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world, yet the cool temperature of some of the northern districts admits of the finest pastures, while, from the warmth of others, the rocky sides of hills are as productive of grapes and olives as the plains are in corn. It is the only country in Europe, with the exception of some parts of Spain, where corn, grass, butcher's meat, cheese, butter, rice, silk, cotton, wine, oil, and fruits are produced, all in the highest degree of perfection. Only a fifth of its surface is considered sterile; while only a fifth of the surface of France is considered fertile. The population of Italy is greater in proportion to the surface, than that of either France or Britain.
261. The writers on the rural economy of Italy are, Arthur Young, in 1788 ; Sismondi, in 1801 ; and, Chateauvieux, in 1812. From the works of these authors, from those of Forsyth, Wilson, and other recent tourists, and from our own observations in 1819, we shall select some of the most characteristic traits as to the agriculture of Italy, adopting the division of Chateauvieux, of the region of irrigation, and the rotation of crops, in Lombardy; the region of vines and olives, exemplified in Tuscany ; the region of insalubrious air, or the states of the church ; and the region of volcanic ashes, or the Neapolitan culture.
Subsect. 1. Of the Agriculture of Lombardy. 262. The climate of Lombardy is less irregular than that of some other districts. It is temperate on the declivities of the mountains in Piedmont, where the richest sheep pastures are situated ; subject to great vicissitudes and to severe storms at the base of the Alps; and warm and humid in the plain of the Po. In some parts the olive and the orange endure the open air throughout the year, as in the islands of the lakes ; in other places, at Milan for example, they require nearly as much protection in winter as in England.
263. The soil of the plain of the Po has evidently been formed by the recession or deposition of water, and is a rich black mould, deep, and every where perfectly level.
264. These lands are every where enclosed, either with hedges and ditches, or with open water-courses for irrigation. The hedges, however, are not very well kept : they are a mixture of different plants; often of willows chiefly, occasionally of the mulberry for feeding the silkworms, and sometimes of reeds. The hedge-plants of the country are the Christ's thorn (Paliùrus austràlis, fig. 31.), common hawthorn, and pomegranate. 265. The lands are generally farmed by metayers
31 (from meta, one half, Ital.). The landlord pays the taxes, and repairs the buildings; the tenant provides cattle, implements, and seed; and the produce is divided. In some cases the landlord's half is delivered to him in kind; in others it is valued annually at harvest, and paid in money, or partly in money and partly in produce. There are some farmers who have leases, generally for short periods, not exceeding nine years, and pay fixed rents. The size of farms is from ten to sixty acres; but there are a few of two or three hundred acres. The latter, however, are chiefly cultivated by the proprietors. Farm-houses are of brick, sometimes stuccoed, and covered with tiles. They are not always detached; but two, three, or more, farmeries are often grouped together, and their united buildings might be mistaken for those of one large farm. One side of a square contains the houses of the farmers, the stables, and cattle-sheds; and the three others are sheds, supported by columns, and open on all sides, for implements and produce. The metayers never get rich, and are seldom totally ruined; they are not often changed; the same farm passes from father to son, like a patrimonial estate.
266. Landed property is generally managed by a steward or factor (fattore), whose business it is to inspect the cultivation of the lands, to direct repairs, pay taxes and tithes, and see that the landlord has his proper share of the produce. Tithes have been greatly lessened by the sale of a great part of the church lands at the revolution ; but are still taken in kind, or commuted for, in order to support the parish clergy.
