Monday, May 4, 2020

On the Front Line - Interview with Rosalba Cicale, Certified and Registered Nurse

On the Front Line

Interview with

Rosalba Cicale, Certified and Registered Nurse

Ripalta, known to family and friends simply as 'Tina', a dear friend of mine who unfortunately is no longer among us, one day said to me “Teresa, I have the best job in the world! You cannot have a job like mine or that of a physician just to get a salary at the end of each month. You must feel it as your true vocation, as your call."

Tina was a nurse who loved what she did. She loved studying, continuously improving herself as a person and as a professional, but above all she loved helping others, taking care of them, and seeing their health restored. She was a first class lady, an exceptional nurse, an exemplary mother, and wife.

I will always carry her in my heart.

Even today, I feel honored to have doctors and nurses among my closest friends who go above and beyond what their role would require at work. And this without mentioning the fact that, in addition to being underpaid and under-staffed for too long due to wicked and irresponsible policies, they also have a family and every day they run the risk of being infected – especially in times like this in which we witness the spread of a pandemic such as COVID-19 which makes them live in a continuous state of concern (hence of stress) for their own health and that of their family members.

Today, I am very happy, therefore, to introduce to all of you a special friend who, in addition to being an extraordinary mother and woman, is also a nurse: Rosalba Cicale. Rosalba is also very knowledgeable and competent and, like many of her colleagues, not only Italian but from all over the world, she fights "on the front line" for the health of all of us – even of those who, despite the seriousness of the worldwide current situation, continue to look only 'to their own backyard' feeling absolutely safe, untouchable, immune to any danger and risk of contagion while the number of the latter, and unfortunately also of the deaths, continues to rise.

MTDD: Hi Rosalba and welcome to my Blog and Virtual Cultural Lounge. Thank you very much for taking the time to participate in our interview.

RC: Thanks to you.

MTDD: Rosalba, why don't you start by introducing yourself and by telling us a little about yourself, from your studies to your profession and whatever else you want to share with our male and female readers?

RC: I am 54 years old and have been already 35 years in service in the healthcare field. I am married, have 2 children and 2 grandchildren; I love gardening. I started my career at 16 years old (2 years of teacher training college with admission to the third year) – which was one of the options in those days. I attended the professional nurse training at the 'Agostino Gemelli' Hospital in Rome.

MTDD: Why did you opt for this career?

RC: When I was 10 years old, my father had a terrible accident and was hospitalized for 3 months. When I went to see him I saw these nurses being so cheerful in the ward and it enchanted me. And so I decided to go for this career...

MTDD: What specializations have you achieved and in which departments have you worked so far?

RC: I graduated from the Gemelli Polyclinic and then I took the specialization in Anesthesia and Resuscitation. I worked many years (18) in Surgery and Intensive Care. During the summer they sent me to the Emergency room because I was the youngest; later I worked in Audiology and Pediatrics for 2 years; then I spent a few years in Histopathology and now I am in a multidisciplinary DAY Hospital, but above all I am an R.A.I. (Responsabile Assistenza Infermieristica, that is, Nursing Care Supervisor) of Eye Surgery (I hope only for a little while longer because I would really like to go back to my nursing activity...)

MTDD: Tell us about your typical day at work.

RC: A 'simple' day is difficult to have ... But it should go more or less like this: you clock in, put your uniform on, reach your department, consult with your colleague, that is, the one who has just finished their shift and that you are going to replace.  We take stock of the department (interventions, exams, samples ...). We organize ourselves as for therapies, beds, medical examination; we divide the work according to how many we are and who we are, and then start with our own tasks (job).  Once all is done, we return to the Back-office and record the various data; if we succeed we take a break (something that happens very rarely), sometimes we are lucky though ... Then we do the briefing with the physicians and the Chief Medical Officer.  If needed, modifications are made to some therapies and new clinical tests are required; the surgical list is prepared ... Then everything is recorded again in the nursing records and in the PC programs. Considering the various bells that ring (that is, people calling us for assistance) and the unexpected events that may take place we reached the time of shift change. The various emergencies and contingencies are briefly explained to the colleagues of the following shift. We greet everybody and clock out. We change and go home to be mothers, grandmothers, wives, daughters ...

MTDD: What would you recommend to children who, by reading our interview, might decide to undertake this career?

RC: If you really like this job, go for it, otherwise it is not a job that you can get to simply make a living ... This involves a kind of 'life' you must like: you will be living at night while the world will be sleeping ...

MTDD: How has health care changed over the years since you started working as a nurse until today?

RC: Very much indeed... We as professionals have 'grown'; we have evolved, kept ourselves updated, also because medicine goes on and we must always be ready to understand and do new things. But as acknowledgments to the profession, as salaries and as considerations by the Government or the public, we have lost a lot. We are considered the 'medical malpractice' or 'the little smart aleck” when it comes to working hours...

MTDD: If we wished to talk about the ‘advantages’ and ‘disadvantages’ of 
your work, what would you indicate?
RC: The advantage is that you will be doing something good, useful. Being up to a situation or dealing with emergencies is rewarding. The disadvantages are a little more ... Arriving at or missing some ceremony because of your shift or because your colleague couldn’t come at work, the salary, the holidays, the user who looks at us with suspicion, the holidays (as in this period) that are being revoked ...

