Mar 062012
Grain planted among trees with grape vines trained up them. With the kind permission of the Fondazione Lungarotti.

We’ve posted other modern pictures of the remnants of the agricultural system coltura promiscua (mixed farming), a system in which a polyculture of plants combine to make a highly productive field. The following pictures (used with the kind of the Fondazione Lungarotti) are from the early post-WWII period and clearly show the persistence of the coltura promiscua, as well as traditional winemaking methods (stomping grapes with feet). For more information, see our post on the coltura promiscua and visit Lungarotti’s Museum of Wine near Perugia, where these pictures can be viewed in context with many other objects from Italy’s agricultural past.  ZN



Woman harvesting grapes from vines grown around trees. With the kind permission of the Fondazione Lungarotti.

Coltura promiscua

Vines draped from tree to tree. With the kind permission of the Fondazione Lungarotti.

Grain planted among trees with grape vines trained up them. With the kind permission of the Fondazione Lungarotti.

Aug 292011

While visiting Olio Trevi yesterday, I had the opportunity to talk to owner Angelo Guidobaldi. Confirming that olive oil, far from being a food of the common people in Italy’s past (as proponents of the so-called Mediterranean Diet would have us believe), was a symbol of luxury. Signor Guidobaldi told me that a branch of the tree was often sculpted into the stone lintel of noble houses: “We can afford olive oil to eat here,” it told the poor and illiterate.

To illustrate the point, he showed us a series of measurements for the sale of olive oil, all made in tin in the late Eighteenth or early Nineteenth centuries. Some of the smaller sizes were surprisingly small, the smallest about 50mL. “Oil was precious, and even if you could afford it, as a peasant you couldn’t afford much.” Signor Guidobaldi also suggested that Italy’s current culinary xenophobia may be the ideological descendant of Fascist policies which attempted to close the peninsula to outside cultural influences–an interesting thesis which we hope to pursue.  ZN

Aug 192011

Olive harvesting nowadays is done with pneumatic “combs” or a tractor attachment that shakes the olives out of the tree. This undated picture shows the old-fashioned way that the harvest was done: waiting until the olives fell from tree and then collecting them by hand. The title of the photgraph is “Raccolta Olive” (Olive Harvest) and it was taken in the Agro di Melendugno in the province of Lecce in the southern Italian region of Apulia (Puglia). The photographer is Luigi Sacchetti and the copyright is held by A. Morgante (Mediterraneo Productions,  ZN

Women harvesting olives in Melendugno.

Aug 172011

We have written previously about the so-called coltura promiscua (also referred to as coltura mista, or mixed farming), which dominated central Italian agriculture until the 1960s. The following photos, taken outside of the municipality of Monte Santa Maria Tiberina (province of Perugia), show remnants of that kind of agriculture.  A recent article of mine on the subject can be downloaded here: NOWAK–Coltura Promiscua. ZN


Coltura promiscua or co
A field with remnants of the “coltura promiscua.”
Coltura promiscua
Coltura promiscua branch detail

A detail of a grapevine growing around the branch of a Field Maple, an example of the coltura promiscua, or "mixed farming."

Coltura promiscua detail binding

A detail of the binding used to hold a grapevine to a Field Maple: the "cord" is a pruned piece of grapevine.

Jan 102011

The following pictures were drawn by Reinert and appeared in his hilarious With the 332 Reg. in ’18 Italy ’19. We have extracted some of the images concerning food, showing Italy as the land of fun and scarcity in the late First World War and its aftermath. SY























































Jan 022011

This portrait by Niccolo Cassana (obit 1714) presently stands in the Vasari Corridor. It dates to a period when Italian artists were extending their range from masters to the general household. SY