267. The irrigation of Lombardy is its most remarkable feature. The antiquity of the practice has been already noticed (180). In most states of Italy, the right and property of all rivers, and in some, as Venice, even of springs and rain, are considered as vested in the king or government. All canals taken from rivers are, therefore, purchased from the state, and may be carried through any person's lands, provided they do not pass through a garden, or within a certain distance of a mansion, on paying the value of the ground occupied. Such canals, indeed, are generally considered as enhancing the value of the property they pass through, by enabling them to purchase water, which is sold by the hour, half bour, or quarter, or by so many days' run, at certain fixed times, in the year. The right to water from such canals may even be purchased ; and Arthur Young
mentions that the fee-simple for an hour's run per week, through a sluice of a certain dimension, near Turin, was, in 1788, 1500 livres. The water is not only used for grasslands, which, when fully watered, are mown four, and sometimes five, times a year, and in some cases (e. g. Prato Marcita) as early as March; but is conducted between the narrow ridges of corn-lands, in the hollows between drilled crops, among vines, or to flood, a foot or more in depth, lands which are sown with rice. It is also used for combles, or depositing a surface of mud, in some places where the water is charged with that material; and this is done somewhat in the manner of what we call warping. The details of watering, for these and other purposes, are given in various works; and collected in those of Professor Re. In general, watered lands let at one third higher than lands unwatered.
268. The implements and operations of agriculture in Lombardy are very imperfect. The plough is of very rude contrivance, with a handle thirteen or fourteen feet long. It is drawn by two oxen without a driver or reins, the ploughman using a long light rod or goad. The names given to the different parts of the plough are corruptions or variations of the Roman terns already mentioned. (111.) Corn is generally beaten out by a wheel or large fluted cylinder (fig. 32.), which is turned in a circular track, somewhat in the manner of a bark-mill in England.
269. The cattle of Piedmont are, in some cases, fed with extraordinary care. They are tied up in stalls; then bled once or twice ; cleaned and rubbed with oil; afterwards combed and brushed twice a day: their food in summer is clover, or other green herbage; in winter a mixture of elm leaves, clover-hay, and pulverised walnut-cake, over which boiling water is poured, and bran and salt added. Where grains (pouture) can be procured, they are also given. In a short time, the cattle cast their hair, grow smooth, round, fat, and so improved as to double their value to the butcher. (Mem. della Soc. Agr., sol i. p. 73.)
270. The dairies on the plain of the Po, near Lodi, produce the Parmesan cheese. The peculiar qualities of this cheese depend more on the manner of making than on any thing else. The cows are a mixed breed, between the red Hungarian or Swiss cow, and those of Lombardy. The chief peculiarity in their feeding is, that they are allowed to eat - four or five hours in the twenty-four; all the rest of the time they are stalled, and get 33
hay. Both their pasture and hay are chiefly from irrigated lands. The cheeses are made entirely of skimmed milk; half of that which has stood sixteen or seventeen hours, and half of that which has stood only six. The milk is heated and coagulated in a caldron (fig. 33.), placed in a very ingenious fire-place, being an inverted semi-cone in brickwork, well adapted for preserving heat and for the use of wood as fuel. Without being taken out of the caldron, the curd is broken very smali by an implement, consisting of a stick with cross wires ; it is again heated, or rather scalded, till the curd, now a deposition from the whey, has attained a considerable degree of firmness; it is then taken out, drained, salted, and pressed, and in forty days is fit to put in the cheeseloft. The peculiar properties of this cheese seem to depend on the mode of scalding the curd; though the
dairyists pretend that it also depends on the mode of feeding the cows. Where one farmer has not enough of cows to carry on the process himself
, it is common for two or more to join and keep a partnership account, as in Switzerland. More minute details will be found in Book IV. Part VII.
271. Sheep are not common in Lombardy: there are flocks on the mountains, but in the plains only a few are kept, in the manner pigs are in England, to eat refuse vegetables. The Merino breed was introduced, and found not to succeed.
272. The rotations of crops are not so remarkable for preserving the fertility of the soil, as for an immediate return of profit. The produce however being seldom bulky, the object is defeated. As examples, we may mention, 1. maize drilled ; 2, 3, and 4. wheat ; 5. maize drilled; 6, 7, and 8. wheat. Another is, 1. fallow ; 2, 3, and 4. rice; fallow ; 6. wheat and clover, &c. Hemp, flax, lupines, rape, millet, panic, rye, and sometimes oats, with other crops, enter into the rotations. Rice is reckoned the most profitable crop; the next, wheat and millet. The rice-grounds receive but one ploughing, which is given in the middle of March, and the seed is sown at the end of the same month; sometimes in water up to the seedsman's knees, but more frequently the water is Dot let on till the rice is come up. The water is then admitted, and left on the ground till the beginning of June, when the crop is weeded by hand, by women half naked, with their petticoats tucked to their waists, wading in the water; and they make so droll a
figure, that parties are often made at that season to go and view the rice-grounds. When the weeding is finished, the water is drawn off for eight days; it is again drawn off when the ear begins to form, but after its formation is let in again till the rice is nearly ripe, which is about the end of August or beginning of September. The produce is from ten to twenty fold.
