‘I Mistieri’ – Professions/Trades, both popular and bygone

les métiers C & L CorseBefore progress made its’ way to remote villages in the mountains, peddlers who ran their goods using donkeys/mules, were essential to the everyday survival of community life. It’s thanks to the ‘artigianu’ (craftsmen) that many villages acquired and cultivated their fame. The most well off and populous region of Corsica, the ‘Castagniccia’, was the most representative as regards these professions, nowadays disappeared.

Orezza, highly populated and renowned for its’ water, had many artisans; the ‘mulateri‘ (mule-drivers) were known all over the region. Their help was requested for the transport of wood, coal, and iron ore that was extracted from Campana etc., they also delighted those experiencing hydrotherapy.

Valle d’Orezza had no less than ten ‘pipaghji‘ (pipe-makers). It was in Piazzole that one could buy the ‘sporte’ (basket) at the ‘sportaghju‘ (basket-makers), in order to gather the chestnuts. Munacia d’Orezza specialised in pottery (terrame); and in Tàrranu, more precisely in the hamlet of Bonicardo, one could find ‘l’armaghjolu‘ (gunsmith) who made the famous ‘catana’ (named after the manufacturer) from where Pasquale Paoli supplied himself.

‘U bancalaru’ (the carpenter) was an essential artisan that could be found in every town; from doors, windows, stairs, dough trough – cellar to attic, cradle to the grave, the carpenter gave the chestnut the acclaim it deserved. Another figure who played an important role in the Corsican society was ‘u stazzonaru’, the blacksmith. He made and repaired all the necessary tools for agriculture, shooed the horses, knew how to transform a simple plate of iron, and often had to become a veterinarian in order to care for a sick animal – or even a dentist, to extract a tooth, or a doctor to treat certain pains, such as sciatica.

And then, there were the peddlers (i scatulaghji) who created events, arousing the curiosity of the villagers and delighting the children. They could be heard from afar, arriving behind their heavily loaded mules, advancing laboriously, in rhythm with their ‘campana’ (bell). Children would run ahead to meet and escort them to the village, where everybody was impatient to see them unload. les métiers C & L Corse (2)

In turn:
‘U bancarrotu’ for which women took a special interest in their haberdashery, fabrics and colourful materials.

‘U tragulinu’ who transported bags of food and a multitude of objects for which they exaggerated the advantages, often resulting in fooling the villagers.

‘U carritteru’ who came from the city, roaming the villages with his furniture, utensils and other varied objects, delivering to shopkeepers. All the villagers hurried to see the wares, and new additions. At nightfall, there was always a family ready to offer their hospitality, and the following morning, taking to the road, off he headed.

In a region where breadfruit provided farmers with their necessary food, it was of course normal to come across at least one mill per town.

U mulinaghju‘ (the miller) reigned as master of his watermill. All the inhabitants of the village brought him their chestnuts to be ground.

Let us remember the weaver for the linen, sheets and ‘peloni’ and where the most important factories could be found in Corti, the Niolu, Venacu, Bucugnà, and Siscu.

Pottery, from the villages of Campile and Canavaghja. The most important of all the industries remains the exploitation of the big marble quarries in Corti, Serraggio, San-Gavinu di Venacu, Castifao, Oletta and San Fiurenzu.

Many of the smaller businesses were just swept away by progress. The bootmaker (u scarparu), the tailor (u tissore), the coal merchant (u carbonaru), the coppersmith (u paghjolaghju), etc., all ceasing to exist and abandoning their bells and their exhausted carts to the forever advancing progress. Today, only the baker and postman continue to roam the few inhabited villages of this Castagniccia, once so glorious.

Source: Contes & Légendes Corse Copyright ©

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