MTDD: If you had the opportunity to go directly to politicians and institutions, what suggestions would you give? Where should we start to improve the situation?

RC: First of all from the materials: those that give us, both in quantity and in quality, are very scarce ... They should hire to make the turnover with us older people, reopen the existing hospitals not to imprint field hospitals ... because the facilities are there !! And if they could remember us also at an economic level since the salary is always the same while the rates, the VAT, the municipal and regional surcharges keep increasing ...

MTDD: COVID-19 - How is Italy managing it and what advice would you give to all of us and especially to those who, as I mentioned at the beginning, seem to underestimate the seriousness of the problem?

RC: As I said, the Government, generally speaking, does not think about public health because its members have the opportunity to opt for the private health care system and therefore save money on the public health care system and on the health of the people and when these things take place they turn into tragedies ... but for us. However, our major health care problem is caused by the many politicians who are arrogant and disregard the opinion of the experts in our field.  I would advise the public at large to abide by the provisions.

MTDD: Is there any other information or other aspect that we have not covered and that you would like to add before ending our interview?

RC: I don't think so ... Maybe I said too much ...

MTDD: Thank you, Rosalba, for participating in this interview and for all the advices and information you have provided. Good luck to you and your colleagues. I wish to all of us that we can all stay healthy by overcoming this pandemic as soon as possible.

RC: Thank you for giving me the opportunity to make 'our' voice heard.  Let’s hope everything goes well for everyone❤️

In Prima Linea Intervista a Rosalba Cicale, Infermiera

In Prima Linea

Intervista a

Rosalba Cicale, Infermiera

Ripalta, chiamata da familiari ed amici semplicemente ‘Tina’, una mia carissima amica che purtroppo non è più tra noi, un giorno mi disse “Teresa, io ho il lavoro più bello al mondo! Un lavoro come quello mio o del medico non puoi farlo solo per avere uno stipendio a fine mese. Devi sentirlo come vera e propria vocazione, come la tua chiamata.”

Tina era un’infermiera che adorava ciò che faceva.  Amava studiare, migliorarsi continuamente come persona e come professionista, ma soprattutto amava aiutare gli altri, prendersi cura di loro e vederli riacquistare la salute. È stata una Donna con la D maiuscola, un’infermiera modello, madre e moglie esemplare.

La porterò sempre nel mio cuore.

Ancora oggi mi sento una privilegiata nell’avere tra i miei più cari amici ed amiche medici ed infermieri  che non risparmiano nulla nel loro lavoro, andando ben oltre quello che il loro ruolo richiederebbe.  E questo senza menzionare il fatto che, oltre ad essere sottopagati e da troppo tempo sotto organico a causa di politiche scellerate ed irresponsabili, hanno anche una famiglia e corrono ogni giorno rischi di contagio – soprattutto in momenti come questo in cui assistiamo al dilagarsi di una pandemia come il COVID-19 il che li fa vivere in un continuo stato di preoccupazione (quindi di stress) per la propria salute e per quella dei loro familiari.

Oggi sono, quindi, felicissima di presentarvi un’amica speciale che, oltre ad essere una Madre e Donna straordinaria, è anche un’infermiera:  Rosalba Cicale.  Anche Rosalba è molto preparata e competente e, come molti suoi colleghi e colleghe non solo italiani ma di tutto il mondo, combatte “in Prima Linea” per la salute di noi tutti – anche di coloro che, malgrado la gravità della situazione in corso a livello mondiale, continuano a guardare solo ‘al proprio orticello’ sentendosi assolutamente al sicuro, intoccabili, immuni da qualsiasi pericolo e rischio di contagio mentre il numero di questi ultimi, e purtroppo anche dei decessi, continua a salire.

MTDD: Ciao Rosalba e benvenuta nel mio Blog e Salotto Culturale Virtuale.  Grazie di cuore per esserti presa il tempo per partecipare a questa nostra intervista.

RC: Grazie a te.

MTDD: Rosalba, perché non ti presenti e ci racconti un po’ di te, dai tuoi studi alla professione e quant’altro vorrai condividere con i nostri lettori e le nostre lettrici.

RC: Ho 54 anni e 35 di servizio. Sono sposata, 2 figli, 2 nipoti, mi piace tanto fare giardinaggio. Ho cominciato la mia professione a 16 anni (2 anni di istituto magistrale con ammissione al terzo anno) - prima si poteva fare. Ho frequentato il corso da infermiera professionale all’Ospedale ‘Agostino Gemelli’ di Roma.

MTDD:  Per quale motivo hai optato per questa carriera? 

RC: Mio padre, quando avevo 10 anni, ebbe un brutto incidente e fu ricoverato per 3 mesi.   Quando lo andavo a trovare vedevo questi infermieri così allegri nel reparto e la cosa mi incantò. E così decisi…

MTDD:  Quali specializzazioni hai conseguito ed in quali reparti hai lavorato sino ad ora?

