The image of the Tuscan countryside in the world is entrusted to the archetype of its landscape. In this case the literary images, from the “Grand Tour” to contemporary tourists settling or spending their vacations in Tuscany, have superimposed themselves on the real landscapes.

In this regard it can really be argued that the Tuscan countryside represents the ideal harmonious landscape. It has its roots in the municipal revival of the Middle Ages which leads to the affirmation above all of Pisa, Florence and Siena. Then the Renaissance sublimated its features, crystallizing them in absolute beauty.

However, the balanced humanization of the landscape originates from the typical Tuscan countryside sharecropping farming system. Sharecropping also made it necessary to build farmhouses scattered in the Tuscan countryside. Each farmhouse was generally intended for 1 or 2 families albeit large they might be. Each farmhouse had a limited number of hectares of land to toil. So the distance between one house and another was never excessive. At the same time, there was never the risk of overcrowding houses but everything was well harmonized in the Tuscan countryside which was available.

This has made possible over the years the recovery of almost all the farmhouses for first or second homes. There are many foreign tourists (in particular English and Germans) who live permanently in the Tuscan countryside. Actually in Tuscany there was a real boom in holiday farms or agritourisms between 90s and 00s.

The agritourism is a form of tourism linked to the permanence in farms. It is a tourism in venues usually much smaller than real hotels. However the services offered are similar and the rural areas particularly pleasant. The Tuscan countryside in the Chianti area and around Siena no longer show availability of farmhouses to restore.

Anyone wishing to still make some good farmhouse real estate business can certainly think of Mugello. Proximity to Florence, direct access to the A1, Bologna airport at 45 minutes, Pisa at 50 and Florence Peretola at 20 plus still low prices. mailto: will be happy to provide information on some interesting farmhouses in the Mugello valley. Also for a farm holiday in Mugello you can consult this page of our site  questa pagina del nostro sito.

The Cascina in Northern Italy

The farmstead cascina system in Northern Italy and the latifundium in southern Italy have produced different landscape effects. The farmhouse in the Po and Lombard plain in particular was a huge farm. It was entrusted with a range of 30-70 hectares and in some cases even 100 hectares of fields to cultivate. In the farmhouse there were ovens, wells, stables, barns, warehouses, dairies, mills and peasant dwellings condensed into a single giant venue.

The farmhouses are located scattered in the countryside, several kilometers away from the villages and between them. The structure of this building is quadrangular. At its center is the courtyard around which the various agricultural buildings are located.The courtyard functioned as a threashing floor, a barnyard and a public square. In larger farms you can also see two or three courtyards.  Under certain circumstances the larger farms also have the tavern and a small church. In more rare cases the larger farms even had a school.

The Masseria in Southern Italy

The latifundium or large estate system in southern Italy saw a short feudal pyramidal structure. At the top there was usually an owner from the aristocracy. Other types of landowners could be lawyers, notaries, bankers and churchmen.

Immediately after, but at a considerable distance, followed the farmer and finally the day laborers, the poorest. So in the countryside around the various villages, there were only a few farms. This is also the charm of southern Italy where these “Masserie” have been tirned into lavish holiday resorts. The farms were entrusted by the owners to the massari the heads of the wage earners.

In the farms there were mainly labourers, recruited at dawn on the squares of the villages by the massari. In the evening the massari distributed a scant pay to the paysants.

The masseria farm is the fruit and example of the baronial colonization of vast inland areas of the South. These areas were abandoned and uncultivated in the years between the 16th and 18th centuries. At the time there was a strong need for cereals. Thus the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, Spanish dominion, granted to nobles and notables to repopulate the territory

The farmer was the essential element of this fundamental structure of the rural world. This was the figure around which the entire organizational and productive life of the farm was centred. He could have been a simple tenant and, in this case, he paid a rent to the owner. More often he was the sole responsible of the management of the farm on behalf of the nobleman or the ecclesiastic on duty.

 In the last century we had two types of “massaro”: the “field massaro” and the “sheep massaro”. The former played a pivotal role between the large landowners, who invested them with important responsibilities in running their own farms, and the peasants. The latter instead dedicated themselves to breeding and related activities, such as the production of wool, leather and cheese. Over time, the term massaro was also applied to the small-scale farmer owner and the trade master.

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