Benvenuto A Italia
Our Italian adventure began a new with the city of Commachio. The city was very small and resembled Venice because of the reason of having canals throughout the city. As well as many stone bridges one of them being the famous Trepponti or otherwise known as three bridges.
Located in the Po delta of the river Po. It is a small town with one main source of income and commerce, Anguillas. Which in Italian means eels. The main source of commerce and one of the most valuable resources that Commachio had to offer, and still to this day is well known for this salty pickled delight.
Our tour started on a boat where it took us around the delta and to the houses where the men who fished for these eels lived and worked. Their houses where small elite and designed to house around 4 to 5 men who would spend their nights waiting for the eels to be caught within their nets and trap systems they had set. The life of an eel man was not a rather glamorous one, neither was for the women of the village. The eels once caught in these giant woven baskets of sorts would then be taken by boat into the factory la Manifattura dei Marinati, where they would be prepped and skewered to be roasted and or pickled. Men fished the eels and the women cooked them, sounds a lot like modern day to me where men worked and women would cook but it was a fair trade off in my opinion.
The eels would be roasted on giant spits in front of huge ovens that lined the walls of the factory. The trick to knowing when they were done was an apple. An apple was placed next to the flames when the half of the Apple was cooked they would rotate the spit and the apple and once the apple was fully roasted they were ready. The whole process was done is mass and the factory was the sole producer and distributor of these eels for all of Italy.
My curiosity was peeked when I discovered this town and this factory had been once the set for an old classic movie that starred the iconic and legendary Sofia Loren. La Donna Del Fiume was the name of the film which translates into The Lady of the River. The story revolved around Nives working in the factory cooking the eels and falling in love with a man named Gino who was a eel fisher with a bad reputation. All in all it was a cult classic in the Italian cinema as well as a controversial one. It showed the life of a fishermen working the Po river delta and the women's role in making the eels. Just the fact that I could have been standing in the same room as history was being filmed excited me.
I took several pictures including some with the posters they had of Sofia holding up the cans of marinated eels, and one of me pretending to cook them just like Nives did in the film, causally laughing at Ginos attempts to make me jealous. Overall our excursion to this small yet significant city was nothing less than spectacular, I was able to learn about something I would have never known about and I felt like I could have been casted in an Italian cinematic masterpiece, maybe Carlo Ponti would have cast me in the next film except it will be called Il Uomo Del Fiume, the man of the river. Obviously this great film mogul is no longer with us but hey a boy can dream.