« PreviousContinue »
till the fifth year after planting. It is trained on trees, poles, and trellised roofs, over paths, and different kinds of espalier rails. The poles are of barked chestnut, and the lesser rods used are generally of reeds; the latter forms a profitable article of culture on the brink of water-courses for this purpose. These reeds last from one to four years, according to their size. The ties used in binding the vine both on the hills and plains are of willow, often the yellow or golden sort. The general maxim in pruning the vine is to leave as much wood to one stool as possible, in order to prevent two shoots from proceeding from one eye, in which case both are generally barren. They give no summer pruning; but, when the fruit is nearly ripe, they cut off the extremities of the shoots for the sake of the leaves as forage, and to admit the sun and air more directly to the fruit. The pruning-hook they use (fig. 36.) is not unlike a hand hedge-bill. The fruit is gathered by women, and put into baskets and hampers; then carried to a tub or cistern of masonry, where it lies and ferments, being frequently stirred, but not pressed as in France and other parts of Italy.
The management of the wine is not considered good ; and there are but few 36 sorts of Tuscan wine that will keep above a year.
291. The potato, little known in Lombardy, was introduced in the hills of Tuscany by Sismondi, but was little cultivated or esteemed. It is only known, he says, to the gardeners of Florence and Leghorn. If not taken up about the middle of July, the tubers are either burned and rotted by the heat, or they germinate at every bud. An early sort, he thinks, might be introduced both in the plain and hill culture with great advantage.
992. The hill farmers, like those of the plains, are generally metayers, and rent their farms, which seldom exceed seven or eight acres; and the most general conditions of their lease (bail), according to M. Sismondi, are the following :- 1. The farmer engages to cultivate the lands, and find the requisite props for the vines. 2. To advance the half of the seed, and the half of the dung that is obliged to be purchased. 3. To deliver to the proprietor half the crop, or sell
it for his account. 4. To divide with the proprietor the profit made on cattle, and to deliver a certain number of eggs, chickens, and capons in lieu of that on poultry. 5. To wash the whole or a part of the proprietor's linen, he finding soap. The proprietor on his part engages to advance the other half of the seed, and of the manure which must be purchased ; to be at the expense of making up new grounds and other radical improvements, to effect repairs, &c., and to find the first props for newly planted vines. This contract goes on from year to year, and can only be dissolved by a year's notice; changes, however, very seldom take place. The conditions in some places are more severe for the farmer; and on oil and certain other articles he only receives a third of the profits.
293. The culture of the mountains of Tuscany consists of the harvesting of chestnuts, and the management of live stock and of forests. The chestnut trees, Sismondi is of opinion, have been originally planted, but they now receive no other care than that of replacing a worn out tree by a young one, and cutting out dead wood, which is done more for the sake of fuel than any thing else. The fruit is gathered in November, after it drops on the turf: it is eaten either in its natural state, or it is ground into meal and prepared as flour. Such as are to be ground, are first kilndried; next, they are put into small bags, which hold half a bushel each, and these are beat against the ground till the outer husk is removed ; they are then taken out, the outer husks separated, and the chestnuts replaced, and beat as before till the inner husk comes off ; they are then cleaned in the wind, and sent to a corn-mill to be ground. The flour they produce has no bran, and is mild and sweet, and keeps well. Lands covered with chestnuts are valued, not by their extent, but by the number of sacks of fruit annually produced. Chestnut flour is chiefly used in the form of porridge or pudding. In the coffee-houses of Lucca, Pescia, and Pistoja, patés, muffins, tarts, and other articles are made of it, and are considered delicate.
