Rampinzeri farm of lord De Stefani-Tagliavia

In 1882 knight Giuseppe De Stefani became owner of the feud of Rampinzeri, that in that time it was a big farm of about 375 hectares divided in different property (Scarlata, Scalabrino, Pezzenti, Surio, Finestrelle, Mirlocco, Gesù-Maria-Giuseppe, Quarararo, Villa Fata). Every parcel was provided of a large storage room and in Villa Fata there was the palace where the owners were hosted.
In the two courtyard there were “trappeto” that was the machine for pressing, basement, stable, oil storage room, granary, barn, “pagliera” that was a little straw shed, canopy for the sheep, the room for the shepherd, administration’s office, farmer house, the bakery, oven’s room, storage of agricultural instrument, the storage for the food provision, chicken coop and woodshed.

The principal cultivation was wheat (type “Sambucara” and “Tumminia”), alternated with legume and others herbaceous (barley, broad bean, chickpea, mustard, flax, sulla, etc.). There were also two vineyards (type “Insolia”, “Pignattillo” and “Catarratta”); extended olive trees grove in the property of “Scarlata” (257 olive trees), “Gesù-Maria-Giuseppe” (997 olive trees) and “Villa Fata” (2.000 olive trees), a citrus grove and an almond grove, and fruits trees exclusively used by the owner; about 27 hectares, in a “mountainous and alpine place”, there was planted Sumac.

In the farm were raised 4 horses, 2 mules, 1 donkey, 2 female horses, 8 cows, 6 calf, 1 bull, 150 sheep, 1 sow and a great number of birds; there was even a beehive for the honey.

In the company worked different figures: the farmer, the keeper, two cart drivers, a baker, a delivery boy, vineyard keeper, the gardener, the sheep keeper, a cowboy, a shepherd, a groom. It was used the “colonia” system: were given 15-20 hectares of land with rural building (that included reunions room, bedroom, kitchen, storage, stable and crawl space where put the hays, straw and animals feed), fertilizer, seeds and two cows sharecropping; the crop was divided equally between owner and farmer. The sons of colonist inherit the right of cultivate the parcel.

Generally, colonist family was composed by 4 person that were able to work, young person and a woman for housework; the colonist not at all lived in the farm because the proximity to the town facilitated the movement.

Those who worked in the farm had a good salary, a good lodging and could seed from 4 to 8 D D of broad bean; who has more land, could seed wheat in a plot of land decided by them. Everyone used pasta, bread (that was kneaded and cooked in the 2 oven, 3 time a week), legumes, vegetables, wine and other type of food.

Rampinzeri farm was awarded with honor degree and with 3000 liras in the Contest announced for the Trapani Province by the Ministry of Agriculture with the decree of 14 January 1886 with following motivation:

  • “Rampinzeri Company, for its big extension and for its organization is worthy of particular consideration… it constitutes a good example that have to be imitated by the owner of sicilian provinces and that of Trapani particularly, to improve the ex-feuds and cultivate them in a rational way”;
  • “Waters are well-fastened and severely economized; well-collected the fertilizers…; men and animals are well lodged. …, there are a complex of reforms and improvement wise and well understood, that testify the hard work and the best will of knight Giuseppe De Stefani- Tagliavia to start the different agricultural companies of his extended property in a rational way and ensure that everything is inspired by the modern agrarian progress”;
  • “Rampinzeri give the prove of how the feudal company of Sicily are transformable and how good is the application of the norms and art and science concept to improve radically the miserable actual conditions”;
  • “… this property, being located on a chalky deposition, have ground of poor quality, especially in the high-ground, where the lime sulphate is raised in big blocks and tends to emerge; for this, the owner, has to test the resources of art to fight against nature obstacle and face the big cost to win them, …;
  • Following the notable reforms done by knight De Stefani – Tagliavia in Rampinzeri, this extended property lost the squalid and discouraging spirt of sicilian ex-feuds and assumed that of charming Company well-governed, …”.

