Una TestimonianzaTestimonial


"The Subsized School in Arceno" written by Piero Ruffoli

The 60s were the years of the exodus. Some farmers moved away from the countries to find job in iron and wood manufacturing companies while others, the most enterprising ones, tried to find job in public bodies, banks or as guardians. They had normal working hours and were paid at the end of the month. So landowners tried to limit the workforce exodus to avoid the collapse of the companies. But how did they do that? In many different ways: by changing sharecrop agreements in order to sustain farmers, by providing electric light to the country houses and improving the standard of life.
But families had children and they had to go to school. But, where? Schools were only in some towns. And in Arceno? Was there a school in Arceno? The children living in the country always went to school to San Gusmé but not every day because of rain, snow, wind and because they had to walk too much. Going to school was important to parents, but children's health was more. So, the state let the town halls determine the opening of a off center subsidized school, if a group of citizens, a manufacturing company or other renowned bodies needed it. Ercole Settembre, the Acerno estate manager, was willing to provide rooms to the school and wood to heat them but the local town hall had to provide furniture (desks, blackboard, maps) and pay the teacher instead. I was asked to teach in this school and, at the end of the school year, I would have earned 100,000 lires, just 10,000 lires a month. I accepted and that was the beginning of my teaching adventure: I call it that way because I had no experience as a teacher, I only had a teacher-training high school diploma and one hour training as a "hearer" during a week I spent in an elementary school in Porta Romana. The school in Arceno was a subsidized school with students from the first year to the fifth year: they had lessons every morning and every afternoon except on Thursday. At the beginning, it was difficult to establish different programs for children of different ages, then my colleagues told me how to do. I taught there two years: the first one we stayed in a house on the left of the Chapel, which has been pulled down later. Children were glad to stop at Arceno, instead of going up to San Gusmé: Morena, a girl of the first year, with lively black eyes, lived in Mulino dell'Ambra and had to go up to Arceno on foot. The road was long and steep and if she hadn't stopped there, she should have climbed Ritombola too. She had to walk a lot to go to school and to come back home. She took lunch with her and ate it in her friends' houses. The situation was the same for other children coming from Camparone, a land in the middle of the wood and also for some patriarchal families like Faustini who had been living there for ages. Just to mention some of my fifteen-sixteen students, I remember five polite, respectful and very close cousins, whose name were Luciano, Vito, Anna, Dino, Lorena (Lorena was the oldest one), then Lorenzo Stendardi and Maria Teresa, Settembre's foster daughter. Generally, at lunch, I ate a piece of meat that my mother put in my bag: it was cooked by Valeria, the cook of the farmhouse. She prepared  it at lunch after serving pasta or potage. February, 1961: it was Ash Wednesday and there was a total eclipse of the sun. It was getting dark and chickens were entering the henhouse. I took the opportunity to explain to my students that chickens thought the day was over and they would have stayed there until the sun shone again. Next year, the school moved to Arceno di Sopra where it stayed the following year too. Finally, the town hall provided a school bus service and the students went to San Gusmé, to the newly built school. I have got some wonderful and pleasing memories of those two years but also some sad ones. I always remember what happened to the two sweet and intelligent boys twelve years later in August: in a hot afternoon they drowned in the fountain near Viale dei Cipressi, the road that leads to the Tondo.

Contact Us

Villa Arceno Consortium
Locality Arceno
San Gusme'
53010 Castelnuovo Berardenga
Phone: +39 0577 359371
Send an eamil