It is interesting how much there is to be shown even in the 29th year of the. Gathering. Natalia Estrada and Drew Mischianti introduced us to our Italian guests in the G3Bar Theater on a classic Elko evening.
Drew acted as MC and interpreter as he and Natalia set the scene about ranch life and history in their region between Rome and Naples. They laughed about how the region of Maremma historically was like Nevada. Throughout its early history it was a land nobody wanted or was discounted as a bad territory to travel through. They spoke lovingly of cow camps, beautiful vistas and food garnered from the land. The music definitely had the feel of an earlier time, yet the singing of Gianluca Zammarelli had the smooth, clear character that Americans recognize from 20th century popular song. The ancient guitar, traditional pipes and accordion were explained in their historical context, most notably that, the bagpipe came from the Greeks and Romans and eventually to the regional cultures of Europe.
It was a much anticipated evening and people were very taken with the enthusiasm and passion that the Italians have for their life, their land and their ranch based culture. The program was a good start for what I think will be a continuing theme throughout this week: that our cultural story is very incomplete without understanding the central role that Italian culture plays in the livestock cultures that exist today.