1980: our brief history begins
In 1980 Corso Manthonè was still one of the out-of-the-way areas of Pescara, the old town, a sort of slum, so far from the crowds, the lights, and the pomps of Corso Umberto and Piazza Salotto.
“In the 80s Taverna 58 was also a very fashionable bar, so much crowded that we made up our mind to stop serving drinks at 10.30 pm, since the opening time on the morning was at 8 am. One of our many customers, discontented with the early closing, drew his gun on me and asked for a drink. What did I do? I served him his drink! Since then on I gave up having a drink license forever”.
2000 years of history in Taverna 58
Roman Age structures concerning the town of Ostia Aterni and ruins probably dating back to High Middle Ages period, when the town was known as Aternum, are visible in one point, in the cellar of the restaurant. Here a pavement in opera spicata, dating back to the 2nd-3rd century AC and covering a more ancient mosaic pavement, is strikingly visible within a kind of modern well, under the ground-water level which has been rising from the Roman Age till now, submerging the Roman layers.
Moreover, some walls attributable to a medieval house (13th-14th century) are visible too. At the end of 16th century, during the reconstruction of the town, once a Spanish fortress, the walls were used to create a small vent area for ground-water.
After the rising of the ground-water level, it was necessary to rise the level of the whole area. So the ruins of several medieval houses remained buried; anyway their walls were used as foundations to build the next 16th century houses.
The shape of the modern structure of the restaurant follows that of the former late Renaissance building closely. Some jugs found during the 1999 excavation are an important proof of that, as well as several valuable objects probably made in Penne. Among them you can see a jug portraying the “Belle Donne” (beautiful women) motif, reminding the castle tradition known as Orsini-Colonna and dating back to 16th century, and table tools for noble gentlemen, fortress officers and soldiers, arrived in Pescara to defend the town against Turkish invasion.
Memories of Tomassino the barber
When he was young, Tommaso Cipollone, the barber, used to cut don Mario’s hair, Prince of Montenevoso, Gabriele d’Annunzio’s son, at home (there Tommaso’s father had cut the illustrious poet’s hair). His housekeeper was always at home, in the kitchen with Marietta Camerlengo. Tommaso was a real gentleman. He was always very kind with his customers. The furniture in his shop led back to very past times. He knew the story of all the inhabitants who had their hair cut in his shop. When he was 80, he was forced to close down because of an eviction.
“You know, in Corso Manthonè, the main street of Pescara, from 6 to 9 pm (and in summer till 10-11 pm) there was the “struscio”, a parade of embellished people strolling up and down the street. Many ladies wearing a fox fur strolled up and down, talking and laughing. How beautiful they were… and scented too! They passed me by very closely. I can still remember each of them: they were blond or dark-haired, tall and so buxom!… Their names were Jolanda, Margherita… I used to watch all this leaned against the door of the shop or sitting down in a chair my father set out there for the customers waiting for their turn. Perhaps you don’t believe me, but I was always happy. All around there was a frisky atmosphere. Not always, but… I think it was certainly more frisky than it is today. On Saturday afternoon, after the mandatory course addressed to youngmen being about to do military service, when the band of Spoltore started to play (it was the 129th fascist legion), Corso Manthonè turned into a great feast. Thinking it over, there was always music. I almost forgot the many crank pianos with “trailers” towed by a donkey. One of the pianists particularly caught my attention. His name was Tommaso Grimaldi. He always said: “I’m from Caiovano, province of Salerno”. Then there was Giustinella, such a skinny woman that almost impressed me. And yet there was lady Maria, who had not a donkey, so she should pull her trainer manually.
Two beautiful women lived in Via delle Caserme: “la pennese” (coming from Penne) and “la curvenese” (coming from Collecorvino). I can still see their faces in front of me… how beautiful they were. “La pennese” had a scratch upon her face, from her ear to her mouth… “frechete” (good heavens!), but it didn’t disfigure her beauty. Opposite their house there was “la Cianchina”, also called “lu baìt”. It was a hidden and “fora mano” (out-of-the-way) whorehouse. Going towards the railway, you could find two other whorehouses. Too many of them, still not enough. On Saturday and Sunday a long line of people stretched in front of the whorehouse entrance. A very long line! One of those near the railway even did double duty. To get access to the first floor cost 6 lire, to the second one 15 lire. Sometimes it happened that, while we were standing in the waiting room on the second floor, the doors were suddenly closed to prevent us from seeing the arrival of some important figures. So we began to yell: “good heavens!Here he is … and so ambellished! To this the mistress got angry: “Shut up, bastards”! Who knows! Those were the days.
In the early 40s, they were suddenly closed. The war broke out. People were evacuated. The war, the bombing, the terror. We spent long miserable years. Finally, it was all over. Allies arrived in Pescara and everything was back to normal. And the whorehouses reopened too…”
A secure landmark
After the closure of the official whorehouse, sanctioned by the 1958 Merlin law, a whorehouse overlooking Corso Manthonè remained open. With all its buxom girls, she became so much popular in Abruzzo that Giovanni Marrone often mentioned it as a landmark to help his customers to reach Taverna 58.