Ventura — Agriculture in Fascist Umbria   Leave a comment

This short monograph, unfortunately published only in Italian, discusses the the plight of the small farmer in the Italian region of Umbria during Fascism (1921-1943). The title, Agricoltura e condizione contadina in Umbria durante il fascismo (Agriculture and the Condition of the Farmer in Umbria during Fascism), belies an attention to more than simply the state of agriculture. Ventura explores how fascism sought to reverse the gains of the so-called Red Biennio of 1919-1920. Absentee landlords of large tracts of Umbrian land were among the most fervent supporters of the Fascist regime, which turned back the clock on the reforms in sharecropping contracts won during that period.

The "vite maritata," a grapevine trained up an elm tree, example of the so-called "coltura promiscua" (mixed farming).

Ventura also discusses the intentional cultivation by the Fascist regime of the “green Umbria” identity. The extension of cultivation into relatively marginal areas (the sides of the Umbrian Apennines, marshland) was a testament not to the region’s fertility, but rather to a “long, slow, tenacious centuries-old struggle to win land to cultivate from the swamps and forests.” Umbria remained “backwards” agriculturally even after the war: instead of monocultures of grapes and olives, the “mixed farming” (coltura promiscua) of grapevines trained up trees interplanted with grain and legumes persisted into the 1950s. Ventura concludes that the sharecropping system disappeared not so much because of reform but because of technological advances (the tractor) and industrialization in the post-war period.  (Gli Annali della Università per Stranieri, 1991)  ZN

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Posted December 20, 2010 by zachmon in Uncategorized

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