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Trading Products

of the Berici Hills

The grocer or casolin

In the countryside there were only a few products people would buy at the grocer's: oil, salt, sugar, always purchased with a little mistrust when it came to weighing them: "eight ounces to many, nine to a few and ten to none" was thought to be a grocer's motto. Debts were recorded in the debtors' register, and were settled at harvest time or when a relative who was working abroad would sent some money home.

The innkeeper or osto

The inn was men's meeting place, especially on saturdays and sundays, where they would chat, discuss some business, play cards. Glass of wine by glass of wine, they would eventully all got to singing time. Wives were accustomed to go and fetch their husbands when they were too drunk to find their way home.
In order to meet every costumer's wishes, an innkeeper had to be as nice a man as he could be, yet imposing enough as to make sure everybody paid their drinks.


The chicken-seller (polastraro) would roam from farm to farm to buy chickens, hens, eggs. The breeding of fowls was women's business, and they could independently choose what to do with them: the money they earned so they would invest in their doughters' dowries or in occasional purchases.

Ragmen (strassari) also used to journey farms collecting old clothes, pig-bones and -skin, rabbit and mole-fur, goose-feathers and bric-a-brac.

The candyman (el sagraro), would stand near the churchgate on Sundays or holydays holding a basket full of sweets that was every child's most cherished desire.

S.Caterina's fair in Barbarano would be attended by the paper-seller who sold pieces of paper with popular songs' lyrics on them. Playing his accordion the "tajadela" would put up a show to entertain passers-by and lure them into buying the score. The last resort an old man with no living could turn to was begging. Covered in rags, ill-looking, the "poorman" would peep out at a farm's door mumbling: "Some charity, for God's sake" often getting some change, bread or a plate of soup.

A peculiar character was the torototela, a wandering storyteller who would entertain people at busy ceremonies or fairs in exchange for some money or food.