How I became a bandit by Carmine Crocco


On the 27th of March 1889 in St. Stefano’s bathroom, where I serve my term of imprisonment, I begin to write my memories; by reading this test, do not expect things that make the human soul be joyful, but rather that make him feel sad and horrified.
My country, called Rionero in Vulture, is located in the district of Melfi, in Basilicata, Italy, and is on the slope of a hill to the east of a mountain named Monticchio. The entire territory is covered with vineyards, olive groves, vegetables, chestnut trees, fields, forests and pastures, full of wonderful vegetation. According to some people, its population is made of 12,000 inhabitants among those there is the real Lucania prototype, mentioned by Telemachus. To the south of this beautiful country, set a few meters away from the body of the country itself, there are about twenty houses of a single floor, placed along the slope of a bank whose height varies between 25 and 50 meters. Each of these houses was inhabited by a family of poor farmers and cultivators, who working hard kept misery and hunger away. However, among those people there were the shoemaker, who was a secret spy of the Bourbon police, the stone-cutter, some decurions, the gossip, the tailor and the school teacher, for those who could pay for him.
Those families were formed by 200 inhabitants, more or less; if we add to these people a hundred animals, among those there were sheeps, goats, oxes, pigs and donkeys, which are part of the poor, we will have the amount of five hundred animated beings, all inhabitants of those smoked hovels.
Yet, in that place there were glorious, old and mutilated veterans of Napoleon, covered with wounds that they had got in Spain, Prussia, Austria, and against the Cossacks of the priest; there were a lot of men who had endured the Bourbon, Republican, Murattian, Bonapartist turpitudes and other misfortunes. There were respectable old ladies, who were still virgin and had not given in to the French, Jacobin and Spanish filths, during the fishy days when men protected themselves thanks to their own strengths, since governments, while waiting for fighting against each other, shot helpless men as they need their blood, imprisoned innocent people as they need money, as they need revenge. In the long winter evenings, those old men told each other the wonderful stories of their turbulent lives, of the battles they won, of the valuable actions they had made, of the blood that flowed along the battlefields full of dead and wounded people, which toughened our souls because of our warlike and bellicose nature.
In one of those houses that I mentioned above, the first Sunday of June 1830 I was born from Francesco Crocco Donatelli and Maria Gera from Santo Mauro.
My mother married in 1824 and from this year up to 1836 when I began to remember events, my mother gave birth to five children, named Donato, Carmine, who is me, Rosina, Antonio, and Marco; the sixth was to come into the world, but God was envious of our happiness and began to scourge us. Now I want to tell about the happiness of a poor family.

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