The Years of Franco Colautti - Part 1
An Emigrant Makes Good
The Miani Counts of Angoris, fallen on hard times, had mortgaged La Faula as security to a bank. On July 22nd of 1967 Franco Colautti, then working as a steel-engineer in Mexico, bought the morgatged property for Italian Lire 9,000,000. In Enzo Ballico, Franco found a precious and efficient developer of his dream of a small farm tenancy. Enzo combined the estimable skills of a very good surveyor and those of a very good Mayor. In those days Mayors could be re-elected for years on end and the fact that he was Mayor of the Municipality of Povoletto (which includes Ravosa) for 17 years proves that he did a lot for the people and the municipality that he represented.
Notary Acts: Release from any lien and Sale Act
Firstly, Enzo organized the purchase of La Faula. Such process took two years, because La Faula had been mortgaged in favor of creditors of the Miani Counts. But the mortgage was owned by an Alberto Ceschiutti from Udine. For the sale of the property to be effectual, Franco paid ITL 1,000,000 to Mr Ceschiutti for the release of the mortgage on 26th August 1965. The Counts, or rather, their procurator had to travel from Rome to Udine to sign the act of sale, a journey they were little inclined to undertake until a court injunction forced them to turn up. The actual sale took place on the 19th July 1967 when Franco paid ITL 8,000,000 to the Miani Counts for the sale of the property. The notary's act between the Counts and Franco stating that La Faula had been freed from any lien or encumbrance and regained absolute title by settlement of the mortgage secured on it was sealed three days later, on 22nd July 1967.
Acqueduct Plan and Consortium Document
Secondly, Enzo brought running water from the public supply to La Faula. In fact, the project had already been drafted before the actual purchase of La Faula by Franco in 1967. In order to justify the connection of Casale Faula to the water main, the Mayor had to form a Consorzio Stradale Interpoderale - a consortium of all the owners of properties along the way to and neighboring La Faula - to justify the expense with the local Authorities and get a grant. A grant of ITL 1,264,000 was passed on 10th September 1966, but the actual money paid out was ITL 948,000 which had to do the job. The connection crossed the Malina Torrent in a concreted wall. Subsequently, when the bridge was built, the pipe was moved to cross the river along the bridge itself rather than on the river bed. Part of the old pipe still sticks out from the river bed near the remains of the old pebbled ford.
Bridge Plan and Request to Regional Authorities
Thirdly, Enzo had the bridge built. To justify such an expensive piece of public works, the Mayor had to claim that there had existed a bridge before the flooding of 1958 which had been washed away by the flood waters. In order to get approval of such a project from the Regional Authorities, he turned for help to the then regional agricultural secretary Antonio Comelli - native of nearby Nimis - who in later years became the President of the Friuli Venezia Giulia Region. The project for the bridge was drawn-up by the Mayor himself and presented for approval and funding on 15th July 1968. Construction of the bridge was shared by two local gangs of builders represented by Dino Foschiatto from Ravosa and Luciano Peressutti from Salt. The bridge was inaugurated on 27th December 1969. Dino Foschiatto recalled that on the day the bridge was tested, a line of trucks loaded with rocks, weighing twice as much as the bridge could nominally carry, i.e. 200 quintals, was made to drive on the bridge . Dino actually stood on the river bed and saw the bridge sink at least five centimeters and thought to himself 'gosh, they are not going to pass it' - they, meaning the civil engineers. But, they did. And after over forty years and several floods the bridge still stands awaiting planned, but not budgeted, repairs by the local council.
Fourthly, Enzo, with the approval of Franco, started to have some work done on the farm. In the words of local inhabitants, during the time of the Basso Family the hill had looked like a panettone, the traditional smooth hill-shaped Italian Christmas cake. But by the late 1960's it was being taken over by the locust tree (robina pseudo-acacia from N. America) and other local trees. So, in 1966, Enzo allowed the local Forestry Corps, as an experiment, to plant pine trees - mainly pinus strobus, cupressus leylandy and cupressus arizonica - over four/five hectares on top of the hill, where once cereals had been cultivated. Blanket foresting was quite fashionable in those years, not just in Italy but other parts of Europe as well, to withstand the systematic abandonment of mountainous or hilly agricultural land. With hindsight it would have been better if local tree varieties had been planted, because the hot summers and the shallow top soil are not suitable for the pine trees at such low latitudes and in the face of global warming. However on 7th April. 1969 a local boy, Mario Clochiatti, started a fire which led to the destruction of roughly 1000 plants, which his father Aristide promised to replant but never did.
The new vineyards
On 21st September 1967, Enzo also requested permission from the Region to replace and replant the existing vineyards. As it was mentioned above, the old vineyards and been terraced by pick and shovel. Unfortunately, they were not suitable for mechanized work. So in 1968, Dino Comelli from Nimis came with his digger/front-end loader and truck and terraced all the hill, except for an area which was subsequently terraced in 2005, and the new plants and structures for their training were put in place. Some varieties were replanted in 2003 and 2004, but fundamentally the layout of the terraced vineyard is still the same. Another vineyard was added and completed in 1971.
Finally, Enzo found a family to be caretakers at La Faula. Initially, a local farmer, Angelo Clochiatti had kept an eye on the uninhabited property in exchange for a fee of Lire 60,000 a month. Eventually, Giuseppe Beltrame (nicknamed Bepo Giachete because he was always wearing a jacket) and his family moved into the farmhouse at La Faula. In exchange for free accommodation, in a house where the only toilet (the current Bungalows boiler room) was outside next to the pigsty (Yellow Bungalow), as was usual, and baths in winter had to be taken in a bathtub in the stall or the kitchen, he tended the vineyard, made hay and generally looked after the property. At the same time, he cultivated his own fields in the nearby village of Grions. In fact, Beppo and his brother had divided up the property inherited from their father. Beppo had kept all the fields and his brother had kept the house. So, while at La Faula with some income from La Faula and the income from his own property, slowly but surely he started building a house in his native village where he moved to in 1972 when he left La Faula.