Wake up call at 4.00 am…where am I going this early on a Sunday? It must be something really unique… indeed, it is. I drove all the way to Marotta to watch and live the reenactment of the old fishing tradition “alla tratta” or “alla sciabica”.
This is an ancient fishing method known since ancient times, whose name “tratta” comes from the Latin verb, trahere or noun trahea, from which the Italian trarre (to drag) derives.
The other Italian word sciabica (the seine) has its origin in the Arabic language in which the term šabaka indicates the two-winged net with a central pocket.
How does this old tradition work?
From the beginning of April until the first days of November, the fishermen used to gather on the beach and start fishing. The tratta could be three times a day: very early in the morning, in the afternoon and at night, from 9pm to 11pm.
The fishermen usually divided into two teams that were waiting on the beach, while three of them were rowing out in the sea. The boat used for this kind of fishing was usually 7 metres long with 3 different oars moved by the three fishermen. At the prow of the boat there was the net that was slowly lowered down into the water. The net would normally drown into the water, if it weren’t for some cork parts that let it float.
Once the loop was completed, the boat would return on the shore, and the two teams would drag the two ends of the net while getting closer and closer to each other. The final phases of the fishing were the most spectacular ones, because the fishes were jumping out of the net with some acrobatic movements.
The catch was usually sold to the fishmonger and then, if anything was left, was sold or swapped with some other products (most often coming from the land, i.e. vegetables or meat).
This job was very exhausting and all the help was very welcomed. Indeed, women were also working on the beach, dragging the net with their husbands. As well as in the countryside, where the vergara (the woman – we talked about it in one of our posts) used to rule and work, here we have the vergara di mare , the seaside counterpart.
This type of fishing is no longer allowed, because it was too close to the shore and could damage the eggs. However, the reenactment in Marotta is something really unique, that gives you the idea of the hard work of those past times.