I have been traveling around Italy this past month, and in spite of all the great museums, artwork, and historic structures that are pretty much everywhere I look, the little gardening efforts of regular folks are what draws my attention the most.
|Looking WAY down on a small veggie garden in Chianciano.|
When we have been zooming along in buses, I see a lot of larger gardens that are absolutely amazing, but I have not had a good way to take pictures. In smaller towns, though, especially in non-tourist areas, little food gardens are fairly easy to spot.
Hilltop towns like Chianciano are steep-sided, so I have had to lean out over walls to take pictures of the gardens (Joe makes sure that I am leaning safely!). They almost all include a few grape vines and an olive tree or two!
Other residents don’t have any bare ground for growing anything. One way they make up for that lack is by hanging planters on the walls and then filling them with flowers and herbs. I’ve seen a few hanging containers with strawberries trailing out of them.
Another hilltop town called Sinalunga has a suburban area on flatter ground outside the walls of the city, and Joe & I saw MANY little food gardens there. It was interesting to see that even small gardens here are planted in rows, while many small gardens in Georgia are planted in blocks, using intensive spacing.
I do not yet know whether the large number of gardens represents tradition or if it reflects on the local tax structure. One Italian guy we met, who had lived in Louisiana for many years, said that taxes here are nearly 60%. Even though that high taxation covers social programs like healthcare, that tax rate could encourage food-growing, since food you grow is not taxed. Every vegetable and bit of olive oil and wine that is produced at home could be seen as un-taxable income. That particular motivation is referred to by some gardeners I’ve known as “sticking it to the man”.
Regardless of the reasons for their existence, all those little food gardens make me smile. Hope that all the gardens back home are doing well, in spite of the super-abundant rainfall of the past several weeks!