Associations of Torricella

Clubs and associations over the course of the years

the members of the “House of Conversation” -1917

& The Bellini Club – 1922

by Antonio Piccoli

(Torricella, June 2005)

I had these two photos showing groups of people, one from 1917 with the members of the “House of Conversation” grouped in front of Gilberto Porreca’s premises and the second from 1922 of the “Bellini Club” which shows a group of men photographed at Sant’Antonio’s in the open countryside.

I wanted to try and put names to the faces as these were unknown to me and so I tried speaking to as many elderly people as possible. Very slowly, with cross-checking, we managed to recognise many of the men, whose names resounded even in my ears because I had sometimes heard tell of them. Certainly they were the most well-known, or else those who had lived the longest. Of course 80 years have gone by and people who can remember that far back are beginning to be few and far between.

It is a pity that this research was only begun recently, maybe even 5 years ago the work would have been much easier. Soon there will not be anyone who remembers those years.

To take a journey back in time one should first go and read the two articles published in the Amici di Torricella newsletters, that of Ida Fadelli entitled “In Nineteen-Nineteen” (Italian Version) and that of Gianni Materazzo entitled “The Village Blackbird” (Italian Version). If you go to the old website and click on “Amici di Torricella”(Italian Version) you can see lots of articles from the Newsletter, published between 1988 and 1994, many also translated into English, amongst which are the two mentioned above, in which the life of those days is clearly depicted.

Then Torricella had about 6,000 inhabitants, there were many fabric shops, hardware stores, 4 banks including a private one, the Agrarian Institution, run by two well-to-do Torricellans. Today the village is very small in comparison with 100 years ago[1]. It used to be the commercial centre for the whole area. People would come to Torricella from Pizzoferrato, Gamberale, Montenero, Colledimacine, Gessopalena and other villages round about, both to buy retail and to buy wholesale. At Torricella there were the Magistrate’s Court, the Prison, the Carabinieri Headquarters, Middle Schools, the Notary Public, the Pharmacy and even the manager of Electric Energy for Torricella and the surrounding villages, the Olive-Press and the Flour-Mill, just as in a large agricultural commercial centre.

And it would appear that there was also a strong way of life with cultural Associations. There were two clubs used in leisure time, the members of the first, the “House of Conversation”, belonged to the more well-off middle classes, formed of important people, those with degrees and the richer merchants.

Their headquarters, according to some, was in the premises of the present day Snack Bar, whilst according to others, such as Mrs. Ida Fadelli, the headquarters must have been below her own house, which, from the description she gives, must have been the Persichetti house, thus facing the Snack Bar. Actually the picture of the group photographed in 1917 was taken a little above the Persichetti house, in front of the food shop that used to belong to Gilberto Porreca and thus was close to the Social Headquarters.

In the Snack Bar premises, instead, there was the Calzone shop [trousers UK; pants USA], in those days it was perhaps the largest shop in all Torricella. It sold everything, but especially fabrics.

Maybe, however, both opinions are correct because since then there has been “the revolution” of 1919, described in Gianni Materazzi’s article. It happened on the crest of the wave of the October Revolution and the Bolshevik’s deeds – carried out by some of the veterans of the 1915-1918 war, together with poor famished peasants. These “revolutionaries” caused great chaos and confusion, so much so that reinforcements had to called in both from Casoli and from Lama in order to suppress the uprising. Amongst other things they attacked all the shops in Torricella and it was the Calzone shop that came off the worst, so that, having had all its goods destroyed or stolen, it never re-opened again. So it might be that after these regrettable incidents, the Club transferred to the building opposite, with its larger, more comfortable premises.

The other club was called the “Bellini Club” and its members were tradesmen and craftsmen, most of whom believed in Socialism. Their headquarters was on the ground floor of the premises of the house of “Mastredinate”, the house where Vincenzo Bellini senior was born.

Each club had a small bar, a billiard room and a meeting room, where normally people would play cards.

Actually, prior to 1922 the “Bellini Club” had been called the “Remembrance Club”, but since this referred to the Risorgimento[2] movement, in order to avoid problems with the Fascists, the name was changed to the less provocative “Bellini Club”.