RC: Mi sono diplomata al Policlinico Gemelli e poi ho preso la specializzazione in Anestesia e Rianimazione. Ho lavorato molti anni (18) in Chirurgia e Terapia Intensiva. Nel periodo estivo mi mandavano in Pronto Soccorso poiché ero la più giovane; in Otorino e Pediatria per 2 anni; poi sono stata qualche anno in Isto-patologia e ora mi trovo in un DAY Hospital multidisciplinare, ma soprattutto sono una R.A.I. (Responsabile Assistenza Infermieristica) della Chirurgia Oculistica (spero ancora per poco perché vorrei tornare a fare l'infermiera…)

MTDD: Raccontaci una tua giornata tipica al lavoro.

RC: Una giornata 'semplice' è difficile... Però dovrebbe andare più o meno così: si timbra il cartellino, ci si mette la divisa, si arriva in reparto, si prendono le consegne. Si fa il 'punto' del reparto (interventi, esami, prelievi…).  Ci si organizza con le terapie, i letti, visita medica; dividiamo il lavoro a seconda di quanti e chi siamo, e si parte ognuno con il proprio compito (mansione).  Finito il tutto si rientra al Back-office e si registrano i vari dati; se ci si riesce facciamo il break (difficile), a volte siamo fortunati… Poi si fa il briefing con i medici e il Primario. Si fanno le varie modifiche alle terapie se serve e si richiedono nuovi esami clinici; si prepara la lista operatoria... Poi si registra di nuovo il tutto nelle cartelle infermieristiche e nei programmi del PC. Considerando i vari campanelli che suonano e gli imprevisti siamo arrivati all'ora del cambio-turno. Si spiega ai colleghi brevemente le varie emergenze e imprevisti. Si saluta e si timbra l’uscita. Ci si cambia e via verso casa a fare le mamme, nonne, mogli, figlie…

MTDD: Cosa consiglieresti ai ragazzi che, leggendo questa nostra intervista, decidessero di intraprendere questa professione?

RC: Se questo lavoro vi piace veramente fatelo, altrimenti non è un lavoro che si può fare come ripiego tanto per fare qualcosa… È un tipo di ‘vita' che deve piacere: vivere di notte mentre il mondo dorme…

MTDD: Com’è cambiata la Sanità negli anni, da quando hai iniziato a lavorare come infermiera sino ad oggi?

RC: Tanto… Noi come professionisti siamo 'cresciuti', ci siamo evoluti, aggiornati, anche perché la medicina va avanti e noi dobbiamo sempre essere pronti a capire e a fare cose nuove. Ma come riconoscimenti alla professione, come stipendi e come considerazioni da parte dello stato o degli utenti abbiamo perso tanto. Veniamo considerati la 'malasanità' o 'i furbetti del cartellino'...

MTDD: Se volessimo parlare di “vantaggi” e “svantaggi” del tuo lavoro, cosa indicheresti?

RC: Il vantaggio è di fare qualcosa di buono, di utile. L’essere all'altezza di una situazione o il misurarsi con le emergenze è gratificante. Gli svantaggi sono un po' di più… Arrivare o mancare a qualche cerimonia perché si è di turno o non c'è stato il cambio, lo stipendio, le feste, l'utente che ormai è prevenuto nei nostri confronti, le ferie (come in questo periodo) revocate…

MTDD: Se avessi la possibilità di rivolgerti direttamente ai politici e alle istituzioni, che suggerimenti daresti? Da dove dovremmo partire per migliorare la situazione?

RC: Prima di tutto dai materiali: quelli che ci danno, sia come quantità che come qualità, sono molto scarsi… Dovrebbero assumere per fare il turnover con noi vecchi, riaprire gli ospedali già esistenti non improntare ospedali da campo… perché le strutture ci sono!! E se si potessero ricordare di noi anche a livello economico visto che lo stipendio è sempre quello mentre le aliquote, l’IVA, le addizionali comunali e regionali aumentano…

MTDD: COVID-19 – Come lo sta gestendo a tuo avviso l’Italia e quali consigli daresti a noi tutti e soprattutto a coloro che, come ho menzionato all’inizio, sembrano sottovalutare la gravità del problema?

RC: Come dicevo lo Stato, in linea generale, non pensa alla sanità pubblica perché lo Stato ha la possibilità di curarsi privatamente e quindi taglia sul pubblico e sulla salute del popolo e quando succedono queste cose diventano tragedie… ma per noi. Comunque il nostro problema sanitario sono molti politici che sono arroganti e non tengono conto degli esperti.  Al pubblico in generale consiglierei di attenersi alle disposizioni.

MTDD: Ci sono altre informazioni o altri aspetti che non abbiamo trattato e che vorresti aggiungere prima di concludere la nostra intervista?

RC: Non penso… Forse ho detto anche troppo…

MTDD: Grazie, Rosalba, per aver partecipato a questa intervista e per tutti i consigli e le informazioni che ci hai provveduto.  Buon lavoro a te e ai tuoi colleghi e che possiate e possiamo restare noi tutti in salute superando quanto prima questa pandemia.

