I percorsi della memoria

I percorsi della memoria

It's hard to go to school .in a physical sense and beyond. Elementary schools were the only course of study in the countryside towns in Valdichiana and they were used for the children in the towns and for the children of the farmers in the farmhouses near the town. For the latter, going to the nearest school was an arduous undertaking, as told in a curious book " I percorsi della memoria " by the wise author of the Chiane, Graziella Faralli published by the Cultural Association l'Astrolabio recently presented in La Fratta in Sinalunga.
We are around the end of the 40s and 50s, we wanted to give a minimum amount of schooling to the children, to collect them there was a multi-class school with a teacher who was frequently replaced. The teacher was also thin, often staying far from the school and he too came on foot like the citizens. They could go to school, strictly on foot, only after they had done their work on the farm, looked after cows, pigs and so on. They were so tired that they often didn't even have time to have breakfast and with a piece of dry bread in their school bags they set off for school. The paths in winter were very difficult and the children often sank up to their ankles in mud and arrived at class soaked and cold. But they resisted, hardened and encouraged by being together and learning good notions.

The schools were drafty, cold and the teachers could only warm their hands with the embers of the heater. Things certainly went better at the school on the noble La Fratta farm in Sinalunga managed with loving generosity by the owners, the Galeotti Ottieri della Ciaja family who still own it today. The school was run by nuns who with rigor and diligence tried to make the farmers' children literate. Since the boys were quite free-range, in the country schools in those days there was no shortage of severe punishments: blows of the wand, pulling of the ears, kneeling behind the blackboard or sitting on the wall on the grains of corn. And everyone remained silent, including parents. For these children, school was the only cultural moment in which they met to be together, to socialize: the rest of the time they spent working in the fields or in the stables. Obviously the time for doing homework was also limited, often in the evening by the light of the fireplace or a dim oil lamp, during the vigils, the children tried to read, write and do arithmetic while the housewife and all the numerous members family, they took turns in stories, songs and ditties which were often a challenge to study! To increase literacy, evening school was also introduced which allowed many to reach a decent level of preparation without neglecting work. So from the darkness of the countryside, you could see the acetylene lights slowly approaching the school appearing from every direction: a touching image that only the older ones now remember. This and more in the precious story I percorsi della memoria available at the Sinalunga Railway Station newsstand.

Valentina Niccolai

  • I percorsi della Memoria Graziella Faralli

  • La Fratta, scuola di campagna

  • Contadini in Valdichiana

  • Associazione Culturale l\\\`Astrolabio



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