273. Among the herbage crops cultivated, may be mentioned chiccory, very common in the watered meadows, rib-grass, also very common, oat-grass, and some other grasses ; but not near the variety of grasses found in the English meadows and pastures ; fenugreek (Trigonélla L.), clovers, lucerne, saintfoin, and in some places burnet and spurry.
274. Among the trees grown by the farmer, the mulberry predominates, and is pollarded once or oftener every year for the silkworm. The tree is common in the hedge-rows, and in rows along with vines parallel to broad ridges. The vine is generally cultivated ; trained or rather hung on mulberry, maple, or flowering ash pollards, or climbing up tali elms, or in the hedges, or against willow poles or rude espalier rails. The olive is not very common, but is planted in schistous declivities in warm situations; the apple, pear, and green gage plum are common.
275. Though the agriculture of Lombardy appears to be practised more for subsistence, than for the employment of capital and the acquisition of riches, yet, from the effect of irrigation in producing large crops of grass, the profits of rearing silk, and the rigid economy of the farmers, it is thought by Chateauvieux that it sends more produce to market than any district of Italy. (Italy, let. iv.)
SUBSECT. 2. Of the Agriculture of Tuscany. 276. The picture of the agriculture of Tuscany given by Sismondi
, a distinguished literary character of Geneva, who resided five years as a cultivator in that country, is well known. Sismondi arranges the rural economy of this district into that of the plains, the slopes, and the mountains; and we shall here state the most interesting or characteristic circumstances which occur in his work, or that of Chateauvieux, under these heads. According to Forsyth, one half of Tuscany consists of mountains which produce nothing but timber; one sixth of olive and vine hills; and the remaining third is plain. The whole is distributed into eighty thousand fattorie, or stewardships. Each fattoria includes, on an average, seven farms. This property is divided among forty thousand families or corporations. The Riccardi, the Strozzi, the Feroni, and the Benedictines rank first in the number. The clergy keep the farmers well disciplined in faith, and through the terror of bad crops, they begin to extort the abolished tithes. This was in 1802: tithes are again fully established under the Austrian power.
277. The climate of Tuscany is esteemed the best in Italy, with the exception of that of its maremme, or pestilential region on the sea-coast. The great heats commence at the end of June, and diminish in the middle of September; the rest of the year is a perpetual spring, and vegetation in the plains is only interrupted for two or three weeks in the middle of winter. On the mountains there is snow all the year; and the hilly districts enjoy a temperate but irregular weather in summer, and a winter of from one to three months.
278. The soil of the plains is either sand or mud of “ inexpressible fertility;" some parts were marshy, but the surface is now comparatively elevated and enriched (as was that of the Delta) by combles (colmata), or warping, a process ably described by Sismondi. (Agr. Tuscan., § ii.)
279. Irrigation in the plains is practised in all the different modes as in Lombardy, but on a smaller scale, correspondent with their extent.
280. The plain is every where enclosed. The fields are parallelograms, generally one hundred feet broad, and four or five hundred feet long, surrounded by a ditch planted with Lombardy poplars and vines, with rows, lengthwise, of mulberries, maple, or the flowering or manna ash, also interspersed with vines; and
34 often, by the way-sides, these hang in festoons, from tall elms. (fig. 34.) The poplars supply leaves for feeding heifers, rods which are sold for making espaliers for vines, and spray for fuel. Every now and then a few are cut down for timber, as at twenty years they are found to be too large for the situation. The top of the ash and maple is used for fuel ; the timber for implements of husbandry. The mulberry is pollarded every other year for the leaves, which are stripped off for the silkworms, and the spray used as fuel. The produce of raw silk is one of the most important in Tuscany, and is almost the only article the farmer of the plains has to exchange for money. He has wine also, it is true, but that, though produced in abundance, is of so wretched a quality, compared with that of the hills, that it brings but little. Hedges are only planted on the road sides to keep off beggars and thieves, who are very numerous, and who steal the grapes and the ears of maize. Some
times the grapes next the road are sprinkled with mud or lime-water to deter them; at other times a temporary dead fence of thorns is used during the ripening season and taken down afterwards. The hedge plants are the hawthorn, sloe, bramble, briar, evergreen rose, iles, service, myrtle, pomegranate, bay, laurel, &c.
