Georgofili World

Newsletter of the Georgofili Academy


Mediterranean Forum on Water Resources (MFWR), 2015-10-18, 2015-10-22, Matera

“Florence and Exhibitions and Exhibitions in Florence. Agriculture, Science, and Food (1851 – 1911)”, 2015-05-12, 2015-07-28, Firenze

Broom, its use and tradition

Marketing rules for animal products

The landscape of Pompeii and the Vesuvius area during the Roman age

Officinal and aromatic plants in the history of nations

In the past, the term "drug" meant anything that was able to heal. It could be vegetable, animal, mineral substances or incantations, spells, amulets, etc. The essential thing was to escape death. This led to the birth of numerous imaginative practices that only today can be said to have been almost completely abandoned. Speaking of plants,
 the theory of "signatures" is well-known, which tied the plant’s medicinal effectiveness to its outward shape. Because it has lobed leaves with lower face a wine red, Hepatica nobilis was thought to be useful in treating the liver, and so on. Of course, under the congeries of multiform beliefs and information, "reason" gradually succeeded in understanding what could objectively be of use to the patient.


Cocoa, an ancient drug that fights modern "illnesses"

The interest in chocolate comes from the publication by Crichton et al. (Appetite 2016, 100: 126-132), that states the consumption of chocolate is associated with a better cognitive function as well as from the Siena artisanal chocolate festival which takes place in March and lasts five days. For the fifth time, it hosted the most important Italian chocolate manufacturers. This brief article will try recount in general terms the history of chocolate and its nutraceutical functions.
Cocoa (Theobroma cacao L.) is a small tree originally from South America whose 10-15 cm long pods contain some beans. The Maya and Aztec population migrations spread through central America, moreover, considering it the “food of the gods” and using it as divine offerings. These peoples also believed that the plant could grant immortality.

History of Italian agriculture and agricultural landscapes in the late Middle ages

From farm cooperation to territory building: a French case study

Paleosols, soils and climate change

Paleosols are an important source of information for documenting the changes that took place in the past, especially as regards the climate. In addition, they can be used in models that seek to predict how the earth’s system will react in the future to the changing environmental conditions. A central objective of paleopedology is to reconstruct how the climate changed during the geological eras.
A paleosol complex was found at Podere Renieri in Montalcino (Siena). About 40 m thick, it was formed during a series of continental episodes that began after marine sediments were deposited during the Pliocene starting at 4.8 My BP. The paleosol documents climate changes and soil formations that took place since the Lower Pliocene in central Italy, along the Mediterranean coast.
Podere Renieri’s most characteristic soil horizons are those containing plinthite, a partially hardened soil rich in iron whose formation took place in a hot and humid climate over about 700,000 years during the Lower Pliocene. This soil formation was also greatly influenced by the geomorphological position of the paleosol, at that time located on an alluvial fan near the coast. The climate conditions during the Pliocene were much hotter and more humid than nowadays, and the time needed for plinthite formation was rather short, not more than one or two hundred thousand years. Podere Renieri’s morphology of plinthite-containing horizons however shows that from the middle of the Lower Pliocene, rainfall started to give clear signs of seasonality as a result of the onset of a Mediterranean-type climate along the western coast of Italy.

Cosimo Ridolfi (28 November 1794 - 5 March 1865)

This year, 2015, is the 150th anniversary of Cosimo Ridolfi’s death. He became a full Georgofili member at a very young age, in 1813. He was later the secretary of the proceedings, vice-president and then, starting in 1842, president until his death.
Ridolfi was involved in the Academy during the most important decades of the 19th century, when the great events that changed the history of our country took place. He was an authoritative and constant role model, not only more specifically in agronomics (where he was a great innovator), but also in the social, civil and political arenas.
His life was totally dedicated to improving agriculture and agrarian practices. A born educator, he never separated life from experience and education and he fully embodied the spirit of the motto “Prosperitati Publicae Augendae” of the Georgofili Academy, the oldest in the world for agricultural studies.

Saverio Manetti and his treatise “On different wheat species and bread as well as bread-making”

Georgofili member Saverio Manetti, one of the eighteen founders of the Florentine Academy, was among the first who attempted to find a solution to the hunger that followed the terrible, recurrent famines in past centuries, characterized especially by the loss of wheat and thus of the main food, bread.
In his treatise On different wheat species and bread as well as bread-making, published in Florence in 1765, he not only analyzed wheat and its varieties, flour and the bread-making process, different kinds of bread, its other unusual types for packaging, baking, and shape. He also analyzed bread made with flours other than wheat flour, extensively describing the bread’s appetizing effect and the pleasure that gladdened the tables of both the rich and the poor. He finally examined the “faults” of flour and bread, its varieties in other populations, seeds, fruits, and plants suited to making bread when there was a wheat shortage. 