Following years after the award, the owner improved another time the company, with “judgement and a lot of costs”: well for drinking water, extension of building with news spaces to host seven families of colonist, social dairy, alternation of cereals and sulla for increase the fertility of the soil. After 10 years from the award, De Stefani family toke part to Agriculture Regional Exhibition of Palermo, showing in a monographic volume the products, the modality of management and transformations done to the company, for economics interests and to ensure to the workers and colonists a bigger amount, by the point of view that “rich colon makes rich agriculture, and our long practice must recognize the correctness of this affirmation”.

The farm of Rampinzeri has worked about since 1970. The last sharecropper was Giuseppe Biondo, son of Nino Biondo that was a sharecropper too; through his memories it’s possible “see” the big farm working: the large kitchens in the zero ground floor and first floor, craftsman’s shop, the stable with cows and sheep, the carriage’s space, the big undersoil cistern and its roof with vaults, the big rocky machine where the olives were let falling down through a hole done in the superior space, metal press from where the oil came out and was collected in big vats and then in the barrel, the beautiful circular palm grove where grapes were pressed with naked foots obtaining the must that, through a clay canal, was collected in the pantry.

In the last years, De Stefani family lived in the first floor of the big building, before of the lateral building of a little real estate, and lived in the Castle only during the summer; the entire year the products of the farm (cheese, wheat, olives, fruits, oil, etc.) was brought to Palermo with little carts, for the family necessities and for the sale, in a trip that lasted for one day and one night.

In that time, often went to the Cstel Don Angelo De Stefani, army’s general, with his car “1.100” with white roof and wheels, creating a lot of dust and causing children’s enthusiasm, that chased the car along the street till the courtyard and that received candies and presents.

 

Extract from the internal rules of Rampinzeri’s Farm

The farmer or the boss must wake up the first and, when he woke up, must monitor all the employees work. Firstly, is important check and clean the animals and clean the stables. Then is important to provide the wine, the bread and all the things that the employees need. The farmer must decide, according with the owner the night before, what the employees must do.
The farmer must feed the animals three times during all day, in the morning, at midday, and in the night. In the morning and in the night, they must eat barley, in midday bran with escarole, but in every case is important that they have straw. Is recommended to the farmer that every night has to check that the animals are attached in the right way and that they have them straw litter.
The farmer has to check that employees do their duties and if they don’t do, he has to tell this to the owner.
The day labourers, until march, receive every day 1,2 kg of bread; since March the have to receive because of the tilling of vineyard, a portion of wine. In the afternoon the have to eat the soup, and in the Saturday for who goes, a piece of bread.
The Robettiere at the end of every work, has to pick up every instrument that have been used for work, and deliver its to the owner. If there isn’t some instrument the responsible is the Robettiere.
The farm custodian is responsible for everything that fail in the farm and for every damage that could happen. If something fails in the tenement the responsible are all the labours, so if it happens they have to pay.
Every night the farm custodian, the CURATO of man and labour, the gardener have to report to the owner everything of the day, if the owner there isn’t them have to report the day to the farmer, he will order what the following day have to do.

The farmer must report to the owner what happen in the farm.
Every employed can’t walk away from the farm, before they have to notify it to the owner and, when he isn’t there, the boss or farmer o who represents them and they have to tell where go.
The accounting of Robettereia is managed by the Robettiere. He registers, in the booklet of monthly accounts or administration, the flour that receive by the mill, that that is delivered to the baker and the bread that is obtained, and then everything that could be collected or sold on behalf of the farm… he keeps the count for write the bread and wine da daily give to the employed…
the housing block, courtyards, the stroll and everything that is connected with the small house must be kept cleaned.
The employed, that for illness or everything else, can’t go to work, when they come back have the right to receive the bread, wine and money.
it is strongly recommended to the men’s Curatolo to avoid that the worker alter the “caje”, or that elevation of ground that be helpful to avoid the rockslide of arable ground.
The Robettiere will keep three block-notes, one for the collection of sumac, another for the collection of must and the third for the collection of olives; in addition he will keep a little book for report the days of work of permanent employees: annually and monthly.
In the end, the Robettiere, in the evening, before going to bed, has to lock all the doors, in order that the whole inner staff stay inside of the housing block and extraneous person can’t acceded in strange hours, and slip away from his supervision.