Village people used to call the big landowners “nobles”, however in a figurative sense; among the criteria that contributed to the higher social status of people there were wealth, education, non-manual work, and an ancient family name, which basically meant a long-term belonging to Locorotondo’s elite.

The class of “artisans” also had its hierarchy: the groups with a higher status were called “li artiri”, since their craft was considered an art, and they included tailors, barbers, cobblers, carpenters. Then came the stonecutters “a razze de polvere” [the men full of dust], who were called this way because of the limestone dust covering them when they worked. Sculptors were considered more positively, as theirs was a creative job.

Apprenticeship played an important part in the youth of men and women belonging to the class of artisans; every boy became an apprentice and not necessarily at his father’s workshop. Actually, sometimes parents had their children learn a different craft, like that of a tailor, for example, in the pursuit of improving their social standing thanks to a more prestigious craft.

After primary school also girls became apprentices under a seamstress or embroiderer, although their families expected them to quit their jobs once they got married.

The most significant quality of this apprenticeship was given by the fact that these young people were educated and trained by two kinds of persons: their parents, with whom they lived, and their masters, with whom they worked and spent most of the day.

Artisans usually describe their former masters as strict and demanding, able to convey skills and especially respect for the craft.






This proverb reflects in a figurative manner the division of tasks and, thus, of the respective roles men and women were meant to have in domestic life. Interpreting it literally, one would considerably reduce the socio-cultural scope of the saying. In fact, analysing the rural context one learns how the tasks performed by women were not limited to the family’s home. In farming, all activities used to be split between the sexes, for example picking olives and fruits was done by women, whereas men had to carry them, and men were also those who took care of pruning, while collecting the waste twigs and branches that couldn’t be used to make fire for cooking  was another of the women’s tasks. So, the shovel and the spoon do not just literally represent farming and housework, but through these two implements (with an almost identical shape, but a very different use) the saying enhances the complementarity of the roles of the two sexes.


This complementarity is the result of an adaptation strategy adopted in the district of Locorotondo to abide by the contract of emphyteusis. In fact, it required men and women to optimise their work so as to be able to turn the land into vineyards within a few years.