Thursday, July 23, 2009


On this particular day, my father had to make a wood delivery in the town of Tricesimo (in Friuli). He was also of mind to stop there to negotiate some further business, so he asked my mother to go with him. Since his business would keep him there for awhile, he told her that he wanted her to take the carriage and oxen (that came with it) home after he unloaded the wood. Being very confident that she could do that, my mother agreed to go along.
Once in Tricesimo, my father unloaded the wood and a bicycle that he would use to ride back home. He gave my mother specific directions on how to get back home. (My father was not as confident as my mother about these things.) My mother told him not to worry and started the journey back home: two oxen, one carriage, and one middle aged Furlana.
Everything went well until they reached a fork in the road. Stopping the oxen, she thought and thought, trying very hard to remember which fork my father told her to take. She couldn't be quite sure, but she felt very confident that the road to the right was the one to take. Thus, she attempted to guide the oxen to the right. The oxen started to move, not to the right, but toward the road on the left.
Becoming impatient with the two animals, she struck them with her whip and screamed in Furlan, "Volte, Volte stopits demais". (Roughly translated: "Turn, turn you dumb oxen".) Try as she may, she couldn't make the oxen take the road to the right. She even got out of the carriage and tried to lead the oxen to the road on the right. The oxen refused to go that way.
At this point she gave up. She threw up her hands, uttered a prayer, "O Dio Mio, I don't know what to do. I am in your hands now", and let the two beautiful animals go their way.
Believe it or not - the two oxen took her straight home. They knew that the road on the left was the one to take all the time. Either that or they had no confidence in mother's ability to get them home.


Ivano Franco Comelli said...

Thanks Anon. Keep those stories coming.

The photo is of Giovanni Comelli, also known as "Giovan del Losk". He was my paternal Grandfather. In 'La Nostra Costa' I refer to him as the "Contra Bandiera (Against the Flag) Bandit" because he was famous in the Nimis-Friuli Region for smuggling goods to and from Austria and Yugoslavia. It was said that he often crossed over the mountain passes bare-footed. Sempre Avanti could have very well been his motto.

Ivano Franco Comelli said...

The following is an e-mail I received from my cousin Marina who lives in Friuli.

"Ciao Ivano,

quella che ci hai mandato è una foto stupenda! La farò vedere a mia madre e sicuramente sarà emozionata per lo meno quanto lo sono stata io a vedere il mio bisnonno su un simile mezzo di trasporto!

Grazie ancora e mandi!


Roughly translated, she thanks me for posting the foto of her Great-Granfather. This foto reminded her of the time that she rode in a similar ox-drawn carriage with her parents (Anna Maria and Cesare) to go see "Giovan del Losk". ivn0

Canadian Furlan said...

Ivano "Mio Caro Amico Furlan"
Excellent photo and story. The Furlans knew how to tell a story. It is the corner stone of their culture! As you know they spent hours upon hours around the Fogolar which was situated in the centre of their kitchen where the family would meet for breakfast, lunch, dinner and prior to bed time. The Contro Banda was very real in all of Italia but most prominant in the North because of the close proximity to Yugoslavia, Slovenia, Austria etc. My Nonno Fazio born in 1888 used to tell me stories when he was growing up, having to go to work in Austria when he was 9 yrs old feeding the miners water. He also told me of the time he first saw a car in 1908. Something we now take for granted but for my Nonno who was a very basic person he explained his experience as if he saw a UFO. Excellent Ivano. "Sempre Avanti" we must all follow

Ciao e Mandi

IVANO said...

Thanks Doriano. There are many stories out there. Unfortunately, unlike Anon (and yourself), few bother to write them down for others to enjoy.

Anon's story reminds me of one of Yogi Berra's famous saying. Yogi a Hall of Fame Catcher for the New York Yankess of the 1950s and now appearing in Aflax TV Commercials with that 'Duck', once said: "If you come to a fork in the road, take it." Fortunately for Anon's mom the Oxen did just that. ivn0

RENO said...


Just wanted to let you know that the story on the oxen , and the picture were absoultely super great!!!!


Ivano, I cannot believe your Grandfather 's picture! That is the way I remember him when I was young in Italy. Did you look at his hat? The carriage with the the oxes fits the story perfectly! Also,I just saw Lou Moro's 4th of July picture (on your 'blagga').That was a very good thought

Ivano.Sempre avanti! I may have another story for you if I see you at the reunion. Anon

Anonymous said...

I have to say that the oxen are both beautiful animals and very very smart as well! Enjoyed the story! So very close to the earth!