The effort and tradition of “La Tratta”
An ancient method of fishing now in disuse continues to survive
June 2020, the fight against covid-19, its restrictions and rules, continues. As in the previous article, memories and feelings of when there was no social distance, masks, the diffidence of contagion, and of being infected, come back to mind.
This is one of those stories.
A different dawn
On a July morning a multitude of people poured out on the shore of the Adriatic Sea, calm and silent, of Marotta. Men and women have come not only to admire the imminent dawn, but to witness a hundreds of years old tradition. The sun that can be seen on the horizon is accompanied by the lapping of a boat that has just entered the water with some fishermen on board. We don’t talk much, we just watch those movements as old as simple they are. The boat starts off, without going too far, dragging with it a net which draws a large semicircle on the surface of the water. What are those fishermen doing?
La Tratta, also called Sciabica, is an ancient coastal fishing technique very common until the 1950s on the Italian coast which has origins as old as the stories of fishermen. One end of the net, called “calamento”, was fixed or held on the shore while the other was towed into the sea with the help of a boat. Two teams of men then pulled the net to the shore with the fish trapped inside the “cova” meaning “hatching”. A simple and inexpensive fishing system which however required a lot of effort, sweat and did not always give satisfactory results. The fish obtained was then sold locally or in neighboring areas.
Hand down the tradition
The boat returns to the shore, two different groups of strong fishermen are preparing to pull the two peaks. Little by little the net,initially wide and distant, approaches the shore and the semicircle tightens. With the elderly, youngs and some enterprising children together join the group. Hand to hand guided by the rhythm of the most experienced. Pulling with strength, perseverance but also with discipline. The peaks cannot be left even for a moment or the fish risks running away, making the effort vain. It is the moment when the knowledge and gestures of group fishing are handed down. The effort and tradition of “La tratta” is renewed.
Curious going ever closer to the net, which has now reached the shore, like when you open a teasure to see and evaluate its loot.
A fishing method that survives
A few crabs, some minnows and only a few of considerable size are the result of “La tratta”. Due to the wild exploitation of the seabed, “La tratta” has fallen into disuse due to poor results and strong restrictions and regulations. It is a fishing method that has depleted over time.
Despite this, the Malarupta Cultural Association decided 12 years ago to recall “La festa della Tratta” with the aim of keeping this tradition alive and the memory of Marotta as an original fishing village.
In addition to the re-enactment, the Festa della Tratta is an opportunity to meet with your neighbors, tell old stories while enjoying the typical summer air.
The sun has now risen in the sky so as to feel its burning heat on the skin of the curious. The light breeze brings with it the smell of salt, sunscreen and sea. The beach becomes once again a territory for tourists and bathers.
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