RC: Grazie a te che mi hai dato la possibilità di far sentire la 'nostra' voce. Speriamo bene per tutti❤️

An der Front - Interview mit Rosalba Cicale, zertifizierte und registrierte Krankenschwester

An der Front

Interview mit

Rosalba Cicale, zertifizierte und registrierte Krankenschwester

Ripalta, der Familie und Freunden einfach als 'Tina' bekannt war, eine liebe Freundin von mir, die leider nicht mehr unter uns ist, sagte eines Tages zu mir: "Teresa, ich habe den besten Job der Welt! Sie können keinen Job wie meinen oder den eines Arztes haben, nur um am Ende eines jeden Monats ein Gehalt zu bekommen. Sie müssen es als Ihre wahre Berufung fühlen, als Ihren Ruf. "

Tina war eine Krankenschwester, die liebte, was sie tat. Sie liebte das Lernen, sich als Person und als Fachkraft kontinuierlich zu verbessern, aber vor allem liebte sie es, anderen zu helfen, sich um sie zu kümmern und ihre Gesundheit wiederherzustellen. Sie war eine erstklassige Frau, eine außergewöhnliche Krankenschwester, eine vorbildliche Mutter und Frau.

Ich werde sie immer in meinem Herzen tragen.

Noch heute fühle ich mich geehrt, Ärzte und Krankenschwestern unter meinen engsten Freunden zu haben, die über das hinausgehen, was ihre Rolle bei der Arbeit erfordern würde. Und dies ohne die Tatsache zu erwähnen, dass sie nicht nur aufgrund böser und verantwortungsloser Richtlinien zu lange unterbezahlt und unterbesetzt sind, sondern auch eine Familie haben und jeden Tag das Risiko einer Infektion eingehen - insbesondere in Zeiten wie diesen, in denen wir die Ausbreitung einer Pandemie wie COVID-19 erleben, die sie in einem ständigen Zustand der Sorge (daher des Stresses) um ihre eigene Gesundheit und die ihrer Familienmitglieder leben lässt.

Daher freue ich mich sehr, Euch allen eine besondere Freundin vorstellen zu können, die nicht nur eine außergewöhnliche Mutter und Frau ist, sondern auch eine Krankenschwester: Rosalba Cicale. Rosalba ist auch gut ausgebildete und fähige und wie viele ihrer Kollegen, nicht nur Italiener, sondern aus aller Welt, kämpft sie "an vorderster Front" für die Gesundheit von uns allen - auch von denen, die trotz der Ernsthaftigkeit der gegenwärtigen Situation weltweit weiterhin nur "in ihren eigenen Garten" schauen und sich absolut sicher, unantastbar, immun gegen jede Gefahr und jedes Risiko einer Ansteckung fühlen, während die Anzahl der letzteren und leider auch der Todesfälle weiter ansteigt.

MTDD: Hallo Rosalba und willkommen in meinem Blog und meiner Virtual Cultural Lounge. Vielen Dank, dass Du Dich die Zeit genommen hast, an unserem Interview teilzunehmen.

RC: Danke dir.

MTDD: Rosalba, warum stellst Du Dich nicht vor und erzählst uns ein wenig über Dich, von Deinem Studium bis zu Deinem Beruf und was auch immer Du mit unseren Lesern und Leserinnen teilen möchtest.

RC: Ich bin 54 Jahre alt und schon 35 Jahre im Dienst. Ich bin verheiratet, habe 2 Kinder und 2 Enkelkinder; ich liebe Gartenarbeit. Ich habe meinen Beruf mit 16 Jahren begonnen (nach 2 Jahren
von Lehrerausbildung Hochschule mit Zulassung zum dritten Jahr) - bevor war diese Option möglich. Ich besuchte den professionellen Krankenschwesterkurs im Krankenhaus 'Agostino Gemelli' in Rom.

MTDD: Warum hast Du Dich für diese Karriere entschieden?

RC: Als ich 10 Jahre alt war, hatte mein Vater einen schweren Unfall und wurde 3 Monate lang ins Krankenhaus eingeliefert. Als ich ihn besuchte, sah ich dieses Pflegepersonal auf der Station so fröhlich und es verzauberte mich. Und so entschied ich mich eine Krankenschwester zu werden...

MTDD: Welche Spezialisierungen hast Du erreicht und in welchen Abteilungen bisher gearbeitet?

RC: Ich habe die Gemelli-Poliklinik Ausbildung und Praktikum abgeschlossen und mich dann auf Anästhesie und Wiederbelebung spezialisiert. Ich habe viele Jahre (18) in der Chirurgie und Intensivmedizin gearbeitet. Im Sommer schickten sie mich in die Notaufnahme, weil ich der jüngste war; in Otorino und Pädiatrie arbeitete ich 2 Jahre; damals war ich ein paar Jahre in der Histopathologie und jetzt bin ich in einem multidisziplinären DAY Hospital, aber vor allem bin ich ein R.A.I. (Responsabile Assistenza Infermieristica, dh. Leiterin des Pflegepersonals) für Augenchirurgie (ich hoffe nur für eine Weile noch, weil ich wieder als Krankenschwester arbeiten möchte ...)

MTDD: Erzähle uns von Deinem typischen Arbeitstag.

