The Basso Family
A Dedicated Hard-working Family from Noale Veneto
Towards the end of the 1920's, Angelo Basso, a door to door seller of brooms, obtained the farm tenancy and crop sharing of La Faula on behalf of 5 of 6 of his sons. In 1930, Mario, Amedeo, Piero, Gelindo and Giovanni moved to La Faula.
Their agricultural production consisted of fruit, wine, cereals and milk. The brothers planted peach-tree as well as apple and cherry-tree (of which some trees still survive) orchards. In addition, on any mild slope on the hill, vineyards were planted. Due to the lack of tractors and front-end loaders, all vineyards, called 'Roncs' in the Friulian idiom, were not terraced, or only partly terraced by hand by means of shovels and picks. Each of the brothers wore out a shovel and scythe each year. Each ronc had a different name according to its position or morphology such as Alt (high), Bas (low), Scalon (stepped), de Bresane (at the mist-net trap). The wine production was of around 1500 litres. On the top of the hill, barley and wheat were sown as well as on the field on the side of the house (where the swimming pool and car park are today) and what is today the neighbor's field behind the car park. The field in front of the house, surprisingly, did not belong to the property.
There was a vegetable garden, located where it is today, and in summer, water and musk melons were also grown. The cows which were kept in the stall comprising the back of the house, were milked and the milk taken to the local dairy (latteria turnaria) to be turned into cheese. At ploughing time, the cows were also used to pull the plough in the fields. Pigs were kept in the pig sty ('ciot' in the Friulian idiom) which is today's Yellow Bungalow. Silk worms were bred in large numbers on piled up grates on the granary of La Faula, today's second floor (Rooms 6 and 6A). Their eggs were initially kept in the warmth of the kitchen to allow them to hatch. Needless to say that chickens and other fowl were also kept. Hay was stored above the cow stall on the first floor (today's Rooms 1-5).
At La Faula, even if were produced milk, cereals and fruit, the rent paid to the Counts comprised 50% of the wine produced plus cash. The cash was obtained from the sale of all the other produce. Members of the family were not allowed to eat any of the fruit unless it was partly rotten or wormy. On one occasion, one of the children pulling downhill a cart of apples lost control of the cart and the apples rolled all the way down to the pergola in front of the house. One of the brothers who witnessed the scene removed the belt from his trousers and flogged the child with it.
Of the 5 brothers, three were married and had children. Although, Angelo the broom-seller father, never came to La Faula, Maria, his wife, did and was in charge of the cooking. The wives of three of the brothers worked in the fields, but not in the cow stall, and did all the washing. The clothing was initially rinsed in the Malina river and subsequently washed with ash in wooden vats. All the boys slept in a room together - today's Room 7 - while the girls slept in another. Each set of parents had their own bedroom. The drinking water was taken from a spring at the bottom of a vineyard whereas the water for the cows and the washing was taken from the spring that today fills the lake in the golf course. The bridge that crosses the Malina river was only built in the late 1960's. Before that, there was a ford and a wooden swing-bridge. Electricity arrived at La Faula only after the 2nd War War. The children went to primary school at Ravosa for the 1st, 2nd and 3rd class, the 4th class was held in the school in Magredis whereas the 5th and last, compulsory class, was held in Savorgnano. The children walked to school in wooden clogs along what used to be dirt roads. In the winter they brought their own wood for heating.
Before the advent of television, the family would gather in the cow stall at night. The cow stalls were the warmest places in the farms in winter and people would often bathe in bath tubs in them. There Mario, the eldest brother would read aloud novels also to visiting villagers and would often be interrupted to explain what certain Italian words meant in the Friulian idiom. He certainly had a literary passion because he also kept some diaries to record events at La Faula which were sadly thrown away by his children on his death.
Another form of entertainment was singing. In an age when radio and gramophones were the privilege of a few, people sang to entertain themselves and others. Therefore, when working in the vineyard various members of the family sang, always with an aim to improve their own singing skills. Renzo, the eldest son of Mario, still in his seventies, had a good tenor voice. Some of the Basso brothers also played a musical instrument. For instance Piero played the guitar which was often used to entertain the family and dance under the pergola on Sundays. In Ravosa there existed a dance hall which belonged to the villa complex of the Mangilli Marqueses. The dance hall was renowned in the area and outside and people from other villages came to dance in it at the rhythm of the harmonia. Other forms of entertainment and laughter in an age where simple jokes were appreciated, were simple jokes like going to Mass in a suite and tie but wearing wooden clogs.
During the period of the Second World War Giovanni was imprisoned by the Germans, whereas his brother Piero was later imprisoned by the Americans. The others with the exception of Mario went to war as well. Meanwhile La Faula was regularly visited by the Cosack Cavalry who came to steal the hay to feed their horses. On one occasion a Cossack knight picked up two-year old Loredana, daughter of Gelindo Basso, on his horse and took her for a ride under the tear-swollen eyes of the mother. At the same time the Osovani Partisans (Italian Republican) came down from Porzus to steal food and they were chased away by the Bassos who were worried of reprisals from the Germans and the Garibaldini Partisans (Communist) who had their headquarters in nearby Bellazoia. As the families grew in size, some moved out of La Faula, notably that of Gelindo Basso, to Ravosa who rented the house which then became today's closed-down Trattoria ai Pavoni.
At the end of the 2nd World War the brothers left La Faula one by one in search of new opportuinities. Amedeo was the first to leave to another share-cropping tenancy. Gelindo was the second to leave, Pietro the third, Giovanni the fourth while Mario the eldest stayed with his family until 1958. According to Miranda Basso, to whom I am profoundly grateful for recounting to me the history of the Basso Family, her father Mario would have liked to purchase the property which then cost in Italian Lire 30,000, but he did not have the money. Three of Mario's children had been born at La Faula and one, a small girl, had died at La Faula after falling into a large pot of boiling water used for scalding the slaughtered pigs (in front of what is now the Bungalows boiler room). It came to pass that in 1958 the Bassos left and the property was rented out to three more tenants.
Of the subsequent tennants, the first, a family of sharecroppers, was of short duration while the second was the family of an administrator of the psychiatric hospital in Udine. This family, whose surname was Colautti, had rented the property as a place to live in. While living at La Faula, they had developed the idea of subdividing the property into sections for housing development. Commercially, it seemed an idea well-suited to those years which marked the beginning of an Italian wild industrialization and housing development, but geologically it was ill thought-out. In fact, the building of a housing estate on a hill made of clay would have resulted in the houses sinking or sliding down towards the river at the bottom of the hill.