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The first significant wave of emmigration began in the last decades of the 1800's. It was the result of many economic and demografic forces: income from tabacco cultivation was insufficient, weather conditions and the impossibility to forecast seasonal factors were a constant danger, plant diseases and the inability to project earnings due to fluctuations in production.. This sense of insecurity left a Family's lived with a constant sense of foreboding. In addition the timber industry, raft transportation, woodworking and other artisianal labor. The economy was unable to sustain a surge in population, (from 3184 in 1853 to 3676 in 1871). Most of the population emigrated to the America: Brazil (Rio Grande do sul), Argentina, Paraguay and some to European countries, in particular France and Switzerland.
Initially men left the valley leaving predominantly women to do agricultural work, especially the cultivation of tabacco. During the summer most of the labor was done by women who were barely able to tend to twelve to fifteen thousand plants. Men worked to maintain the terraces and plowing fields, done mmostly at the beginning of the spring.

“My grandfather used to say:' I worked with the Serbs and with the Croatians in Istria'... I imagined in my childhood fantasies, strange men, big Croats that came from Istria. My father was born in 1899, he went to work with my grandfather in Germany with a fake passport from Valstagna, they wrote he was born in1898 so he could go to work too.”
(Adelina, Valstagna 1999)

Demographic history illustrates a disturbing trend of emigration from 1881 and 1991 with the most signifitive loss of residents at the end of the 1800's and first decades in 1900. Statistics of tabacco cultivation show a inverse reality, industry growth until after the WWII; suggesting that the apex of tabacco production was a desperate attempt to survive despite impossible conditions for the local economy. Data shows how the population decilined significantly betwee 1901 and 1931: many residents had already emmigrated, even if it wasn't official.


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