RC: Ein 'einfacher' Tag ist schwierig ... Aber es sollte mehr oder weniger so verlaufen: wir stempeln die Karte, ziehen die Uniform an, kommen in der Abteilung an, nehmen die Lieferung entgegen. Der 'Punkt' der Abteilung wird gemacht (Interventionen, Prüfungen, Proben ...). Wir organisieren uns mit Therapien, Betten, ärztlicher Untersuchung; wir teilen die Arbeit danach auf, wie viele und wer wir sind, und wir beginnen jeweils mit unserer eigenen Aufgabe (Kompetenz). Sobald alles erledigt ist, kehren wir zum Backoffice zurück und zeichnen die verschiedenen Daten auf. Wenn es uns gelingt, brechen wir (schwierig zu passieren), manchmal haben wir Glück ... Dann machen wir das Briefing mit den Ärzten und der Grundschule. Bei Bedarf werden verschiedene Änderungen an den Therapien vorgenommen, und neue klinische Tests erforderlich. Die Operationsliste wird erstellt ... Dann wird alles erneut in den Pflegeunterlagen und in den PC-Programmen aufgezeichnet. In Anbetracht der verschiedenen Glocken, die läuten, und des Unerwarteten kamen wir zum Zeitpunkt des Schichtwechsels an. Die verschiedenen Notfälle und Eventualitäten werden den Kollegen kurz erklärt. Wir begrüßen und stampfen den Ausgang. Wir ziehen uns um und gehen nach Hause, um Mütter, Großmütter, Frauen, Töchter zu sein...

MTDD: Was würdest Du Kindern empfehlen, die sich beim Lesen unseres Interviews für diesen Beruf entscheiden?

RC: Wenn du diesen Job wirklich magst, mach es, sonst ist es kein Job, der als Ersatz für etwas gemacht werden kann ... Es ist eine Art 'Leben', das gefallen muss: nachts leben, während die Welt schläft ...

MTDD: Wie hat sich die Gesundheitsversorgung im Laufe der Jahre verändert, seit Du bis heute als Krankenschwester gearbeitet hast?

RC: Sie hat sich viel geändert... Wir als Profis sind 'gewachsen', wir haben uns weiterentwickelt, aktualisiert, auch weil die Medizin weitergeht und wir immer bereit sein müssen, neue Dinge zu verstehen und zu tun. Aber als Anerkennung für den Beruf, als Gehälter und als Überlegungen des Staates oder der Nutzer haben wir viel verloren. Wir gelten als "medizinisches Fehlverhalten" oder "klug des Etiketts" ...

MTDD: Wenn wir über die "Vor- und Nachteile" Deiner Arbeit sprechen wollten, was würdest Du angeben?

RC: Der Vorteil ist, etwas Gutes und Nützliches zu tun. Sich einer Situation zu stellen oder mit Notfällen umzugehen, lohnt sich. Die Nachteile sind ein bisschen mehr ... Ankunft oder Fehlen bei einer Zeremonie, weil es die Schicht war oder es keine Änderung gab, das Gehalt, die Feiertage, der Benutzer, der jetzt von uns abgehalten wird, die Feiertage (wie in dieser Zeit) widerrufen ...

MTDD: Wenn Du die Möglichkeit hättest, direkt zu Politikern und Institutionen zu gehen, welche Vorschläge würdest Du machen? Wo sollen wir anfangen, die Situation zu verbessern?

RC: Zuallererst von den Materialien: Diejenigen, die uns sowohl in quantitativer als auch in qualitativer Hinsicht geben, sehr selten sind ... Sie sollten einstellen, um mit uns alten Leuten den Umsatz zu erzielen, die bestehenden Krankenhäuser wieder zu öffnen, um keine Feldkrankenhäuser zu prägen ... weil die Einrichtungen dort sind!! Und wenn sie sich auch auf wirtschaftlicher Ebene an uns erinnern könnten, da das Gehalt immer den Sätzen entspricht, aber im Gegenteil erhöhen sich die Mehrwertsteuer, die kommunalen und regionalen Zusatzgebühren ...

MTDD: COVID-19 - Wie geht Italien damit um und welchen Rat würdest Du uns allen und insbesondere denen geben, die, wie eingangs erwähnt, die Schwere des Problems zu unterschätzen scheinen?

RC: Wie gesagt, der Staat denkt im Allgemeinen nicht an die öffentliche Gesundheit, weil der Staat die Möglichkeit hat, sich privat zu behandeln, und deshalb die Öffentlichkeit und die Gesundheit der Menschen beeinträchtigt und wenn diese Dinge passieren, werden sie zu Tragödien ... aber für uns. Unser Gesundheitsproblem sind jedoch viele Politiker, die arrogant sind und Experten ignorieren. Ich würde der Öffentlichkeit raten, sich an die Bestimmungen zu halten.

MTDD: Gibt es andere Informationen oder andere Aspekte, die wir nicht behandelt haben und die Du hinzufügen möchtest, bevor wir unser Interview beenden?

RC: Ich glaube nicht ... Vielleicht habe ich zu viel gesagt ...

