By Rosario Mariani, http://www.europebychoice.com
A possible origin of the expression “CAFONE “ comes from the Southern part of Lazio and Campania.
In the 15th century, peasants coming from mountain villages, would go to live-stock fairs to buy cattle to be put to work to plow the fields, to make cheese and eventually to be slaughtered for meat products.
Most of these peasants lacked education and were often rude and crude. They appeared at the fairs with ropes (Ca ’Fun ) around their shoulders in order to tie up the animals and walk them back to their villages. They were referred to as the “ Ca ‘Fune.” (hence CAFONI) and were looked down upon by the local people.
By the 20th century, the Cafoni could no longer support their families as peasants and had to, therefore, leave their small villages and seek work either in Northern Italy, Europe or the Americas. They packed their one-shabby suitcase with their few belongings and walked many miles to the nearest train station or seaport for a long and lonely journey away from home. To insure their bags would last for the duration of their trip, most would use rope (“ LA FUNE”) to secure their belongings. They too were referred to as Cafoni.
On a recent trip to Italy I visited Montelapiano, a small village in the province of Chieti, which has a population of only 88 persons, and like many other towns in Central and Southern Italy, it witnessed a great migration which severely reduced the population in the last 70 years.
To commemorate this great exodus , the town of Montelapiano commissioned a statue to honor the immigrant leaving town and adventuring into a much bigger world. Take a close look at the suitcase and you will notice “la Fune” tied around it.
Most came to America and their children, grandchildren and great- grandchildren are enjoying the American dream thanks these forgotten heroes.
Did you know?
The night of January 20 is “Saint Agnes’s Eve”, which is regarded as a time when a young woman dreams of her future husband.
Rosario Mariani is the owner/CEO of Europe By Choice, which promotes travel to Italy and other select European countries. He has more than 40 years of experience in the travel industry, previously serving as Director of Italy Product for Italiatour and Club ABC Tours, and also in other positions with EuroFly, Alitalia and Air France.