Before I even get to the core of this post let me express my appreciation to Emanuela Gasbarroni for tracing the Vastola family on my request. She made the impossible possible. After 33 years I ‘reunited’ with Mario and his older brother Antonio. Once again THANK YOU Ema!
Both, Mario and his older brother Antonio came to pick me up at the main entrance of the camp. It was completely surreal to see them after three decades. Wow! I simply couldn’t stop smiling. Although our conversation was not always clearly understood among each other our body language and the will of getting message across worked just fine. From Latina they took me to a small town of Sabaudia (further south) where Antonio owns his very successful radish farming business. After their parents passed away Antonio inherited the family farm and expanded from three hectares up to 30. Today he employs nearly 150 workers, mainly from India and Romania. The farm? Omg…as far as the eye can see the greenhouses. Pretty gigantic operation and fully automated production, very impressive. My taste for radishes enhanced after this visit. In fact, at some point Antonio pulled one pod out of the ground to show me the quality of this delicious vegetable. You can only guess what happened next?! Yep, I ate it. We were all laughing. The next pod was properly washed. For the last 16 years the Agricola San Donato has been exporting 2-4 truckloads every single day to its distributor in Poland and from there all over the Eastern European clients. During this unexpected ‘show-and-tell’ I also met Paola, the Antonio’s wife. She is fully engaged in the business managing their office affairs.
Few kilometres away a small hamlet San Vito. We stopped there for lunch. Before however, Mario showed me their parents house where back in 85 I had a lunch with the Vastola family and few other workers. Gee…so surreal!
Giuseppe is a family friend, but also the business accountant/consultant to both brothers. He is a very funny and speaks some English too. The lunch menu was way beyond my expertise. Quite elaborate choice of seafood and the pasta with three bottles of white wine to share. After the food shot of Fernet (slightly bitter herbal liqueur) and a delicious tiramisù. After lunch Mario took me to his house where I met his lovely wife Emanuela and his 24 years old son Antonio. The Mario’s farm is slightly smaller (approx. 9 hectare) and his main focus is at the zucchini growing. He employs 25. Slightly smaller operation than his brother’s one, but also successful. During the farm ‘show-and-tell’ there it was. The very same 1976 Fiat tractor I operated back in 1985. And guess what?! Yep, the engine still running. Between visiting the grounds of the camp and spending the precious hours with the Vastola brothers I realized how important their father seńor Vastola to my life was. Many of my good ‘Italian’ memories were connected to his family and how respectfully he treated his workers. Grazie and R.I.P.
I boarded a train at 5:45 PM… I sat down in randomly selected seat to realize how knackered I was.
Antonio, Jacek, Mario (back to the future)
In front of the signor Vastola family house in San Vito, Italy
With Mario and his lovely wife Emanuela and their son Antonio
Antonio and I
Mario and I