MTDD: Vielen Dank, Rosalba, für die Teilnahme an diesem Interview und für alle Ratschläge und Informationen, die Du gegeben hast. Gute Arbeit für Dich und Deine Kollegen und lass uns hoffen, dass wir alle gesund bleiben können, indem wir diese Pandemie so schnell wie möglich überwinden.

RC: Danke Dir, dass du mir die Gelegenheit gegeben hast, "unsere" Stimme zu 
Gehör zu bringen. Hoffentlich geht es uns allen gut. 

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Neighborhood and sense of community: Volturara Irpina (AV) - Interview with Edmondo Marra, MD, former Mayor, Author

Neighborhood and sense of community: Volturara Irpina (AV)

Interview with

Edmondo Marra, MD, former Mayor, Author

I could have titled this article of mine and cataloged my interview in various ways, but my instinct immediately suggested me to classify it first under "Neighborhood and sense of community" for a series of reasons that will emerge during this meeting.  Today's guest is, in fact, my friend and fellow author, Dr. Edmondo Marra, whom I am honored to introduce to you.

Dr. Marra is a physician who practices in Volturara Irpina (Province: Avellino) and, in addition to having been Mayor of his hometown, he is - by his own admission - "a fan of historical and genealogical research”, activities that he carries out at the same time and full-time, for that matter, giving his very best in helping his fellow citizens, the majority of whom respect, admire and love him.

I shall always be grateful to Edmondo for letting me know the story of a branch of my family, that is, the Pennetti(s), who would otherwise have remained almost unknown to me and for having written the beautiful Preface to my autobiographical-historical-genealogical novel Missing Puzzles.

I am very happy, therefore, to host him today here in my Blog and Virtual Cultural Salon.

MTDD: Welcome, Edmondo, and thank you for taking the time for our interview.

EM: It is a pleasure to talk to you, so I found the time easily. Culture is a spring that is overlooked, but it serves to grow and motivate us. You spend a lot of time of your day writing and meditating and I am happy to have known you and to be your friend.

MTDD: I thank you.  Edmondo, I have introduced you by briefly listing your titles and your activities, but I would be pleased if you could elaborate everything and present  yourself personally to our readers in the way you prefer and share whatever information you wish to. Who is Edmondo Marra?

EM: I am 69 years old; I have been practicing the profession as a family doctor for 44 years in my hometown, Volturara Irpina (Province: Avellino) and together with the care of the body of my fellow citizens, I have been dedicating myself to research in archives and libraries, because only by knowing the past you can find the solution to the many problems of today.  We live in Southern Italy, in Irpinia, with towns with a strong emigration of arms and minds and finding livability and work solutions would be a great brake on the desertification of our areas.  I like politics as a source of ideals and planning, and for years I have been interested in the issues of my hometown which bases its economy on agriculture, on cattle breeding and on the collection of chestnuts, which are really of excellent quality.  A normal life also dedicated to sport (local football coach in the past until the beginning of the second millennium) and physical activity (manual work in my small country house).  In a town with no historical memory, I have tried to bring to light events and characters from the past that deserve praise and attention and which until now were covered by a blanket of fog and forgetfulness.  I have been married for 35 years and I am the father of one boy and two girls.

MTDD: Let's talk for a moment about Edmondo, the Physician. Tell us about you, beginning with your studies ... and up to your practice ...

EM: I graduated at "La Sapienza" University of Rome in 1976.  I wanted to become an orthopedist, but the story of life and love for my hometown brought me back to the South and I have been practicing the medical profession as a general practitioner (GP) treating entire generations of Volturaresi.  Today I am on the verge of retirement and I believe I will spend my old age sifting through the various provincial and regional archives in search of other documents.  I've always liked to understand the why of things, going to the source.

MTDD: There was a time in your life when the activity as a physician that always kept you - as it still does - particularly busy seemed not to be enough for you anymore and you felt the need to further help your hometown by dedicating yourself to politics.  You ran for office and were elected Mayor.  Where did this need come from?  What additional help were you able to give, through this very assignment, to your community and with what results?

EM: Irpinia is a beautiful but poor province.  Those who wish to grow professionally and  socially go away.  Volturara Irpina is one of the poorest towns in the province, in the hands of a political class still of a feudal character, with recommendations and nepotisms that leave little room for meritocracy.  I engaged in politics to try and improve the social and working conditions of my countrymen and bring the town to progress.  Without strong provincial representatives and without empty promises, I had the pleasure of being elected in 2001 and re-elected in 2006 for a second term.  The results of my efforts are in my heart, but they did not enable the town to make the leap in quality as I would have expected: I opened the municipal library; I improved internet, speeding it up with ADSL; I had all the monuments restored; I methaneised my hometown; I removed the pre-earthquakes of the post-earthquake of the 1980s that contained asbestos and I put many families in public housing that had been unfinished for decades (one of the tragedies of Italy is the excessive bureaucracy); I tried to complete the after-earthquake private reconstruction and many other things, but in the end the town remained with its ancestral problems and, also thanks to the chestnut crisis that occurred after the end of my two mandates, due to a Chinese fly, the economic and livability improvement did not take place, and the emigration of young people continued as it still does to this day.  On the other hand, there was a climate of social equality, individual freedom, love for the past and for its history that no one knew and that halo of mystery and legends that the town has through oral transmission has grown the fireplaces during the winter which is very harsh here, since we are 700 m. (2296.59 ft) above sea level, in a town full of fog and often of morning frosts.

