that have written about Genzano history lately all seem to admit that a very long time ago the Greek were living here in this part of southern Italy, and therefore in the chasm that we are going to talk about as well, and that is the reason why it is called the Greek chasm even today from the elders of Genzano.

There are reasons to believe that it is so if one keeps in mind how the human race migrated from the Middle East to Europe; and also history tells us that 700 BC or there about Greece had colonies in southern Italy, which might have lasted until the Romans took over. So let us assume that the Greeks were there anyhow, because what is going to follow later on is only going to reinforce this assumption. As there is also another story about this Madonna of Genzano that we are going to tell you in our future hubs, we can only say here that this Madonna effigy is very much the effigies that the Greek were making about early Christianity during the Roman times, when Rome ruled over all the known world of those times. 

          Welcome to our website 

My name is Frank Menchise

and we are going to write in next few pages about the town I have come form, Genzano di Lucania. And also the town history as we know it. 

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 Genzano town history and heritage

Looking at old history books, we have to admit that there is not much written about Genzano town history in the distant past. However the myth says that Genzano is very old and it was named from a legend that tells us that a young guy called Iens (yens) fell in love and eloped with a young princes called San, they went to live in the caves that were in the chasm below Genzano and later on started to build the town above the caves a small castle, the name is virtually the two name of the lovers put together Iens-san (yensan, or jenzan) I am saying this because I know that in strict dialect of the town even today it is pronounced Yenzan with no G at the beginning and no O at the end.

Now let us talk for a moment about more recent history that a recent write has discovered in the archive of Potenza; one of the first times that Genzano is mentioned in the archives is that of two brothers Secondo and Donato who were Christian martyr in the year 258 AD, as they were beheaded in Genzano ordered from council Valeriano, which I guess was a Roman council for that part of Italy. This seems to be the oldest record found written in Genzano history and not much else; so, let us go back to the Greek chasm story.

Because in this hub we would like to tell or describe to you the chasm on the other side of Genzano that we call the Greek chasm, we have to say that this chasm starts about fifty meter from the fountain Cavallina, or perhaps I should say that at the beginning of the Greek chasm is where the fountain Cavallina is, then suddenly the chasm becomes very deep and a real chasm; this part of Genzano is called the Greek chasm, so, by this very name it is understood that a very long time ago there must have been a colony of Greek people living there, and perhaps also in the surrounding country side.

About the Greek people and whatever happened to them nobody seems to know today, as there is no trace of them and there are no records to check with. So one is forced to assume that very likely that there was a war, or something of that sort and they were driven out. Or perhaps they just mixed with the rest of the inhabitants of Genzano and nobody remembers; or perhaps, as time went by things changed and it became impossible for them to live in the chasm, because of the erosion and other natural factors which slowly changed the shape of the chasm, and the use of the chasm.

However nowadays the Greek chasm has been deserted from the people of Genzano for a long while, because most of the people would be afraid to go into this chasm, and there are good reasons for it: Apart that it can be dangerous because of the abrupt drops in the level of the land, it can also be unsanitary as lots of rubbish used to be dumped into this chasm, and this would include also the human excrement that used to come out at the bottom of the chasm, when there was no proper sewer laid in town; and plus most of the men that lived in the old town when they had to go, they used to go and squat on the shoulders of the chasm and do it there, in order to save their women folks the extra sanitary work that they had to carry out: And this unpleasant task I am going to explain later on how it was done.

In the Greek chasm nowadays there are only a few good caves that can still be used, and most of the rest have been abandoned because it is impossible to get at them, since the erosion has made the chasm deeper, so now some caves are left exposed halfway up the vertical cliff of the chasm.

I believe that the erosion became worse in this chasm because: there is the fountain Cavallina upstream at the very beginning of the chasm, and also because, as the town grew larger most of the town’s storm water drainage was diverted into this chasm, and together with this drainage they built also a simple and effective sewerage system for the town of those days. The dunghill masonry was built all underground, except for the opening where they used to drop the dung, and it was connected through a drain which came out at the bottom of the chasm. All this may seem ridiculous today, but I am sure that in those times was seen as a great improvement.

Now at this point I would like to point out to you that there are some large masonry works in this chasm, because across the chasm there are two massive masonry walls, and one of them is so massive that seems as if it wants to hold the banks of the chasm apart. These two walls have been built for several purposes in mind, and the most important one would be to prevent any landslide which would endanger this part of the town, and to stop the erosion that could undermine this part of the town, and also to hide the drainage and sewer system. So the only thing that could be seen of the sewer system was only a large barred opening about three feet square at ground level, which was situated a short walking distance from the town’s fountain Cavallina; and this archaic but effective old sewer system was still being used when I was young. Not from my family, because we were lucky enough as we were connected to the modern sewer system long before I was born. But it still was used only from those less fortunate people in the community, which for some reasons of their own had not been able to connect to the modern town’s sewer yet, so they had to use the old system as it was done in the old days and this was the most hated job of them all.

 There are reasons to believe that where the fountain Cavallina stands today because of the shape it could have been used very early as an amphitheater during the Roman times at the beginning of Genzano history. So this could be where the Christian martyr of Secondo and Donato took place?

 The most hated job of them all

Before we start to tell you about the most hated job of them all, we would like to point out to the modern generation to compare those times and the ways that even the best people had to make do, in order to live a decent life then; today all this may seem crazy even to talk about it, but in those times that was how most things were done.

Now looking back at the time when I was young, I still remember how the unspeakable job was done, from the women folks of those last unfortunate families that were still using the old sewer system, they had to do this horrible job two or three times a week, and they would feel so ashamed while they were doing it, and what a shame it was compared to nowadays living standard.

Now that I am older and wiser I would have felt sorry for those women that had to use the old sewer system: But them as a young man; I and my teenager male friends thought that it was very funny, when we would see in the evening just before dusk, a couple of women per household come out of their houses with their own dung balanced on their head so to speak. One of them would carry this round and wide rimmed ceramic container balanced on her head, the other would be carrying a bucket and a sort of little broom which was a sort of brush with a long handle.

They would be coming out of their houses, and they would try to go the back ways as much as they could, and try to be invisible if they could as they didn’t want to be seen. Can you just imagine some teenager girls doing this low and unspeakable service, while some teenager boys would be prying on them from a distance? What a shame! Those girls must have felt terrible to say the least, only because they were doing the most hated job of them all, which was to dispose of their own human excrement; but, it was necessary and inevitable. Anyhow when they reached the square opening of the sewer, they would help each other to bring the contains down from their heads and would throw the dung down the square hole; and then the one with the bucket would go to the fountain and bring a bucket of water to wash the ceramic container. And finally return to their homes relieved that their dirty job was done, and they would be all right for a few more days.

Can you just imagine any young girls that are living today to do such a shameful job, I have nothing else to say but just compare. So, when old people say that today generations are better off and lucky to be born now and not then, they are telling us the truth, because I am pretty sure that there is no one that would volunteer to do that job.

See you next time, where we are going to tell you about the Madonna story