There were 10 founder members of the “Bellini Club”; of these we recall Antonio Porreca, originator of the Pineta, Artidoro De Marinis, Peppino de la Rumana, Peppino di Ciufelle, Luigi Piccone de la Penna, Peppino Manzi and Quirino De Laurentiis.

Both clubs were exclusive and one had to be accepted to become a member. Women only entered on organised Feast Days, at Christmas, or on other special occasions.

The group photos of these two clubs, but especially that of the “House of Conversation”, give the picture that for some Torricellans life was rather comfortable. It is sufficient to look at how they are dressed to understand their level of prosperity.

The members of the “Bellini Club” are also elegant and well-dressed in their own way; their picture was taken on the occasion of a country holiday, the place was probably the Shooting Range.

According to some, the photo of the men of the “House of Conversation” was taken on the occasion of some officers and under-officers of the Italian Army returning home on leave.

[1} Present Population is about 1,500.

[2] Risorgimento – movement which began in the early 19th Century and led to the proclamation of the Kingdom of Italy (1861), and eventually to unification (1871).


Translation courtesy of Marion Apley Porreca


Colonello = Colonel

Family nickname – ciufielle.

Don Vincenzino – Worked in the Don Roberto Porreca¹s shop.

Don Antonio Aspromonte – He married Donna Leonilde and bought the fabric shop previously occupied by De Stefanis.

Nicola Porreca di ciufielle – Had a hardware shop where Il Grottino Bar now stands.

Don Michele Persichetti – Military officer, surgeon, president of the Province of Chieti.

Don Gilberto Porreca – Parish priest of Torricella.

Professor Don Vincenzo Di Paola, teacher of Giovanni Pascoli (1855-1912), one of Italy¹s most acclaimed poets.


Banner at lower right: “Torricella Peligna 20 MAGGIO 1917” 

Circa 1920


Photo of a group men from Torricella belonging to the House of Conversation Club.

We can recognise: the man seated on the left is Antonio Porreca Aspromonte called “paparascianne”, the third person standing above paparascianne is Don Michele Persichetti, the 5th is Don Alessandro Madonna, the 11th, seated to the right, is Antonio Teti, (di fidiriche).


Album di Maretta Manzi


Fontaniere comunale = Town plumber.

Sarto = Tailor.

Negozio per calzolai = Shoe shop.

Padre di Antonio = Father of Antonio Piccoli.

Macelleria = Butcher.

Sali e tabacchi = Salt and tobacco shop.

Negozio di vini, cantina = Wine shop & bar.

Orefice = Jeweler.

Geometra, sindaco di Torricella anni 50 = Surveyor and mayor of Torricella in the 1950s.

Family nicknames: minnarello, rusario, ciufelle, mastredinate, penne, rumana, nuario.

Mingo = Short for Domenico.



Festa degli Alpini

Feast of the Alpine Guard


Franco Di Paolo, Mariano Di Paolo, Camillo Di Paolo di centpinsieri, Vincenzo Teti di aspere, Nicola D’Ulisse di mischiarielle


Album: Maria D’Ulisse 


Alpine Guard Feast


Nicola Di Loreto, Rocco Piccoli con la due botte*, Domenico Piccone, Marziale D’Amico, Francesco Antrilli , Franchino Di Luzio, Camillo Di Paolo, Franchino Di Paolo, Nicola D’Ulisse di miscarielle, Barchiesi, Guido Carapella, Domenico Evangelista, Nicola Di Paolo di siddere, Carmine Turchi di lu sorde, Gaetano Di Pentima di cecche.


A small accordion with only two bass buttons.  It was often used to play folk songs and the “saltarello”, a typical Abruzzese dance.



Alpine Guard Feast

In the presence of Biagio Rossi (in the center of the photo), a distinguished, disabled veteran from Colledimacine, and the Honorary Mr. Pennetta.


Album:  Pietro Antrilli 

2006 – The Alpine Guard Association together with the Pegaso Association

Pegaso is a volunteer association based in Altino (Chieti) with a chapter in Torricella.  Many members of the Alpine Guard and Avis also belong to Pegaso.  They provide civilian assistance and protection.  They also operate an ambulance taking those in need to the hospital in Casoli.  In the morning they run a shuttle service taking the elderly to the medical clinic in the Sant’Antonio district of Torricella, a bit of a distance from the center of town.  


Album:  Sezione Alpini di Torricella (Alpine Guard Association of Torricela)