Curiosities of the past

Curiosities of the past – text by Nello Tambasco, citizen of Pisciotta

Following the conquest of southern Italy by the Normans, the name Pissocta is mentioned for the first time in the catalog of the Barons, the list of all the vassals and their possessions, drawn up around the twelfth century AD. The earliest documentary evidence are of year 1200, when Pisciotta entertained business relations with the Republic of Venice. From Pisciotta to the Serenissima were exported vegetal ropes. These were produced by weaving the leaves of Spartan grass, widespread in the territory, known in the local dialect as “agre” (sour). The production of ropes was maintained until the entire first half of 1900. In the first half of 1700 Pisciotta was among the most populated centers south of Salerno. After three centuries the number of inhabitants has remained more or less the same. The economic activity of Pisciotta has always had two driving components: fishing and agriculture and, in particular, fishing for anchovies with the special net “menaide”, and cultivation of olives and vines. Already in 1600 there are sources that document the existence of the seaside village of Pisciotta. The settlement stretched on the beach, where there were the stores for the fishing boats, the equipment and where also were stored the salted anchovies. By the time the houses, at first only with ground floor, had the first floor, then the second and so until the fourth. Even today the village preserves this feature along the beach, on the whole waterfront, from the area south-east in location Passariello, up to the area north-west, location Gozzipuodi. The storehouses reach an average depth of 15 meters, have a barrel vault and they are all with wide arches. At the end all have a tank with fresh spring water, carved into the rock. These features are still present today.

The work of the inhabitants of Pisciotta had a cycle regulated by the seasons. In spring and summer men fished. Those same men were also farmers, and in the fall, were busy in the grape harvest. Soon after, until the end of winter, they dedicated themselves to the olive harvest: So the main products that supported the local economy were three: the fish, especially anchovies fished with the menaide net, wine and oil. Until 1950 Pisciotta armed twenty boats used for fishing of anchovies with the menaide nets. In those same years were in operation, on average, more than 30 mills for the pressing of the olives. In particular, at the end of 1700 were set up about 10 water mills, of which there are still evident traces, like the wheels and the ruins. So the arms of our town allows you to quickly identify the particularities of Pisciotta. There is a shield divided into two basic elements of the territory and the life of the town, the land and the sea, trees and boats...oil and anchovies. And not only. From the bottom of the weapon there are forking two branches, one olive and the other holm: once Pisciotta was also famous for the production of coal and wood crafts.