281. In the arable lands of the plains, the row and mostly the raised drill culture are generally followed, or the land is ploughed into beds of three or four feet broad, between shich water is introduced in the furrows. Every year a third of the farm is turned over with a spade to double the depth of the plough, so as to bring a new soil to the surface. The sort of trenching which effects this is performed differently from that of any other country; the spade being thrust in horizontally or obliquely, and the trench formed by taking off successive layers from the top of the firm side, and turning them regularly over in the trench. In this way the surface is completely reversed.
282. The rotation of crops in the plain includes a period of three or five years, and five or seven crops. There are for a three-years' course ; 1. wheat or other grain, and lupines in the autumn; 2. corn of some sort, and turnips or clover in the autumn; 3. maize, panic, or common millet, and Indian or black millet (Hólcus Sórghum). Corn is cut about the end of June close to the earth, left to dry a day or two, and then tied in bundles (bottes), and put in cocks for a week or two. At the end of this period the ears are cut off, and beaten out on a smooth prepared piece of ground in the farm-yard. The straw is stacked, and the corn cleaned by throwing it with shovels, &c. The corn is laid up till wanted in oval excavations in dry ground, which are covered with tiled roofs. The excavations are lined with straw; one holds from twenty to a hundred sacks, and being covered with straw, is heaped over with earth. In this way it is kept in perfect preservation a year or longer, and untouched by insects. The lupines sown after wheat are often ploughed in for manure ; sometimes French beans are substituted, and the ripe seeds used as food; or turnips are sown for cattle. They have few sorts of turnips that are good; and Sismondi complains that half of them never bulb. Maize is sown in drills, and forms a superb crop in appearance, and no less important, constituting the principal food of the lower classes in every part of
35 Italy where the chestnut does not abound. When the male flowers of the maize begin to fade, they are cut off by degrees, so as not to injure the swelling grain; the leaves are also cut off about that time, cattle being remarkably fond of thern. In the plain of Bologna, hemp, fax, and beans enter into the rotation.
283. Cattle in the plains are kept constantly in close warm houses, and fed with weeds, leaves, or whatever can be got. The oxen in Tuscany are all dovecoloured; even those which are imported from other states, are said to
k change their coat here. They are guided in the team by reins fixed to rings which are inserted in their nostrils ; sometimes two hooks, jointed like pincers, are used
i for the samne purpose. In general, only one crop in four is raised for the food of catule, so that these are not numerous; it may thrus appear that manure would be searce, but the Tuscan farmers are as
of assiduous in preserving every particle both of human and animal manure as the Flemings.
284. The farm-houses of the plain of Tuscany, according to Lasteyrie (Coli. Mach.), are constructed with more
9 taste, solidity, and convenience, than in any other country on the Continent. They are built of stones generally, in rubble work, with good lime and sand, whách become as hard as stucco, and they are covered with red pantiles.
2 The elevation (fig. 35.) presents two
n deep recesses, the one a porch or common hall to the ground floor, or hus
bandry part of the edifice (a); and the other above it to the dwelling family apartments. The ground floor consists of this porch, which is arched over (a), a workshop (b), a harness and tool-room (c), pigsty (d), poultry-house (e), a stove (f), staircase (g), stable (h), cow or ox house (i), and sheep-house (k). The dwelling floor consists of the upper gallery or open hall (1), which serves as a sort of kitchen, work-room, or scullery, a kitchen (m), a master and mistress's room (n), a girls' room (o), a boys' room (P), a store room (9), and silkworm room (r).
