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The country at Badia a Settimo 19/01/2011

Posted by florencecapital in Uncategorized.
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c. 1900

Leaving Florence by the Porta S. Frediano we drove about four miles to the ancient Badia a Settimo, famous in the political as well as the religious annals of Tuscany. The peasants were as busy as bees, preparing casks and vats for the vintage, and the universal hammering was quite deafening, mingled with the beating out of the sagina – a kind of millet much grown for making brooms, which are sent by shiploads to England and America. Most beautiful are the fields of the tall sagina; the light green leaves bend gracefully to the breeze, and the loose head of seed falls like a cascade of chestnut-coloured rain from the tops of the slender stems. To English eyes the wealth of grapes appeared incredible, and the colours marvellous. From maple to maple hung long garlands of vines in fantastic shapes, Buon Amico, or ‘good friend’, with large loose bunches of purple-black grapes, Trebbiano, brilliant yellow, with the sunny side stained a deep brown, Uva Grassa, a dull yellow-green, and the lovely Occhio di Pernice, or ‘partridge’s eye’, of a light pink with ruby lines meandering about in every grape, the flavour of which was quite equal to its beauty.

The contadini were much amused at our admiration, and insisted on our tasting the various kinds of grapes. Immense golden pumpkins, melons, water-melons, and scarlet tomatoes were being picked, and on some of the farms the women and children were busily employed in making round cakes of the latter fruit, and drying them in the sun for winter consumption. Outside the windows hung branches of the Acacia horrida, of which the crown of thorns is said to have been made; each long thorn bore a crop of skinned figs, the gelatinous, sweet drops of juice oozing out and congealing in the sun’s rays. On the low walls surrounding the threshing-floors were flat baskets, boards, and plates, covered with split peaches and figs drying in the sun, for the children to eat in winter with their bread.