I had to see this cigarette factory with my own two eyes. As we know, we learn and absorb real impressions through doing, "Io imparo facendo". Watching a film, reading a book, listening to a lecture, these are all cognitive and virtual in that they enter our consciousness through the mind and not through the body. Montessori emphasized how the child learns through 'doing', but in reality it is the same for every person at every stage of life: we all learn best through 'doing'. Everything we learn through the cognitive channels, we are only taking it in through the mind, and it is at risk of being lost when the cognitive memories are compromised, during the last "developmental" stage of life, and the loss of declarative memory. This is for another blog... but this transgression is simply saying: I wanted to be there, go to the facotry, and take it in through my own senses, log an experience - after all of the talk about it.
The film we had seen the evening prior had shown the history of the factory and it's vital importance to the town since 1759 when it was opened. The director had found historical footage of the women working there and rolling the tobacco leaves. Each employee was gifted 25 packs of cigarettes each month as part of their payment.
The workers were all women, and so the town of Chiaravalle, where Maria absorbed reality and incarnated her culture and personality up through the age of 3, women had work as laborers, they were an economic force in town.
Every morning the town's women walked to work down the street built in 1870 to connect the town to the factory and it was named: "Boulevard of the Lady Cigarette Workers". The women of Chiaravalle were empowered by their economic independence. And Montessori's father, Alessandro, was the government employee who oversaw the factory's finances and state income from it. You can see in the photo below what his car would look like if he were working there today!
And below is a link in Italian to an archive