is the third of five children. His father was a saddler and made
pack-saddles, collars, harnesses and also what was needed for the
beasts of burden and draught animals used by the peasants. He shared
the ups and downs of the peasants and the hard life of the fields,
the difficulties, the hardships. But also the values of friendship,
solidarity, and the sense of the word of honour.
Therefore, more than ideological convictions, he accepted the
assignment as councillor in the local communist administration that
governed Venosa in the difficult post-war years.
Before the war, Carmine’s father had an equine butcher shop that he
later rented. From the renter he took raw hides and meat as payment of
the rent. He used the hides in his saddler’s shop while the meat was
boiled and conserved in gelatin and stored in clay jars: it was a
precious reserve of food for his family, to consume with prudence.
During the fascist regime, Carmine had been, like all the boys, a
Figlio della Lupa ("Son of the She-wolf”). In front of his
grandfather’s house he observed the young people in paramilitary
He, however, was not a fan of discipline, nor the military life, nor
the war. He observed the soldiers lodged in the castle or the unit of
cavalry encamped near the Norman Fountain with little interest. He
felt he was a free spirit.
One day the family had news about one of his uncles, captured by the
British and sent in a POW camp in India. His relatives spoke about him
with much worry.
Another day Carmine found out that near Venosa, at
the great farm of the Briscese family - homonymous but not relatives
-, there had been British prisoners of war taken. He wanted to go to
Certainly, they were odd-looking in their shorts, but they didn’t seem
to be bad people, they were even kind, offering him chewing gum.
Instead, he had more fear of the Germans.
Someone said a large detachment of German troops was camped in the
Pantano (the Marsh), between
Venosa and Palazzo San Gervasio. And so, they suddenly came into town:
with sidecars, with their impeccable uniforms. They went to the City
Hall to announce publicly: anyone that had weapons in house, had to
deliver in twenty-four hours.
If not, the punishment was execution.
His father too, reluctantly, had to separate himself from his beloved
double-barrelled gun. At night there was a mandatory blackout and one
evening, when his mother forgot to close the window curtains, the
entire family was almost arrested for
collaboration with the enemy.
Another time, he happened to be a bystander to an aerial duel while he
was in Piazza Municipio.
A German cargo plane flew in the sky when it met a formation of six
American fighters with double fuselage (P-38),
flying at low altitude along a small valley.
Two of the fighters split the formation.
After each of them reached the sides of the German aircraft, they
swung their wings towards the cargo plane, perhaps hoping for a
surrender; then, they fired long machine-gun bursts at the undefended