Gardeners Wanted . . Apply Within

May 27, 2008 / Uncategorized
Caserta
Forget for a second that the magnificent Reggia di Caserta (Caserta Palace) was the largest building constructed in the 18th century in Europe. Or that Charles VII who built it never lived in it a day. (A note on the Reggia itself coming soon!)

Think instead for a moment about its parco (park, or gardens), about 2 miles long, large waterworks and fountains everywhere, avenues of centenary holm oaks, Mediterranean umbrella pines, and towering cypress throughout. This incredibly well tended parco, originally even more gargantuan, is only “just” enormous at its current 300 acres.

I was visiting the park with a friend, now a successful landscape architect in California, who was anxious to see the gardens here. As we walked through an oak forest we came upon a group of six men cutting away the underbrush. Without hesitating my friend went over and introduced herself as a fellow giardiniere (gardener). They were as happy to take a break as we were to chat, so we asked the capo (literally “head”) how many gardeners worked in the park.

“Indovina”, (take a guess), he chuckled.

My friend thought about it for a moment and guessed eighty. The man looked at his companions, smiled, and answered sheepishly, “Siamo solo in otto. Due si occupano del prato, e noi facciamo tutto il resto.” (There are only eight of us: two people take care of the lawns and we do all the rest.)

Our jaws dropped. He continued “It’s hard work but we’ve been here all our working lives so we have a tremendous amount of knowledge. We hope that younger men will be hired soon so that they can work with us for a few years and learn from our experience before we retire.”

Well earned when the day comes, gents, simply astonishing. Hats off to all 8 of them.

Barbara Goldfield

by Barbara Goldfield

Owner of “Savour The Sannio”, www.savourthesannio.com, a travel consultancy for central and southern Italy.

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