Index Museo Civico

The peasant world

For centuries, the predominent economic activity in the Tolfa Hills, at least in terms of the the number of people involved, has been agriculture. Despite the various changes in the regimes that have controlled the area over the centuries, it has always been the main source of income for Tolfa’s people. Between the 11th and 14th centuries, the monasteries, convents and churches played an important role, becoming the owners of much of the land and managing it through the labour of local people. Later, the Reverenda Camera Apostolica (the Vatican department that managed the church’s physical assets) recognized the principle, on the lands it controlled,  of the priority and rights of those actually present in the territory. Shortly after that, two agricultural universities, the Boattieri  and the Mosceria were created. (Note: in this context, an “agricultural university” is land held and used in common by farmers). These two universities were later amalgamated into one, the actual Università Agraria that still controls much of the land.  The predominant farming activities for centuries have been the rearing of livestock, production of durum wheat, and viticulture. With regard to this last, viticulture, Tolfa’s people had achieved such renown between the 15th and 16th centuries that both Chiabrera and Redi mention Tolfa wines in their poems. “Some drink Falerno, others Tolfa, and others the blood that are the tears of   Vesuvius...”

F. Redi

“I spur my horse, with loose reins, towards Tolfa, where Bacchus distills manna.”

G. Chiabrera

In recent years, many new vineyards have been planted, particularly in the lower-lying areas near the sea. They produce exellent wines and in the summer months may be drunk or bought in the “fraschetti”. (Note: small wineries that traditionally hung a small branch – “fraschetto” – over their door to indicate that they had wine for sale). The raising of livstock, above all of the Maremmana breed of cattle and of the Tolfa Horse, which has been recognized as an autoctonous breed, is still a major activity in the territory today. It has helped keep the environment intact while also using the woodlands in a way that conserves them as a green lung only a few kilometres from Rome.    In Tolfa’s woodlands, in addition to the normal fauna typical of the area, one can also find: woodcock, partridge, porcupines, birds of prey of many types, including the the Egyptian vulture. There are also nocturnal birds, including   eagle owls, tawny owls, and barn owls. Finally, there are also significant numbers of that king of the Mediterranean scrub, the wild boar, much sought after by the local hunters