By Rosario Mariani, http://www.europebychoice.com
“Impara l’arte e mettela da parte” – “Learn a trade and put it aside”.
Regional dialects of Italy are rich in proverbs.
Proverbs were particularly important during the turn of the 19th century as many poor and under-privileged Italians immigrated to far-away lands and needed a set of rules to guide them through the uncertainties of what may lay ahead.
In the states, many new opportunities arose for the new generation as they learned and assimilated to the American culture.
Parents from the old world could not understand how their children could venture into new endeavors without risking failure or not being able to be self-sufficient. So, many concerned parents would utter the following proverb to their children during dinner time; ricordatevi, figli miei, di “Imparare l’arte e mettetela da parte”.
In 1910, Pietro Como and Lucia Travaglini arrived in the USA from Palena in the province of Chieti. In 1912, their first American boy, Pierino (Perry), was born in Canonsburg, PA. Pierino was quite talented and loved musical instruments and aspired to become a singer or a musician. Pietro understood this but wanted to his son to make a decent living and support himself.
Peirino respected his father’s wishes and learned to become a barber by the age of 10. He was short and thus had to stand on a box to give haircuts.
By age 14, not only was Pierino a good barber, but he had hired two other boys and ran his own shop. His father passed away, during this time, and Pierino was able to support his family from practicing his trade.
But, Pierino also wanted to pursue his singing career and, as we all know, his voice warmed our hearts for many decades that followed. Perry Como was always confident that if things failed he could always go back to being a barber.
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.