No 17    November 1996   page 4


An Ancient and Noble Institution Ends in Nothing

By Raffaella Antrilli                                                                                                     The ex “Camillo and Francesco Porreca” Nursery School

There is no-one over the age of twenty-five years at Torricella Peligna who doesn’t have some memories of the “Camillo and Francesco Porreca” Nursery School (Kindergarten). Many generations of Torricellans have been given an education there, inspired by Christian religious principles, by the Nuns of the “Prezziosissimo Sangue” order (Very Precious Blood), deputised to run the Institute.

The Nursery was started in November 1916 due to the work of the brothers Don Francesco Porreca and Cavaliere Camillo Porreca, (their father was Lorenzo), in order to continue and enlarge the school already functioning there due to the enterprise of Don Francesco (Article 1 of the Statute). The name of the founders was given to the School and the building was situated in Via Peligna, donated on purpose by the two brothers, who owned it, as well as many other properties and land, amongst which an emporium on Corso Umberto I, which, according to the newspaper account, was looted during the strike and the unrest which shook all of Italy in those days.                      

Camillo and Francesco Porreca as long as they lived took care to finance the Nursery School and the priest, who outlived his brother, left it and all of his possessions in a holographic will[1] dated 21st March 1922, to the Institute, naming the Institute as his universal heir, so that the works of education, of life and of teaching the catechism, could continue.

Thanks to the generosity of the two brothers, the Nuns not only could take care of and educate children aged between three and six years of age, but also provide them with a healthy meal each day (who could forget those perfumes and those tastes?) The school was also attended each day by girls from the village, who came to learn the art of embroidery, so that they could prepare their trousseaus. On the occasions of the Sunday meetings of the Catholic Action Group, the girls, divided into groups (the very young, the darlings, aspirants, little girls, young girls and women), would meet and carry out a programme of catechism and prayer. Amongst those attending the Nursery, there were also the youths from the village, since the Institute also functioned as a meeting place for socialising and enjoyment and in a certain sense as a social centre, where every now and again they even organised feste (feast days or holidays).
The Nuns ran the institution for almost sixty years, with only a brief interruption during the Second World War, and ended their involvement around the middle of the 1970’s, when, following the inauguration of the State Primary School, they left Torricella Peligna and were replaced by State Teachers. These latter only remained at this site for a short while longer; in fact in the space of a few years the Primary School transferred to Viale Michele Persichetti and later to Via Bellini, to the site of the Elementary School.

In the meanwhile, the Municipal Council, with their decision of 13.05.1981, took action and passed possession of all the goods and belongings of the “Camillo and Francesco Porreca” Nursery School to the Commune of Torricella Peligna, on the basis of D.P.R.[2] 616/1977, and also Regional Law Number 42/1978. In fact this law brings about suppression of Communal Assistance Organisations and Charities, to which category the Nursery School could belong, as it was recognised as a “Moral Organisation” with a decreto luogotenenziale[3] (lieutenant’s decree) of 09.12.1917 and regulated on the basis of the rules of law relating to Assistance Organisations and Charities (law 17.07.1908 and 01.07.1904, in virtue of a reference to the same contained in the Organisation’s Statutes).

What happened afterwards belongs to modern-day history, which even happened in front of the eyes of everybody. The structure of the Nursery School, in its entirety, (thus including the garden), with time has become reduced in size, firstly caused by a decrease of area with transfer of part of the garden and later progressive deterioration, perhaps caused by work s totally modifying the internal plan (including destruction of the small Chapel that had previously existed there), perhaps because of works not always well-organised so that ultimately they were totally negative.

I wonder what dear Don Francesco Porreca would think (were he able to see and to know about it), who did so much to ensure that the place should continue to welcome Torricella’s children? What would he think, considering that, in designating the Nursery School as his universal heir, of all his goods and possessions, he put in the charge of the Administrative Council and of the Teachers, the responsibility of teaching catechism and the catholic religion daily to the children, non-fulfilment of which duty could have led to a pronouncement cancelling the provisions of his will?

And what would he say about the name plaque that had been placed in his memory and that of his brother over the entrance doorway and that was removed to be stored who knows where?

Translator's Notes:

[1] Holograph Will - is a Will that is handwritten and signed only by the person making it. The problem with a Holograph Will is that legal disputes can ensue if the instructions aren't absolutely clear. Also, some provinces don't recognize Holograph Wills, or require that they be signed and witnessed by others.
[2] D.P.R. - Decreto del Presidente della Repubblica – Decree of the President of the Republic.

[3] In 1944, when Italy was ready to become a republic, Vittorio Emanuele was formally “demoted” from being King to become a lieutenant of the Government; decrees he then issued were called decreto legge luogotenenziale – such decrees included those giving rise to the formation of an assembly to draft the new constitution and to choose a form for the new state, and the decree showing that he intended to abdicate in favour of his son (Umberto II, also named as Lieutenant General).

Translation courtesy of Dr. Marion Apley Porreca

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