MTDD: What else has added your political experience to your personal, professional and social life?

EM: I have socialist ideas, in a nation where socialists take 0.05% and politics changes constantly with populisms and sovereignties well addressed by the mass media.  Having done politics has helped me understand problems that I had never faced and whose resolution is the driving force for growth and development.  It is not easy to realize expectations and dreams, faced with bureaucratic and party-political barriers, but trying gives an emotion that makes you feel good and pushes you forward.

MTDD: When was your passion for historical and genealogical research born and why do you find it so interesting and stimulating?

EM: It was born at the end of the second millennium. A provincial historian, Edoardo Spagnuolo, gave me a book on the Volturara revolt of April 7th, 1861 against the unification of Italy.  It resonated so much with me that I saw the protagonists in front of me with their names and their stories and I decided to understand everything about those days.  I saw that the notions inculcated in me at school were not complete and that I had to understand how it went in those days and if my ancestors were in favor of Garibaldi or Francesco II, and I began to study this topic.  Over time, I expanded my research and went to other historical periods that had affected my town, putting effort into it, rewarded by a growing enthusiasm that made me feel good.  I photographed all the notarial deeds of my town from 1500 to 1750 and learned to read them, cataloging them.  I scanned thousands of documents which I then transferred to excel.  I made the family tree of all citizens (4000 people) with kinship connections between people with the same surname and I published them on Amazon.  A titanic feat that brought me back to the town  400-500 years ago.  It was also interesting to come across the collection of news on the plague of 1656, which killed about 600 people out of 1000 with the names of the dead being registered day by day (source to understand the origin of the surnames).

MTDD: I've never been to Volturara Irpina.  I have seen, however, photos of it and understood that it must be a wonderful place with a truly enviable position: Can you describe it and tell us if and how this town has changed over time?

EM: Volturara Irpina is a small town of (currently) about 3,200 inhabitants with a large migratory footprint in the last decade (about 1000 people have left).  It is the third wave of migration after that of the late 1800s and that of the 1950s and 1960s.  Closed in a heart-shaped valley (green heart of Irpinia), it is located from 700 meters (2296.59 ft) above sea level of the village at 1,800 meters (5905.512 ft) of Mount Terminio, the highest peak in Irpinia.  In winter, a lake is formed in the plain, called Piana del Dragone (Dragon’s Plain), due to the water that flows down from the mountain, which dries up in summer.  Volturara water flows into the belly of the earth and reaches three southern regions giving drinks to about 5 million inhabitants scattered between Campania, Puglia and Basilicata.  It is an isolated town with its own culture and peasant cuisine that sees dairy products, cheeses, the Quarantine bean and potatoes excel.  There is no shortage of corn.  Thousands of cows and sheep graze on the Dragon’s Plain in the summer, producing milk and its derivatives of a wonderful taste.  It is a peasant land, permeated with legends and mysteries that make it unique and mysterious.  The village is surmounted by a hill on which stands a Lombard castle, a bit in ruins (the only regret of my office as a Mayor is not having been able to restore it) called the castle of San Michele.

MTDD: Which are the families that marked the history of Volturara Irpina and how did they do so?

EM: The families of Volturara that have marked and determined the history of Volturara are the Masucci and the Pennetti, your direct ancestors.  The Masucci have managed the town administratively for the past 200 years, but the culture has always been in the Pennetti dna who have had writers, historians, doctors, lawyers and libertarians.  Above all, Vincenzo Pennetti, the father of your grandmother who at 30 years of age became a university professor in Naples and founder of some Irpinia newspapers.  Friend of Neapolitan poets and writers, such as Salvatore Di Giacomo and others, he could have given much to the country and to Irpinia, had he not died at the age of 33 from a sudden illness in an era without antibiotics, depriving Campania of one of its best children.  Costume flogger, with the scalpel psudomino he hammered the deviated and deviant political and cultural behaviors of the late 1800s.

MTDD: Which were the major events that took place in Volturara Irpina over the centuries and that marked its history in an indelible way revolutionizing the course of it?

