Assunta’s shop

The administrative independence of San Rufino’s Church and its competences were guaranteed by the active contributions of the priests, who over the decades were in charge of the management of the parish and resided in the Rectory. In addition, the presence of the farmer Giovanni Biglieri (1902-1992) and his wife Assunta (1904-2003), who for many years, with their tireless work, had a fundamental role not only in the development of a highly functional microcosm linked to the religious circle, but also in the traditional rural and agrarian lifestyle.

The two farmers worked on the lands belonging to the parish and took care of the priest’s allotment and orchard, as they were the main helpers. In 1923, the couple also took care of their stable and the animals in their courtyard. Furthermore they powered their own home and the Rectory through a rudimental hydroelectric plant, which was probably one of the first to be installed in Borbera Valley (Val Borbera) in 1923. For a long time, Assunta’s shop, which was located in one of the buildings opposite the church, provided for the needs of five villages: Canarie, Cerendero, Gordena, Gorreto and Piandeiberci.

Ruderi cascina They supplied the villagers with various goods: food and groceries, tobacco, stationaries and haberdashery. The shop was especially renowned for having a confectionery section, always stocked with assorted sweets, cakes and chewing gum, which were much sought after by all the children who attended the parish. Many goods, such as pasta, rice and sugar were not sold in packets, but by weight and were kept in large paper or jute bags. Sweets were even sold individually, so that children and teenagers could buy just a few with the little pocket money given to them by their family. During the post-war years, when everything (including money) was scarce, even cigarettes were sold individually in Cerendero, since it was often the case that customers could not afford an entire packet.

Quite often, an exchange of goods took place in the shop, rather than an actual purchase. It was regarded as a trade of farming goods that Assunta accepted as payment in order to meet costumer’s needs halfway. The shop also remained open on Sundays and bank holidays. In such occasions, after religious celebrations took place, the men of the village gathered together in a small room in the shop and played cards or Morra. Like many other decent and upstanding inhabitants of the valley, Assunta, who was humble and energetic, is still alive in the memories of those who lived in Cerendero during that time. This now seems like a long time ago, given that things have drastically changed over the years, at least in the eyes of the older generation.

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