The harvest in Cinque Terre was an exhausting, but exhilarating phase. It represented the final step of the complex and laborious cultivation of the vine: a massive task due to the harshness of the territory.
People used to work all-year round and lived out of what they produced and using the small amount of money coming from the sale of the wine. The villages spent twenty days in feverish activity.
Early in the morning the streets were filled with people of all ages. Men, women, young people and even older people with “corbe” (large wicker basket with four handles) and “paniere” (round wicker basket); they were all over the countryside, talking loudly, in a festive atmosphere.The elderly were detaching the clusters, cleaned them from rotting, discarded those unripe, divided the white from the red grapes and then prepared the loads. This was a tiring and boring work that the youngsters disdained, preferring to go back and forth with well-filled “corbe” and “paniere”.
Men carried the “corbe” on their shoulders, loading them on a “pagettu” (from the Latin “Paliarum” jute sack filled with straw to make the basket softer), burlap sack stuffed with straw or vine leaves to make the basket softer, while women carried the “paniere” on their head and placed it on a rolled burlap sack, or “varcu” (from the Germanic “Walkan” that means wrap up carelessly).
During the long itinerary from the vineyards to the cellar, carriers (in dialect called “camalli”) stopped one or more times depending on the difficulty and length of the path, laying the “corbe” filled up to the ridge, on the stone walls that marked the path (in dialect “pusela”) trying to recharge energy for the final effort.
Many young people from the neighboring hilly areas were ready to help transporting the grapes and in the evening, despite the great fatigue, there was a big party with dancing and wine for everybody!
The photos are by André Leuba, Eduard Kopp and Anselmo Crovara kept in the Archives of Memory Anselmo Crovara in Via Aldo Rollandi in Manarola