Florence meets Morocco: Jakob Gråberg från Hemsö and the “Antique Mauretania Tingitana”

In 1834 in Genoa, the presses of the Pellas printing works produced theSpecchio geografico, e statistico dell’impero di Marocco by Jakob Gråberg från Hemsö.
The book was dedicated to His Royal and Imperial Highness Leopold II, Grand Duke of Tuscany and summarized, although with additions and notes, the writings previously published in the review Antologia del Vieusseux and the five memoirs that Gråberg had sent to the Georgofili (as a correspondent member) from 1829 to 1833 about the “Ancient Mauretania Tingitana”, that is: Alcuni cenni dell’agricoltura nell’Impero di Marocco (An Outline of Agriculture in the Moroccan Empire), 2 August 1829;   Descrizione dell’aratro di cui si fa uso nell’Impero del Marocco (A Description of the Plough used in the Moroccan Empire), 7 February 1830;  Della pastorizia nell’impero di Marocco (On Sheep Farming in the Moroccan Empire), 7 March 1830; Cenni orografici e geologici dello impero di Marocco (An Orographic and Geologic Outline of the Moroccan Empire), 5 December 1830; Prospetto del commercio del Marocco e sue relazioni con i popoli dell’Italia (Statement on Morocco’s commerce and its relationships with the peoples of Italy), 4 August 1833. 
Gråberg från Hemsö (Gannarve, Sweden 1776-Florence 1847) was a man in and of the world. His vast erudition and voracious “curiosity” spurred him, from an early age, not only to study languages (he knew Greek, Latin, French, English, German, and Italian as well as Arabic to perfection), ancient history, sacred history, geography, statistics, natural history, architecture, mechanics, mathematics, astronomy, but also to embark on a naval career, sailing all the seas and oceans. 
Once he stopped working at sea and settled in Genoa, his experience enabled him to publish a pocket marine dictionary in English and Italian, which was very successful and had numerous reprints in Genoa, Leghorn, Florence and Messina.

"On the utility of a common currency in the various European countries, and the difficulties that stand in the way of its implementation" *1

Though taken for "a utopian dream", Cini wrote, the idea had already been voiced as far back as 1582 by Gasparo Scaruffi from Reggio (1519-1584), who envisaged a single currency in pure gold and silver that could be "compared" to all the existing currencies, so as to overcome the "great confusion" generated by the excess money in circulation at that time *2.  Scaruffi’s proposal however, was not acted upon.
Cini was aware of the difficulties that hindered the carrying out of such a plan, by individuals resistant "to changing rather long–standing habits, in the infinite number of calculations that are done at all times", to the necessity of establishing rules under which the new currency would have weight, size, and a material common to each State, namely, that it would always have "the same standard."

Expo: the oldest flour in the world, discovered in Tuscany, dates back to 30,000 years ago

It is the world's most ancient flour and it was discovered in Tuscany. This discovery – which has radically changed our understanding of Paleolithic humans and their diet – was presented in Florence at an event entitled The Earliest Flour in Tuscany – Origins of a Diet, aimed at exploring the subject of dietary evolution, set in the framework of Expo 2015.
The story began 30,000 years ago when a group of homo sapiens settled temporarily in the Bilancino area, on the banks of the Sieve River. Thousands of years passed until 1995-1996 when the area was to be flooded so as to create an artificial lake for use as the Bilancino reservoir.  A group of archaeologists discovered where a Paleolithic camp had been set up at one time later covered with silt by the Sieve. 

Richard Cobden and the “healthy propensity for peace”

2015 – a year of anniversaries and of events.
Among the first anniversaries are the 100th anniversary of Italy’s disastrous entry into the First World War on 24 May 1915, the 70th of the Liberation from German occupation, and the 150th of Florence as capital of the new unified Italy. As for events, we clearly think immediately of “EXPO 2015, Feed the Planet, Energy for Life”, which opened just a few days ago and which is probably the biggest media event of the year.
However 2015 marks another anniversary that perhaps most people do not know of, the anniversary of Richard Cobden’s death, the English father of liberalism and a promoter of free trade among nations, on 2 April 1865.
Faithful to its origins, the Florentine Georgofili Academy could not help but admire the man who tried to steer England from an ironclad protectionist policy to broader horizons characterized by the cooperation and generosity between peoples.   

Opening of the Georgofili Academy’s 262nd Year

Publication in English on the Georgofili Academy downloadable on-line free of charge

Italian Pharmacopoeias. A general survey (Part II - XVII- XIX centuries)

The Birth of an Academy: Ubaldo Montelatici and the Georgofili


The Agricultural Exhibitions were started during the Grand Duchy of Tuscany as a result of an 1838 proposal by the Georgofili, and were held periodically.
After Italy’s unification, Ricasoli’s provisional government, with a special law, decreed that an “exhibition of Italian products” be held in Florence. All this notwithstanding  the Expedition of the 1000 was in progress and Rome and Venice were not yet united.

Italian Pharmacopoeias. A general survey. Part I (XV-XVI Centuries)