294. The management of sheep in the mountains is rude and unprofitable, and so little is mutton esteemed in Tuscany that it always sells at two or three sous a pound under every other meat. The sheep are pastured all the summer under the chestnut trees; but in October, when the fruit begins to fall, they are sent to the maremmes, where they remain till the May or June following, at the cost of not more than a penny a head. A wretched cheese is made from the milk; but, bad as it is, it is better than what is made from the milk of goats or cows. The Tuscans, indeed, are so unwilling to believe that good cheese can be produced from the latter animals, that they consider the Dutch and other excellent foreign cheeses which they purchase at Leghorn, as all made from the
295. Forests of timber trees cover the highest parts of the mountains. These form sources of profit to the peasantry, independently of the sale of timber, which is very limited, owing to the difficulty of carriage. Hogs are pastured there, left to themselves the whole year, and only sought for when wanted for the butcher. Their flesh is excellent,
milk of sheep
and, being very abundant in the markets of most parts of Italy, is not dear. Acorns are collected in some places, and sold to the farmers of the plains, for feeding swine. The cones of the Pinus Pinea (fig. 37.) are collected, and the seeds taken out : these are much esteemed, and bear a high price. The same thing is, in some places, done with the cones of the wild pine, commonly but erroneously called the Scotch fir (Pinus sylvéstris L.), whose seeds are equally good, though smaller. Strawberries, bramble-berries, gooseberries, currants, raspberries, and other wild fruits, are collected, and either sold publicly in the markets of the plains, or privately to the confectioners for flavouring ices; an article in great demand throughout all Italy. Sismondi seems to have been the first who noticed that the black mulberry was grown in the mountains for its leaves, being considered as hardier than the white. The fruit was only eaten by children. In the plains and gardens of Italy the mulberry is scarcely known as a fruit tree, though the white species is every where grown for the silkworm.
296. The mountain farmers are generally proprietors of their farms. They live together in villages, which are very numerous ; many of them hire themselves to the farmers of the maremmes, where there is a scarcity of population, to assist in their harvests; and with the money saved in this way, and by sending fruits, collected by their wives and children, to the towns in the plains, they are generally better off than the farmers of the hills, or of the low country.
297. The agricultural establishment of Rossore may be mentioned as belonging to Tuscany. It is situated at the gate of Pisa, and was founded by the family of Medici, in the time of the crusades, and now belongs to government. A league square of ground, which was so poor and sandy as to be unfit for culture, was surrounded by a fence, and, having been left to itself, has now the appearance of a neglected park. A building was erected in its centre as a lodge, and the grounds were interspersed with stables and sheep houses. The park was stocked with an Arabian stallion and a few mares, and some Asiatic camels ; and these were left to breed and live in a state of nature. About the beginning of the present century a flock of Merino sheep was added. The horses have formed themselves into distinct tribes or troops, each of fifteen or twenty mares governed by a stallion. These tribes never mix together, each has its quarter of pasture which they divide among themselves without the interference of shepherds. The shape of these horses is wretched, and the spare or superfluous ones are sold only to fuel-drivers (coalmen, carbonari) and the post. There are more than two hundred camels which associate together, and multiply at pleasure. They are worked in the plough and cart, and the spare stock supplies all the mountebanks of Europe, who buy them at the low price of six or seven louis each. The next feature of this establishment is a herd of 1800 wild bulls and cows, fierce and dangerous: the superfluous stock of these is either bunted and killed for their hides and flesh, or sold alive to the farmers to be fed or worked. The flock of Merinos are but lately introduced. Such are the chief features of this establishment, which Chateauvieux terms a specimen of Tatar culture. It is evident it has no other art or merit than that of allowing the powers and instincts of nature to operate in their own way; and it forms a very singular contrast to the highly artificial state of rural economy in Tuscany.
SUBSECT. 3. Of the Agriculture of the Maremmes, or the District of Pestilential Air. 298. The erlent of this district is from Leghorn to Terracina in length; and its widest part is in the states of the church ; it includes Rome, and extends to the base of the Apennines.
299. The climate of the maremmes is so mild that vegetation goes on during the whole of the winter ; but so pestilential that there are scarcely any fixed inhabitants in this immense tract of country, with the exception of those of the towns or cities on its borders.
300. The surface is flat or gently varied ; and the soil in most places deep and rich. In the maremmes of Tuscany it is in some places a blue clay abounding in sulphur and alum, and produces almost nothing but coltsfoot (Tussilago).
301. The estates are generally extensive, and let in large farms, at fixed rents, to men of capital. The maremmes of Rome, forty leagues in extent, are divided into a few hundred estates only, and let to not more than eighty farmers. These farmers grow corn, and pasture oxen of their own; and in winter they graze the wandering flocks of the mountains of Tuscany and other states at so much a head. The corn grown is chiefly wheat, which is reaped by peasants from the mountains, some of whom also stay
and assist in sowing the succeeding crop; after which the whole disappear, and the
S02. The agricultural implements and operations differ little from those of other parts
trenches four feet
deep, into which stones
been originally designed by the celebrated Michael Angelo, in his quality of engineer and wheeler. (See Lasteyrie, Col. des Mach.)
