CENTRO DELLE TRADIZIONI POPOLARI E CONTADINE DI GARAVELLE
We will grow again the “mela del castagno”, the cotton lavander and the viper’s bugloss, we will look for other fruit plants in order to sow them, the hens will keep on sleeping over the plants and laying their eggs around, the spiders will keep on spinning their webs and bringing good luck, the roses of San Lorenzo will keep on perfuming the house and our dishes, the fireplace will always be lit, we will listen to the music of the fire and we will tell the stories of the rebels of the mountain, the oven will be lit in order to make the chestnut cake and the mustard, in the orchard there will be tomatoes and stinging nettle, we will prune the vineyard and we will make wine, we will put food for the great tits and the beech marten we will prepare fruit baskets and we will taste the muscatel, we will dwell in the shadows of the great oak and we will remember…
Livio Dalla Ragione
0758520656 / 0758554202
Centro delle Tradizioni Popolari e Contadine – Garavelle 0758552119
Centro delle Tradizioni Popolari di Garavelle
The Marquis Gioacchino Capelletti, alleged descendant of Juliet Capulet, was born in Rieti on 1876. Since he was a small boy, Capelletti was extremely fond of cars and of hobby modeling: this particular passion brought him to be the only creator of the models guarded in the model train collection of Villa Garavelle in Città di Castello. The Villa, residence of Marquis Capelletti, was recorded in the historical maps of the town since the Renaissance period as property of Cardinal Vitelli, an important member of the highest-ranking family in Città di Castello at that time, the Vitellis. The Vitelli family built a large number of palaces in Città di Castello, making it the only town in Umbria with examples of Renaissance style architecture. The Villa is intended since 1963 to guard the model train collection of Marquis Capelletti, which is unmatched with regard to the rigorous reconstruction of its models.
A figure of vital importance for the museum was Livio Dalla Ragione, the creator of the “Centro delle Tradizioni Popolari” of Garavelle.
Livio was born in Pieve Santo Stefano in the province of Arezzo and he moved to Città di Castello with his family as a child. When he was around twenty years of age, during the Second World War, he led a group of partisans. During this particular period, he grew progressively attached to the rural world, especially to the female peasants who helped the partisans through the hard times. After the war he moved to Rome where he opened an art studio.
Suddenly, though, he interrupted his artistic career, refusing this phase of his life, going as far as burning down the majority of his works.
The great attachment to his roots, his origins and the need of a simpler world led him,during the Sixties, to come back to his hometown in San Lorenzo near Lerchi. The study of the traditions and the need to save a culture passed down only orally through the generations, gave him the inspiration and the determination to create the “Centro di Garavelle” as a place where to share with the future generations the wisdom and the values of the rural culture.
The visit starts outdoors at the barn, where all the agricultural tools and equipments are being kept, including:
- The “trebbiatrice” (threshing machine): its construction dates back to the second half of the XIX century. The machine is steam powered by a furnace and a boiler, whichset in motion the bull wheels through an extremely robust transmission belt. The peasants helped each other through the threshing process and the only reward for the hard work was a traditional meal named “pranzo della battitura”.
With the “pranzo della battitura” the peasants used to celebrate the prosperity of the resting period that came after the completion of the summer harvest: it was composed of “tagliatelle” al “sugo d’oca”; roast; “torcolo” and “vinsanto” (holy wine).
- “Treggia”: Mean of transport without wheels comparable to a sleigh. It was skillfully realized assembling togethervarious pieces of wood; and it was normally used in order to travel or transporting goods through the bumpy roads, where normal carts with wheels couldn’t function properly; an example is the forest land where the lumberjacks used it in order to transport the cut trees.
It could be equipped with a “ciovea”, a basket made out of woven willow branches, whose purpose was that of carrying smaller amounts of agricultural products such as forage or vegetables.
- “Capannello”: a particular basket with a top opening and two long handles, used in order to transport the hens and their chicks. It was also used as an incubator, a safe place where the hens could hatch their eggs.
- The “aratro” (ploughs), were used in order to work the land. The peasants skillfully created them by themselves out of oak wood. Out of all the various models the most ingenious one was the “voltarecchio”, whose name derives by the fact that it could plough the dirt from left to right. The term used in order to designate the mould board (the component of the plough that cuts through the ground) is “orecchio” (which literally means ear in Italian).
