10.08.2013 11:56

§   The abandonment of the mountains   §          

After the Second World War the town of Monghidoro and its surrounding areas started to depopulate as hundreds of people migrated in both the northern Italian industrial cities and abroad.

It is well documented that the exodus to foreign countries began at the end of the 1800s.

In the beginning, the migrations were exclusively male and often seasonal. During the winter months, many went to work in the iron and coal mines of France, Germany and Belgium.

Migration increased during the period of the fascist regime, mainly for political reasons. Also at this time, a few “Monghidoresi” crossed the Atlantic Ocean by ship, often illegally, to go to the Americas, but the usual destinations were those already mentioned.

In 1924, seven men from Monghidoro settled in Quenast, a small town in Belgium, to work in the local porphyry quarries. In 1946 a superintendent of those quarries went to Monghidoro to recruit more workers. Thirty-three set out immediately while others joined them during the following years.

Entire families left behind loved ones, acquaintances and friends in search of a better tomorrow, which began precisely with the hard work in the quarries.

The stonemasons had to cut and shape 1000 cubes per day, sitting on the bare ground.

To shield themselves from the sun, the rain or the snow, they used straw walls and to protect themselves from the cold they would stuff crumpled paper and straw inside their trousers, sweaters and inside their wooden clogs.

The ties of many from Rebecq-Quenast with their ancestral hometown of Monghidoro have remained alive over time, so much so that in 2002 the two towns formally twinned.

Text by Vittoria Comellini