303. The farm of Campo Morto (field of death) includes the whole property of St. Peter's
and five large rooms, the latter without windows, and unfurnished. The first story consists of six rooms, used as corn-chambers, with the exception of one, which was furnished, and served to lodge the principal officers. The two wings cuantaised large vaulted stables, with hay-lofts over. One female lived in the house, in order to cook for the officers or upper servants, whose wires and families
live in the towns as do those of the shepherds. There was no garden, nor any appearance of neatness or cleanliness, and not a fence or a hedge, and scaredy a tree on the whole farm.
35. The fattore, er steward, was an educated man, and a citizen of Rome, where his family lived; he
50. The Corn is threshed ifteen days after being cut: the grain is trodden out under the feet of horser,
suffered to be dispersed by the wind, but it is Dor collected in heaps at regular distances over the country, and always on eminences: there it lies ready to be banned on tbe approach of "those clouds of grashoppers which often devastate the whole of this country." 16 The live stock of the farm consisted of a hundred working oxen; several hundreds of wild cows and bulls, kept for maintaining the stock, and for the sale of their calves and heifers; two thousand swine, which are fatted upon nuts and acorns in the forests belonging to the estate; and a hundred horses for the use of the herdsmen. There were four thousand sheep on the low grounds, and six hundred and eighty thousared on the mountains belonging to the estate of the latter, eighty thousand were of the Negretti breed, whose wool it was intended to have manufactured into the dresses of all the mendicant monks in Italy, and into the great coats of the shepherds: the rest were of the Pouille breed, which produces a white wool, bet cely on the upper part of the body. As mutton is not good in Italy, and but little
eaten, they kill most of the tup-lambs as soon as they are born, and
milk the cwes to make cheese. The temporary focks had not arrived when Chateauvieux was at Campo Morto, the fields not being then cleared of their crops.
909. The farmer of this erlensive domain is M. Trucci, who pays a rent for it of 92,000 piastres (49502.). This, said M. Trucci to Chateauvieux,“ supposes an extent of three thousand rubbi, or six thousand acres, of culturable land. I have nearly as
much that is not fit for the plough, and it is there my pigs and my cows principally feed. My three thousand rubbi are divided into nearly nine equal parts of three hundred and thirty rubbi each: one of these is in fallow, another in corn, and the seven others in pasture. On the two thousand three hundred rubbi, which remain in grass, I support four thousand sheep, four hundred horses, and two hundred oxen, and I reserve a portion for hay. In the macchie (bushy places, woody wastes) I have seven hundred cows, and sometimes nearly two thousand pigs.
810. My expenses “ are limited to paying the rent of the farm, to purchasing bread for the workmen, and to the entire maintenance of my army of shepherds, superintendents, and the fattore ; to paying for the work of the day-labourers, of the harvest-men, &c. ; and, in short, to the expense of moving the flocks, and to what, in large farms, are called the extra-charges, the amount of which is always very high. There must also be deducted from the gross profits of the flock about one tenth, which belongs, in different proportions, to my chiefs and to my shepherds, because I support this tenth at my expense. We have also, in this mode of culture, to sustain great losses on our cattle, notwithstanding which I must acknowledge that our farming is profitable.
311. Of annual profit “ I average above five thousand piastres, besides five per cent on the capital of my flocks. You see, then, that the lands in the Campagna of Rome, so despised, and in such a state of wildness, let at the rate of eighteen francs (tifteen shillings) the Paris acre: there is an immense quantity in France which does not let for so much. They would, doubtlessly, let for more if they were divided and peopled, but not in the proportion supposed : for the secret in large farms consists in their economy; and nothing on the subject of agricultural profit is so deceptive as the appearance they present to our view, for the profit depends solely on the amount of the economical combinations, and not on the richness of the productions displayed to the eye." (Letters on Italy.)
SUBSECT. 4. Of Farming in the Neapolitan Territory, or the Land of Ashes. 312. The farming on the volcanic soil, in the neighbourhood of Vesuvius, belongs to the valley farming of Tuscany ; but, as it varies a little, and as the farmers are much more wretched, we shall give the following relation, as received by Chateauvieux from a Neapolitan metayer :
313. We, poor metayers, he said, “ occupy only so much land as we can cultivate by our own families, that is to say, four or five acres.
