Italian Allotments

Hi folks, you may have noticed that we went on holiday to Tuscany and I did promise I would try to track down some Italian allotments to have a look at; I checked out a couple of places and I took some photographs.

In Tuscany, certainly in the area we stayed in (the Val D' Orcia), almost all of the towns are totally enclosed or at least include a walled citadel; it also seems that the inhabitants of the towns now put their allotments at the bottom of the City walls, on the outside. Certainly this is the case in Pienza (fig 1) and San Quirico D'Orcia (fig 2) where I took the pictures, but I was also aware when passing other towns that there seemed to be allotments outside of the city walls. In a way it makes sense, the accumulated daytime heat in the walls will help with night time temperatures, also 400 years of rubbish being thrown over the walls must help with the quality of the soil and that's all I am going to say about that subject.

   Figure 1::Pienza    Figure 2:: San Quirico D’Orcia    Figure 3:: Renowned for its beauty     Figure 4::Lovely views  


This area is renowned for its beauty (fig 3) and I found myself when in Pienza thinking how do you concentrate on gardening with such lovely views around (fig 4)? What I did discover however (actually it was Jan who told me) is that a lot of the stunning landscape was actually man made, which makes sense in a way, all those hills with houses on top didn't just happen by accident, however, the evidence is there for all to see in Pienza (fig 5).

      Figure 5::Pienza plaque  


Back to the gardens, the majority of the allotments did not look well tended, planned out or looked after (fig 6, 7 & 8), but I suppose, when you have the weather they have over there you don't have to try too hard.

   Figure 6:: Italian allotments    Figure 7:: Italian allotments    Figure 8::Italian allotments  


The contents were similar (fig 9), but the balance was different; where we may grow lots of potatoes and onions, they were concentrating on tomatoes, courgettes and aubergines (fig 10 & 11).

   Figure 9:: Italian allotments    Figure 10:: Italian allotments    Figure 11::Italian allotments  


Some had grape vines trained over to provide shade; others had olive or fig trees (fig 12, 13, 14).

   Figure 12:: Olive trees for shade    Figure 13:: Fig tree    Figure 14:: Olive and fig trees for shade  


The planting method was slightly different too. Where as we try to keep the soil fairly even and ensure light can reach the plants, they planted for shade, where we might make a small indentation around the plant to collect water, they really had quite large indentations to collect their precious water resource (fig 15&16), perhaps we will need to follow their example in the future.

   Figure 15::Water indentation    Figure 16:: Water indentation  


   Figure 17::Vegetable garden    Figure 18:: Vegetable garden  

Of course, there is always one example that flouts the norm and I found it, not far from where we were staying. Pictures (fig 17 & 18 ) were taken from the road, they are of a newly laid out vegetable garden which is adjoined to an agroturismo villa, I think it caters for about 12 or 16 people and provides food. Anyway, that's my allotment report from Tuscany; look out for the June update coming soon to the website.