Professional emigration: seasonal workers in the "Germanys"

Section 3 of 12   back - next

The rapid development of the cities, streets and rail systems that occurred in central Europe in the second half of the 1800s called out to the entire masculine work-force in the western Alpine area in the middle of the growing season.

The mechanisms which made the countries of great capitalistic development of the Danube's Europe attractive predominated, therefore, on those of expulsion.

Until then, expulsion had characterized the Friuli mountains and had determined the reduced migratory flow which was implicit in the "life-style" of the mountain populations.

The harvests frequently sparse, were unable to supply even partial sustenance for the winter needs which had grown and become diverse.

The economic equilibrium, therefore, was always less stable and not only due to the demographic growth and to the impoverishment of the mountain but also because of the fiscal pressures from the Italian state.

The proceeds of temporary emigration, the remittances, became the economic base of the mountain, financing, under the form of direct and indirect taxes, the construction of the "infrastructures" but above all supporting the domestic budget of the families that remained in the country.

In the Friuli mountains, together with the skilled labourers, stone masons and stonecutters who followed the major infrastructure jobs even in the steppes of Russia, lived grinders, tinsmiths, basket weavers, metal workers, salesmen of wooden crockery and "traffickers" of all types.

It had to do, however, with practices normally entrusted to the weaker categories of the work hierarchy, such as women, or to those who were more reluctant to acknowledge the transformations that, in the local circle, gradually became apparent in the work market and tended to cancel hand-crafted productions.

They aimed to satisfy the domestic needs of a self-sufficient and community economy.