Next to the barn is the tobacco drier, namely the place where the precious tobacco leaves harvested in the plantations owned by Marquis Capelletti where hung out to dry to the heat generated by a fire.The function of this particular building is highlighted by the many chimneys located on the roof whose purpose was that of letting the smoke out.
In front of the farmhouse is the farmyard, an open space where most of the activities related to the life dynamics in the farmhouse. Here the peasants used to place the heaps of reaped wheat (also known as “barcone”) and other products such as corn, chickpeas, and beans, before their storage.
Next to the farmhouse is a small vegetable garden where the peasants used to plant vegetables and aromatic herbs.
In front of the vegetable garden are located the water tanks. These particular structures collected the water originating from a nearby water spring. The water was then used for the plantations and the animals.
The visit continues on the ground floor of the farmhouse.
Here are kept some tools that the peasants needed in order to work the land, such as scythes, sickles, billhooks and hoes.
The collection includes the following items:
- The “carriola” (wheelbarrow), used by the peasant women in order to bring the laundry to the river Tiber, where they could rinse it. During summer, they used to hang the clean laundry to dry on the hedges, while during the winter they used to put it on the tobacco kiln. They did the laundry only once a month,in order to avoid excessive consumption of the fabrics.
- The “portacote”, is a hollow bovine horn used as a tool to carry around the “cote”, a small oblong-shaped rock normally used as a sickle sharpener. The peasants used to hang the “portacote” on their belt.
- The “erpice”, is a tool used in order to prepare the soil for the sowing process, loosening up its upper layer. It is normally used after the plough, since the latter goes deeper into the soil.
The stable was the place where the oxen were kept. It was situated in the rooms below the kitchen, so as to benefit from the heath produced by the animals.The slightly inclined floor made out of stones from the river Tiber, along with the drainpipes, was deliberately constructed in order to ease the removal the animal droppings from the stable.
- The “giogo” (yoke), was used in order to attach a pair of oxen to the various tools for the field work. It was made out of wood shaped as a double collar. The yoke was connectable to tools such as carts or ploughs through a ring shaped pin, where the drawbar could be easily inserted.
- The “svezzatoio”, is a small collar equipped with sharp iron rivets. It was used in order to facilitate the weaning process of the calves. The “svezzatoio” was put directly on the muzzle of the calves, so that whenever the little beasts wanted to breastfeed they stung their mothers; the cows usually responded to the pain rejecting their spawn. For the hungry calves then, there was nothing left to do but start eating solid food.
- The “boccaglio”, is a metallic net that was put on the muzzle of animals such as horses or oxen when they worked in the fields. This particular tool prevented the beasts from eating the grass, actually keeping them from getting distracted during their working time.
- The “battitore” was used in order to separate the wheat from the chaff, before the invention of the modern threshing machines occurred. This particular tool was made out of two pieces of wood that were connected through a leather strap, so that the smaller piece of wood could rotate easily.
- The “trinciaforaggio” was a tool used in order to chop the fodder for the cattle. In the stable are displayed three different models of “trinciaforaggio” from different time periods, from the most outdated one, to the most recent mechanized version.
- The “gerla” is a big wooden basket that was used in order to transport hens, chickens, and rabbits. These particular containers were then firmly fixed to the “basto” (a wooden saddle often used on working animals such as donkeys or mules) in order to be transported.
- The “caniccia” was a basket made out of weaved reed. The peasants used to carry it on their shoulders in order to transport the fodder from the fields to the stable.
In the next room are displayed the different presses that were used for the production of wine; the most rare and ancient models are the horizontal screw presses. The pumps on the top shelves were used in order to spray substances such as verdigris and surplus on the grapevines, preventing them from getting sick.
The cellar is recognizable by the dirt floor, which guarantees an appropriate temperature for the conservation of wine and “vinsanto”. In the cellar are currently displayed equipments used in wine production such as barrels, “caratelli”, jugs, tanks and funnels.
- “Caratelli” for the “vinsanto”. Traditionally the “vinsanto” was produced harvesting the best grapes, which then were hung out to wither on the kitchen beams using strings and nails.To ensure that the grapes would not rot, it was fundamental for all these operations to be conducted on the waning moon.The withered grapes were then pressed, and the must was poured in the “caratello” used for the previous production of “vinsanto”. During this operation the winemaker payed particular attention for the lees (the residuals that the “vinsanto” of the previous production left on the bottom of the tank) not to come out from the “caratello”, since they were thought to beimportant for the maturation of this particular wine: crucial enough to call them “madre del vinsanto” (literally “mother of the vinsanto”).
