Drying and fermentation phase
La macerazione e l’essiccazione
Once tabacco was brought home, it was put in 'masera' to fermentare. The leaves were piled neatly on the floor, tied with the stem pointing in the same direction. Large and small leaves were divided. Once they became the 'typical' yellow color each leaf had to be controlled to make sure that excess heat didn't create mold. There weren't spaces reserved exclusively for the fermentation stage, every room, attic and corner of the house was dedicated to the tabacco, its odor penetrated everything.
Drying was typically done in the attics. Leaves were hung, two or three at a time, on 'smussi'- long pieces of wood stacked like racks, leaf bundles of leaves were attached with small wooden wedges, or nails, inserted into the frames. The 'smussi' became a framework that allowed air to circulate. When the coloration turned from yellow to brown the drying was finished.
When tobacco had finished drying it was 'messo in banca'. It took two people to handle each end of the drying rack rods 'i smussi', they would turn it with a rotary movement, allowing leaves to fall in piles on the ground. It was best to do this on a rainy day, as the humidity prevented leaves from rotting.
“All the work done up in the hills, first the planting then the plants to tend to and defend; then everybody in one room, bend over.
"It was the work of tobacco, the sooner it was planted, the plants came after we deviated it, we attacked it in mera as we say. All in a pile in a room folded up with the sticks up and all piled up and every now and then he looked, because if it did not rot with the bóie, when it heats up and it came like ... And then when it was taken out and sorted, the it spread out in the field or was attacked, the one on the fields was dried up before " (Giuseppe C., Valstagna, 1999.)
"It had to be put 'in masera' to age, it turned yellow then dried in piles, it turned from fresh green to yellow in a week when kept in a closed room. Next we separated the leaves, yellow to one part, green back again to age" (Bruno C. Valstagna 1999)