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The smugglers

The best time of year to make 'i noli', the illeagle trips to sell tabacco, was in the winter when men were home, with no employment. The contraband trafficers were a a team, men with expertise navigating the mountains. 
They would stuff bags with tabacco and pack it under their clothes, women made special sacs to be worn under their garments to make them seem pregnant.


“Back then everyone needed money, they gave us potatoes rather than tabacco because we smoked and had tabacco for our personal use. We'd crush leaves to make snuff, for the nose. We had to be careful of the tax guards, we pretended to crocet and knit when they arrived. Some girls had boyfriends who were part of the 'guardia finanza'. We hated and feared them, whenever anyone arrived there was always suspect that they may be spies. Hiding leaves and separating them to sell as contraband was illeagle too. We would rob leaves before they could be counted and set them to dry. We'd bring the smallest leaves and keep the large ones to sell on the black market. 
“ Our mothers would carry tabacco on their autumn trips to Cismon, up the steep grade to 'Rocca' and on to Feltra, right in front of the military headquarters. They sewed sacks with special pockets for tabacco leaves and wore them like quilted fabric in order to care 3 or 4 kilos. Their mission was two-fold, hide the tabacco and sell it and return with beans, bought with the profit. 
We knew many tricks to outfox the tax guards." (Adelina C., Valstagna, 1999.)

 

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