In this room were reconstructed all the equipments that were needed for the production of olive oil including: a perfectly preserved oil mill that dates back to the 18th century, whose massive millstone was animal-drawn; two wooden presses; the “cassettone” (a tool that was used in order to filter the raw olive oil produced by the mill); the fireplace; and all the tools that were used in order to draw the oil from the decanting container.
The visit continues upstairs.
The kitchen was the most important place in the farmhouse: here is where the patriarchal family used to gather around the fireplace (which is still stained and blackened by the smoke) when the working day would end.The presence of an oven inside the room is at least singular, since in most of the farmhouses it was located outdoors.
- “Scina” or “bucataro”. Both terms referred to a big terracotta container that was used for laundry. The “scina” or “bucataro” was normally positioned near the fireplace, so as to be near to a source of hot water. The laundry was put directly inside the container, adding some ash and homemade soap made out of caustic soda and animal/vegetable fat.The ash, whichwas used because of its fat-removing effects, was filtered through the “cenerone”, a cloth that was put right over the laundry. Some boiling water was then poured right over the laundry. The residual filtered liquid, named “lisciva” or “ranno”, came out of the small hole at the bottom of the “scina”. The “ranno” was then used as a floor cleaner, or to wash the children’s hair as a disinfectant for lice.
- The “madia”, is the piece of furniture where bread and other baked goods were prepared and stored.To knead the bread dough, the peasants mixed together flour, sourdough starter, and water on the counter. The leavened dough was thenbaked in the wood-fired oven. The “buratto”, is a type of “madia” equipped with a grind in order to separate the flour from the bran.The bread was baked only once a week. The stale bread wasn’t thrown away, since during winter the peasants used to prepare with it the “pappa” (stale bread cooked in boiling broth or soup), while during summer they prepared the “panzanella” (soaked stale bread mixed with fresh vegetables such as tomatoes, onions, and cucumbers, and dressed with salt, vinegar, and olive oil).
- The “panaro” was a flat and smooth hot plate made out of stone which was put right over the ember in order to bake the “ciaccia sul panaro”, a traditional dish of the Upper Tiber Valley. The “ciaccia”, a bread substitute, was faster to prepare then bread, since it was unleavened.
- The “brocche” (copper jugs) were used in order to draw water from the well or from the nearby water springs, since rarely a farmhouse was equipped with running water.
- The “tostaorzo”, was a tool used in order to toast the barley right over the fire, before grinding it with the “macinino”.
- The “togli-ricci” was used in order to separate the chestnuts from the burrs: the iron blades opened the burrs, while the wooden handle prevented the peasants from being prickled by its thorns.
This particular tool was extremely useful, since chestnuts were an integral part both of the peasants’ diet, and of economy of the Upper Tiber Valley; the flour derived from the chestnut was in fact used as a substitute of wheat flour, which was more expensive and not always available.
- The “sgrana-pannocchie”, was a wooden blade used in order to shuck corncobs. Even the children carried out this simple activity in the evening while they listened to stories and anecdotes by the fireplace.
In this small room are displayed the tools that the women used for their sewing activities, such as the “cuscino da tombolo”, a fundamental tool for the production of fine lace fabric. In the cabinet are displayed all the photos that the family that used to live in this farmhouse could afford to take.The decoration of the shelves inside the cabinet are made out of paper cut to resemble lace, since the peasants could not afford to buy actual lace fabric.
- The “tabarro” or “faraiolo”, is a men’s cloak which was normally used during winter. This woolen garment came mostly in black,
The furniture decorating this particular room is quite simple, since most of the family used to spend the night here. On the coat rack are displayed the clothes which were normally used by the peasants at the beginning of the last century. These garments are heavily patchedsince the peasants could not afford more than two or three changes of clothes.
- The bed is made out of wrought iron and decorated plates. On the nightstands are displayed some religious icons, demonstrating the family’s strong faith in the Catholic Church. The mattress, also known as “saccone”, because of its sack-like form, was filled with corn leaves (“puliche”).
- The “arcuccio” was a ingenious object, used as a barrier in order to protect newborn babies from harms such as insects or heavy blankets. It was made out of twigs and sticks appropriately assembled together.