EM: Despite being a small town, Volturara has participated in the provincial and regional historical events since 218 BC., the year of its foundation by Carthaginian soldiers who, tired of the Punic War II, took refuge in this forgotten valley.  The etymology of the name could derive from vultur and ara, the 'vulture refuge', which the valley was full of until the early 1900s.
Unfortunately, the documents of the many events that saw Volturara as protagonist are missing.  Those we have been able to read begin in 1154 with the catalog of barons of the Norman age, from which we know that he sent soldiers in the first Crusade of 1196, which in 1528 was destroyed by the Lansquenets sent against Baron Giacomo Antonio della Marra, who sided against the King, who in 1799 played a role in the Neapolitan Republic, so much so that they sent an army to destroy it, having sided with the French Jacobins and having killed a commissioner with his soldiers sent to keep calm. They failed because the army was called back at the last moment to face the enemy who was invading Avellino.  On that occasion he had the front page of the Monitore napoletano, the government newspaper. In 1809 the brigand Laurenziello attacked it to avenge his lieutenant Aniello Rinaldi killed by the soldiers, with the intention of destroying it, but was compelled to flee due to the people armed with rifles, hoes and pitchforks. On April 7th, 1861 there was a popular revolt against the Piedmontese with all the armed people who forced all notables who were against the Bourbons to flee.  It lasted one day because the army arrived on the 8th with 1000 men killing and injuring many. Most of the population fled to the mountains, a recurring refuge against wars and enemy invasions.
In 1936 it hosted the Italian army under the command of the King and Mussolini for the great maneuvers in the Plain of the Dragon. 65,000 people came and Volturara had worldwide echo. In 1943 it was bombed by the Americans, due to the presence of Germans with fighter planes on the plain, which caused about sixty civilian deaths. In 1980 it was brought to its knees by the earthquake that hit Irpinia and Basilicata.

MTDD: The books you have written are many and, therefore, it is impossible to mention them all in one interview.  In this, however, I would like to deal with some issues that you have addressed, starting with the "Brigandage".  What can you tell us about it and, in your opinion, are there any historical links and commonalities between brigandage and organized crime as we know it, and if so, what are they?

EM: The Volturara brigandage and banditry that have seen famous protagonists have the same origin.  It all stems from the heeling of soldiers after a lost war.  It happened in 1806, 1860 and again in 1945.  Tired, disoriented, poor, in a context of political instability, young people who have returned from the war committed criminal acts with thefts and murders that over time were severely punished by the state.  It happened with the Rinaldi brothers in 1809, with Ferdinando Candela, called Pagliuchella in 1861 and again in 1946 with Vito Nardiello, a bandit famous at the time throughout Italy.  They were characters without political color, determined and unscrupulous, who over time were reduced to impotence.  The first killed in 1809, the second in a raid in 1862 and the third arrested after 13 years of hiding and forced to prison until 1983, with seven life sentences in his criminal record.   The political significance is undoubtedly in the three episodes, but it is marginal, affecting other people who manifestly or in subtle way struggled in the name of their ideals.  Ultimately brigandage is a kind of banditry, which always existed in our areas and in some historical circumstances has taken its name.

MTDD: Maledetto Garibaldi e la sua Italia: pagliuchella (Curse Garibaldi and his Italy: pagliuchella) is one of your publications.  Its provocative title leads us all to a profound reflection and also to ask ourselves questions about our history and our national unity.  In the history books, Garibaldi is always presented as "the hero of the two worlds", as one of the greatest figures of the Italian Risorgimento.  How and why do we get from this extremely positive view of him to the one that considers his work 'a curse'?  Would it have been better if this unity of Italy had never taken place?  Can you, please, explain this to us?

EM: History is not based on the search for justice, it is a succession of events that are remembered in retrospect to understand the path of man.  The Lombards came and mixed with the autochthonous, then the Normans arrived and the same thing happened.  This went on for many centuries until the unification of Italy.  We can discuss whether an invasion or annexation was positive or negative, but there is no going back.  Today Italy is there, it is one and indivisible, and we are all proud of it.  It could have been otherwise we would have accepted it as we accepted wars and masters.  Today we must look ahead and also try to overcome national limits for a strong Europe and a herald of progress.
The provocative title of my book ultimately refers only to a peasant girl who emigrates to America and who curses Garibaldi because he stole her everyday life, which was a simple one, close to nature. The book recalls the period of Unity while keeping distance from emotional participation.  It explains the reasons for both sides without judging who is right or who is wrong.  In history, whoever takes the lead and dictates his belief through his men who exalt the exploits of their heroes and speak ill of defeated enemies, delegitimizing them, wins the story. Critical analysis can be done after decades, but it does not change the course of events.

MTDD: Thanks, Edmondo, for all the information you provided.  There is much more to be said  about your publications and many other topics to be explored, especially historical ones, which due to our limited time we are forced to postpone.  I will be happy to host you for another interview and continue this interesting conversation by considering the many aspects that we have not been able to examine today.
While waiting for the next interview, how can those who are following us and/or will follow us contact you and where can they buy your publications?

EM: My books are all found on Amazon. ( In recent years I have published them in Irpinia with local publishers but the readers are few and the costs are enormous. There is no profit on Amazon, but at least the expenses for further research are recovered.  It is a work of passion, with no economic return.  Another aspect that encouraged me to publish on the internet is that even after I am gone, someone will be able to find the history of our country online and will remember a family doctor who spent years and years to find documents and news.

MTDD: Thanks again, Edmondo. It was a great pleasure and honor to have you as my guest.

EM: You were very kind to allow me to be able to talk about my hometown and my hobbies.  I did it with real pleasure because I believe that culture is the spring to improve ourselves as well as the society we live in.  These last 70 years have changed a reality that has been walking slowly for many centuries, making a world of ignorance and fears disappear, but also of values ​that are being lost.  I hope that progress has not regressed and that man continues his path in the search for the common good and social equality, without wars, without pollution and with respect for the planet that hosts us, our Mother Earth.

Best regards, Edmondo Marra