Our condition is not a good one, since we get for our trouble only a third of the produce, two thirds belonging to the owner, which we pay in kind into the hands of the steward. We have no ploughs, and the whole is cultivated by the spade. It is true that the soil, being mixed with ashes, is easily stirred; and even our children assist us in this work. At times the mountain, hence named Vesuvius, pours forth showers of ashes, which spread over our fields and fertilise them.
314. The trees which you see on the land, “are not without their use; they support the vine, and give us fruit ; we also carefully gather their leaves : it is the last autumnal crop, and serves to feed our cattle in the winter. We cultivate, in succession, melons, between the rows of elms, which we carry to the city to sell ; after which we sow wheat. When the wheat crop is taken off, we dig in the stubble, which is done by our families, to sow beans or purple clover. During six months, our children go every morning to cut a quantity of it with the sickle, to feed the cows. We prefer the females of the buffaloes, as they give most milk. We have also goats, and sometimes an ass, or a small horse, to go to the city and carry our burthens; but this advantage belongs only to the richer metayers.
315. We plant the maize “the following spring, after clover or beans. We manure the land at this time, because this plant is to support our families ; this crop, therefore, interests us more than all the others, and the day in which it is harvested is a day of festivity in our country. All the villagers assemble together, the young women dance, and the rest of us walk slowly, being laden with our tools : arrived at our dwellings, each family goes into its own ; but they are so near each other, that we can still converse together.
316. We often gather seven ears from one stalk of maize, “ and many of them are three palms long. When the sun is high, the father of the family goes into the adjoining field to get some melons, while the children gather fruit from the surrounding fig trees. The fruit is brought under an elm tree, round which the whole family sits; after this repast the work begins again, and does not cease until the close of day. Each family then visits its neighbours, and tells of the rich crop the season has bestowed upon them.
317. We have no sooner gotten in the maize than the earth is again dug, to be sown once more with wheat ; after this second crop, we grow in the fields only vegetables of different kinds. Our lands thus produce wine and fruit, corn and vegetables, and leaves and grass for the cattle. We have no reason to complain of their fertility: but our conditions are
hard, little being left for our pains; and if the season is not propitious, the metayer has much to complain of." (Letters on Italy.)
918. The cotton plant (Gossýpium herbàceum) (fig. 40.) is beginning to be cultivated in the neighbourhood of Vesuvius, and in Sicily. It is sown
*319. The tomato, or love apple (Solanum Lycopersicum L.),
320. The orange, lemon, peach, fig, and various other fruits, are grown in the Neapolitan territory, both for home use and exportation : but their culture we consider to belong to gardening.
s21. The Neapolitan maremmes, near Salerno, to the evils of those of Rome, add that of a wretched soil. They are pastured by a few herds of buffaloes and oxen ; the berdsmen of which have no other shelter during the night than reed huts; these desert tracts being without either houses or ruins. The plough of this ancient Greek colony is thought to be the nearest to that of Greece, and has been already adverted to (31.).
S22. The manna, a concrete juice, forms an article of cultivation in Calabria. This sabstance is nothing more than the exsiccated juice of the flowering ash tree (O'rnus rotundifolia), which grows there wild in abundance. In April or May, the peasants make one or two incisions in the trunk of the tree with a hatchet, a few inches deep; and insert a reed in each, round which the sap trickles down: after a month or two they return, and find this reed sheathed with manna. The use of manna, in medicine, is on the decline.
323. The filberts and chestnuts of the Calabrian Apennines are collected by the farmers, and sold in Naples for exportation or consumption.
324. The culture of indigo and sugar was attempted in the Neapolitan territory, under the reign of Murat. The indigo succeeded; but sufficient time had not elapsed to judge of the sugar culture when it was abandoned. The plants, however, grew vigorously, and their remains may still (1819) be seen in the fields near Terracina.
325 Oysters have been bred and reared in the kingdom of Naples from the time of the Romans. The subject is mentioned by Nonnius (De Reb. Cib., 1. iii. c. 37.); and by
Pliny (Nat. Hist., b. xviii
. c. 54.). Count Lasteyrie (Col. des Mach.) describes the place mentioned by the latter author, as it now exists in the Lake Facino, at Baia. This lake (fg. 11.) communicates with the sea by a narrow passage. On the water near its margin,