- The “prete”, is a wooden bed warmer, quite a useful tool, especially during the long winter nights. The heath generated by the “prete” was provided by the “monaca”, a container filled with smoldering embers, which were often covered with a layer of ash, so as not to produce smoke and, more importantly, to prevent eventual fires.
- Inside the crib are displayed the “fasce” (swaddling clothes). During the first half of the last century, to wrap newborn babies in these particular garments in order to strengthen and straighten their bones was still a common practice, especially among the peasants.
- The “girello” (baby walker) was quite a useful tool to the housewives, since it allowed the toddlers to walk around the house and prevented them from getting into any kind of trouble. It was even equipped with a small food tray. The kids could also dispose of a “seggiolino” (baby chair), which was equipped with a baby potty.
In this room are located some of the tools that the peasants needed in order to carry out activities such as carpentry or blacksmithing in the wintertime, when they could not work the land.
Among the above-mentioned equipment are a “fucina” (forge), an “incudine” (anvil), a pair of bellows, and a “macina” (grindstone). In this room are also displayed the milkman’s bicycle; the tanner’s bicycle; and the laundress’ bicycle: all dating back to the beginning of the 20th century.
The tour continues on the second floor, reachable from the staircase behind the bedroom.
Cobbler’s Workshop (on the left)
In this room are displayed some of the tools that the cobblers used in order to produce or repair shoes and “zoccoli” (clogs). A clog was a particular kind of shoe or sandal with a thick wooden sole, which was often strengthened with metal inserts.
Here are also displayed other objects such as:
- “Catrappola”:This term indicates a mouse trap.
- “Taglione” (leg hold traps):Traps often used as a protection against dangerous animals such as wolves or foxes.
- “Campanacci” (neck bells): for animals such as oxen or goats.
Granary (on the right)
Here are displayed some tools and machines which were used for the production of hemp textiles such as looms, “filaretti”, “navette”, spools, “aspi”, spindles, and spinning wheels.
- The “arcolaio” (spinning wheel) is a simple tool, and it was used in order to turn the skeins of yarn into balls.
- The “filatoio”, also known as “filatoro” was used in order to turn the textile fiberinto yarn.
- The “gramola”, also known as “maciulla”, was a machine which was used in order to separate the textile fiber from the wood fiber. The name “gramola” is due to the fact that the sound produced by this particular machine was very similar to that of croaking frogs.
The granary was considered as the most ventilated and the driest place in the farmhouse: a perfect location for the storage of wheat and other grain species. Here are display some machines for grain processing such as the “bascola”, the grinder, and the “crivello”.
- The “crivello”, also known as “gigliara”, was used in order to separate the wheat seeds from the leaves and any other kind of impurities. It hanged from the ceiling. This particular tool was also used for other products such as beans and chickpeas.
The “Salata” Room
In this small room was organized a typical “salata” room. “Salata” is an italian term designating the process of curing meat.
Here are displayed all the tools needed for processing pig meat: from the slaughtering to the butchering.
- The “coratoio” was a very sharp knife used in order to slaughter the pigs. The use of the “coratoio” was a prerogative only of the best butchers, since only they knew how to kill the beasts at one stroke, avoiding them unnecessary suffering.
- The “battilarda”, was a cutting board used in order to cut pork lard; this particular kind of fat was used in order to add flavor to the meat dishes or to preserve the food. When melted at high temperature it was used as a deep to frying oil, since it was way cheaper than extra virgin olive oil.
- The “insaccatrice”, was used in order to stuff the grind meat needed for preparation of products such as “salame”, “salsicce”, “mazzafegati” into some previously cleaned and prepared pork guts, the “sack”, hence the name “insaccati”, which literally means bagged meat.
 The “meladel Castagno” is a particular variety of apple which is endemic of Città di Castello.
 The “great tit” is a particular species of bird.
 The “beech marten” is a particular species of marten; it looks like a small weasel.
 A traditional dish made out of “tagliatelle” (a particular variety of pasta), and tomato sauce with goose meat.
 A traditional cake, it normally came in the shape of a big donut.
 A very sweet variety of wine made out of dried out grapes. It is normally used as a dessert wine and during the Catholic rites as the wine that symbolizes the blood of Christ, hence the name “vinsanto” (which literally means holy wine).