The largest number of tuna fished in a single fishing session (the traditional name is “mattanza”) was 2047.  It took place in May 31, 1909, and is still referred to  as "du Lallan", the nickname of Angelo Pomata who was the Rais of Isola Piana, who commanded and directed the record breaking Mattanza. 

Although it may seem incredible, due to the potential danger, major accidents have never occurred during the numerous mattanze, mainly due to dexterity of the fishermen. The only known accident with fatal consequences occurred in 1914.  The cause was not the inexperience of the fishermen but rather the bad weather conditions. The victim was the Rais Isola Piana Giuseppe Luxoro, who was struck by lightning during a storm while directing the mattanza, and died on the spot.

Until 1950, when the mattanza began on the Tonnare (netting fence used to catch tuna) of Portoscuso, Isola Piana and Portopaglia, fisherman used to hoist a flag to inform everyone that the mattanza was beginning. The flag of Portoscuso consisted of a red cross on a white field. The Isola Piana raised the Italian flag, while the town of Portopaglia’s flag was red and white checkered.

For five years, between 1775 and 1780 , on the southwestern coast of the island, the tonnara net of Spalmatore was established and located in front of  "La Conca". It had an extension of 700 meters. This huge tuna net cost an annual rent of 8000 crowns to be paid to Real Estate, from Don Alberto Genoves son of the Duke of San Pietro.  Fewer than 900 tuna were caught in five years and eventually that was the reason for its abandonment.

In the lives of the islanders, the tuna fish has had a great deal of importance and not only from an economic standpoint. The experience of the tonnara influenced the tabarchina language with new and colorful phrases. So the "S 'n tunnu" expression (to be a tuna) can take different meanings depending on the tone with which is pronounced and to whom it is addressed. You may refer to the stupidity of someone by saying "che tunnu" (what a tuna), but it can also refer to size (or simply fat, or simply big) but if is alluded to a girl it can mean "what a beauty!"

 The year in which the islanders captured the most was 1786. In the tuna nets were caught 14.500 tunas in Portoscuso, in that Portopaglia 9700, while 12000 and 7000 respectively were caught in the tuna nets of the island of Piana and of Calavinagra. A total of 43200 tunas were "mattanzati" that spring.

Link to Article - INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT TUNA AND THE TONNARE


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