Roasio, the Village with the suitcase
Roasio is a little village in the province of Vercelli situated on the hills of the Baraggia (a natural reserve), on the right bank of the Rovasenda stream.
On the 09.10.2011, date of the last national census, the residents were 2.416, but over 600 of them still live and work abroad, following the tradition of their fathers and therefore feeding an emigration that is lost in the mists of time and generations.
The first outings ever recorded date back to the second half of the sixteen-hundreds and were directed towards Rome and Turin. Then, around the end of the seventeen-hundreds the seasonal emigration towards the Baraggia started, first in June-July for the weeding of rice, and in a second moment, in September for the harvesting.
This mass movement lasted for the whole of the 19th century and resumed later on during the first and second world war.
Around 1860 the people of Roasio crossed the Alps, and travelled towards France and French-speaking Switzerland, where they worked as labourers, construction workers, interior and exterior decorators, and miners in the steel industry of Le Creusot (France).
Other testimonies and documents dating from 1890 tell the stories of men who left their Country to work in the construction industry in North and South America, as well as Africa, which immediately became the continent of choice, with people emigrating especially to South Africa, Angola, Belgian Congo, Mozambique, Rhodesia, Gold Coast, Nigeria and Algeria.
The road and railway builders were followed by those who ended up working on construction sites of public and private landmarks, creating with time real business dynasties.
Their achievements are a testament on foreign land of their expertise and their strong operational capabilities in working as a group, and for that, they were everywhere recognized and praised.
"Museo dell'emigrante" di Roasio and its book, "Il paese con la valigia" (The village with the suitcase), wish to dutifully honour the memory of these great men and women.
Curator of "Il paese con la valigia"(first edition, may 2004; second edition, november 2013)