285. The peasants, or farmers, of the plains are for the most part metayers ; their farms are from five to ten acres, each having a house and offices, like that just described, towards its centre. Some pay a fixed rent on short leases; and some hold farms on improving leases which extend to four generations. They are more than economical ; never tasting butcher's meat but on Sunday. The three repasts of the other days are either of porridge of maize and a salad; porridge of bread and French beans, seasoned with olive oil ; or of some sort of soup. In general the whole family remain at home, and aid their parents in performing the labours of the farm. Seldom any but the oldest son marries; and when the father dies he succeeds in his turn, and his brothers and sisters serve him as they did their father till they die off, and are replaced by their nephews and nieces. Such is the state of things which, as Chateauvieux has observed, is the result of early civilisation and excessive population.
286. The culture of the hills and declivities, Chateauvieux supposes to have been introduced from Canaan at the time of the crusades : but, though that culture, and also the irrigation system, have, no doubt, been originally copied from that country and Egypt, yet some think it more likely to have been imported by the Romans or the priests, than by the chivalric adventurers of the eleventh and twelfth centuries.
287. The soil of the hills is in general either schistous or calcareous, on a pliable rocky or gravelly bottom. It is cut into horizontal terraces, of different widths according to the steepness of the declivity, and each terrace is supported by a wall or sloping bank of turf or stones. Intercepting gutters are formed every sixty or seventy feet, in the direction of the slope, to carry off the waters which do not sink in the rainy season. Sismondi considers the turfed terraces of the hills of Nievole the most elegant. On the terraces of the most rapid and least favourably exposed slopes, olives are planted ; on the best exposure, vines. Where the terrace is broad, two rows of mulberries, and sometimes of fig trees, are planted, and between these, where the soil is not too dry, early crops of grain or legumes are taken. The walls of turf are mown.
288. The olive being an evergreen, and in a state of growth all the year, requires a more equable climate than the vine ; but it will grow on any dry soil, and in an inferior exposure, because the fruit never ripens till the hoar frosts have commenced. The young plants are raised from cuttings or suckers in a nursery, and in the same manner in which it was during the time of the Romans. “ An old tree is hewn down, and the ceppo, or stock (that is, the collar or neck between the root and the trunk, where in all plants the principle of life more eminently resides), is cut into pieces of nearly the size and shape of a mushroom, and which from that circumstance are called novali ; care at the same time is taken that a small portion of bark shall belong to each novalo; these, after having been dipped in manure, are put into the earth, soon throw up shoots, are transplanted at the end of one year, and in three years are fit to form an olive yard.' (Blunt's Vestiges, 216.) They are planted generally fifteen feet apart in rows, with the same distance between the rows.
289. The olive is of very slow growth but of great duration. Some plantations exist, which are supposed to be those mentioned by Pliny, and therefore must have existed nearly two thousand years, if not more. In one of these, which we have seen in the vale of Marmora, near Terni, the trunks of many trees have rotted at the core, and the circumference has split open and formed several distinct stems. Though in ruins, these trees still bear abundant crops. The olive requires little pruning, and is seldom otherwise manured than by sowing lupines under it, and digging them in. The fruit becomes black in November; is gathered in the course of that and the three following months ; and ground in a stone trough by a stone turned by a water-wheel. The paste formed by the fruit, and its kernels, is then put in a hair cloth and pressed, and the oil drops in a tub of water somewhat warm, from which it is skimmed and put in glass bottles for sale, or glazed jars for home consumption. The paste is moistened and pressed a second and third time for oils of inferior quality. The crop of olives is very uncertain ; sometimes one that yields a profit does not occur for six or eight years together, as in the culture of wine and cider: and these departments of culture on the Continent are considered as injurious to the peasant, because in the year of plenty he consumes his superfluous profits, without laying any thing aside to meet the years of loss. Hence the remark common in France and Italy, that wine and oil farming is less beneficial than that of corn.
290. The vine on the hills is generally raised where it is to remain, by planting cuttings; but it is also planted with roots procured by layering : in either case, it seldom bears fruit