Traces of agricultural civilization in Tuscany: Métayer system.
Reportage made in 1976, in fifty b / w by Pier Nello Manoni, with commentary on texts by Elda Torres.
Pier Nello Manoni, Il podere a Mezzadria, n. 1., 1976, Copyright Pier Nello Manoni
11 December 2021
17:00 – 21:00
Rome time

The fifty images, made in Tuscany by Pier Nello Manoni in 1976, testify what remained of the peasant civilization at the time of its dissolution.
The Mezzadria, born in the Middle Ages, regulated the agricultural system in central Italy until the 1970s. After supporting the economy for about a thousand years, it was now in total decline.
The owner granted the colonist a farmhouse and a land to cultivate. The contract divided the farm products in half but also the losses which in practice weighed much more on the weaker party, on the farmer. Management, administration and most of the profits remained in the hands of the owner.
Manor houses, now in ruins, reveal great architectural civilization and purity of style in the taste of the Renaissance. Even the farmhouses have a very decent structure, often with arches and loggias. By contract, maintenance was the responsibility of the owner but in reality it often turned out to be the responsibility of the settler. On the external walls present the restorative and transformative interventions that have occurred, implemented with terracotta artifacts or materials at hand such as field or river stones. The interiors showed the signs of attempts to transition to modernity; from the archaic phase with the large fireplace, where they cooked, to the economic kitchen, from the ancient walled sink to more streamlined structures.
The modernization of the agricultural system in Italy began in the early decades of the twentieth century, before then everything was based on the fatigue of the arms. After the Second World War the process intensified and agricultural machinery spread throughout the national territory. The peasant world still contributed a quarter to the wealth of the country while the human strength employed progressively decreased compared to the previous decades.
Peasant revolts had broken out in the first decades of the twentieth century, the Leagues that had formed were then dissolved by Fascism. In 1950 a new land reform also involved the Mezzadria system but on the whole the farmers saw disappointed the hope of improving the quotas due to them. Thus riots broke out between the 1950s and 1960s. The writings on the walls testify to this phase, before the abandonment of the countryside and urbanization. Abandoned the farms, the rural masses became urban and workers.
The peasants left remains, footprints, traces of their existence, of their activity in the fields and in the now empty colonies. Agricultural machinery, the many tools and implements of the trade, everyday tools. Finally, the country cemeteries where the graves of both the master and the colonists were located. Signs of the difference in class remained: masonry chapels for the former and poor gravestones suspended from the wall for the latter.
(Elda Torres)

Il Cappello di feltro
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Vicolo Leonori Cecina n.1, 56048, Volterra, PI, Italy