Working At Home


Stone-cutters or priari

Amongst home-based jobs, ever since ancient times stone-cutting was one of the most common in Berici Hills, because of the abundance of workable stone.

Many artists in Val Liona and on both sides of the Hills keep alive this century-old traditional activity

Cobblers or scarpari

Cobblers not only repaired shoes, but also made sgolmare,ie, wooden clogs with a leather outsole especially looked for in winter markets.

Women wore zopui cogs with a wooden sole. Wandering cobblers would stop at the better-off families' and sleep in the barn or stable; in exchange for hospitality they would repair shoes and animals' harnesses.

Blacksmiths or favari

In their forges favari would make barrel-rings and cart-wheels, shoe horses and mules, make farming tools and window-grates.

Blacksmiths also sharpened worned-out picks millers used to carve little channels in millstones when these had disappeared.

Carpenters or marangoni

House forniture was scarse: one master bed consisting of boards leaning on trestles, a trousseau, a wardrobe or chest-of-drawers, a large kitchen-table with straw-bottom chairs and a cupboard (cantonale).

Carpenters would take care of houses' wooden features and beams, barrels and carts (although this was better a carraio's job), employing local tree-woods: chestnut-tree, oak, walnut-tree and others.

Bakers or fornari

Bakers used to be very few in older days, as peasant people's daily bread was polenta.

As economical conditions improved, bakers started making bread with the flour every single costumer would bring with him. Since it was to last for many days, it would usually be biscuited bread, that is, bread baked repeatedly until it was hard, and that was later softened in water or milk before eating.

Millers or munari

There were many water mills in Val Liona, Alonte, Vo' di Brendola, Scaranto di Barbarano, Mossano and Fimon. In the Middle Ages the right of building a mill had to be granted by Vicenza's Bishop or the local feudal lord; later the Republic of Venice strictly regulamentated the use of public waters.

It was hard for costumers to be sure about a miller's honesty, and it was rumoured that they would secretely vow: Cross my heart I'll always steal, never stop, never give back, unless I die.Amen.

Taylors or sartori

A maiden's dowry was prepared at home, during evening spare time, and it would slowly grow to be one of the family's most valued riches.

Before the wedding its value was to be assessed by a taylor in the presence of witnesses.

Fabrics were woven with the family looms, with home-spinned sheep hair or hemp.

The taylor would prepare the groom's suit, that he would later wear in all important occasions and ceremonies.

Chair-makers or caregheti

Chair-makers would wander from village to village looking for clients, carring a faja de caressa (a bundle of sedge) on their back, a kind of resistent swamp grass

To make a chair's legs green chestnut-wood was used: drying, it would tightly gripped the nails, so no glue was needed.

On the back of chairs the initials of the owner were sometimes fire-marked.

Knife-sharpeners or moleti

Knife-sharpeners would attend markets and fairs, looking for costumers who needed their kitchen-knives, scissors or axes to be sharpened. The sharpening-wheel was carried about in a wheelbarrow or a sturdy bicycle and was pedal-operated.

Knives were eventually hand-sharpened with a polishing stone until they were "as thin as a rasor and you could shave your beard with it".

Tin-merchants or mistri

Tin-merchants would repair damaged pots, buckets or cauldrons.

He could attach handles, close holes in the bottom of pots and give pots for rent to those who couldn't afford to buy one.

Umbrells-makers or ombrelari

In busy markets you could find umbrella-makers: they would repair broken handles, change umbrella-ribs and repair the cover.

Unfortunately umbrellas were not much used by peasants, and so often umbrella-makers were forced to beg for a living....