The School of Agriculture Castelletti

History The agricultural school Castelletti was founded in 1859 by Leopoldo Cattani Cavalcanti. In designing this type of school, seems to have been inspired by the work of Canon Charles Michelagnoli, director of "Innocents" in Florence, which had created in the Valdarno agricultural colonies. The "Innocent" was an institution where they were collected orphans or abandoned: it was decided to let them learn farm work because, as adults, they had a better chance of working. In these colonies the boys learned to work the earth and, at the same time, the elementary rules of education. This was a period in which they were born different schools popular in Italy, they were founded by private citizens who question seeks to educate poor children. Famous is the Apple Orchard school founded in 1835 by the Marquis Ridolfi. Driven so great humanitarian spirit, Leopoldo Cattani Cavalcanti picked the Boys in poor conditions with the intent to give them an education. The day of these was divided between study and work in the morning was devoted to work in the fields, the meter afternoon in the study. They were under the supervision of two adults, a "foreman" and a "housewife". Cattani Cavalcanti meanwhile took part in the War of Independence and to return such a different attitude to this school. In 1862, so the primitive existing agricultural school, from which you came subfactors, was added to the Agricultural Institute Philanthropic that formed the factors, that is, those people who have the task of leading a 'farm. At this school boys were admitted belonging to all social categories. Garibaldi, a few years later when he visited, appreciated the fact that "it is the poor guy could sit next to the guy rich" (a plaque commemorates this event at the Institute). Cattani sacrificed all his energies and a part of his enormous wealth for the good functioning of this school. We found, in fact, documents that demonstrate how he gradually sell plots of land of land, most likely to get the money he needed to grow his Institute (ASF). This one. that worked for about a hundred years, has had a great importance in the life of Signa, and its activity was famous beyond the borders of our country. In a document of 1869, he points out that it was one of only 69 technical schools then existing in Italy. thus proving the importance of its educational work. In 1882 he died Cattani Cavalcanti. He, having no heirs, he left some of his belongings to the Institute, assets that would allow this to stay alive until 1908. In the same year, however, given the importance that the school had already purchased, it was decided not to close it. As director of the school, in 1882, succeeded Marinelli-Riccardi, after him we had Dino Bandecchi and then his son Geoffrey. The original seat of the Institute was one of the houses located near the villa, probably the one near the bridge on the Bisenzio river. In a second phase was transferred in Street of the Arrighi and remained there until its closure. Reading a report written in 1885 by the Director Marinelli-Riccardi, we became aware of how it worked this school. It possessed of large dormitories that could contain up to a hundred pupils, a dining room, four study rooms and six lessons, a rich museum of "things" natural and agricultural and a library of over 500 volumes. The course duration was four years. Were taught, in addition to more traditional subjects such as Italian language, arithmetic, history and geography, materials suitable for the formation of a factor, such as country houses, rural accounting, agronomy, land surveying. This was the theoretical part of teaching, but there was also a practical part in which was given a huge importance. Pupils worked a farm of 14 acres, which was cultivated with vines, lawn and garden. They were also cultivated industrial plants such as flax, hemp and beetroot. Annexed to the Institute there was a stall with various species of animals that had to be treated by the same guys. There was also a breeding silkworms and so many mulberry trees were grown, the leaves of which are in fact the food of these animals. The boys who attended the school were forced to stay there to sleep and also to observe a very strict regulation, the statement attached to the report mentioned you can read the number of hours in which the students were engaged, in practice or had to dedicate to the study or to work throughout the whole day. When you came out of the office had to wear a uniform. This consisted of a red shirt, blue pants and white spats;-in-chief wore a hat like "partisan". This school has not always been structured as the report mentioned above. Following the general reform of the Italian school of 1928, it is believed there has been a renewal in the programs of the Institute of Castelletti. Indeed, we know that the duration of the school was brought to 5 years, 3 of whom were professional training and the other two technical school. The title which delivered after the five-year course was agricultural agent. Gained more importance for theoretical education at the expense of the practical, the students no longer worked the land. but followed step by step the work of the peasants. They must, however, do some experiments, such as prune or graft the plants, or other agricultural work. They were allowed to attend this school boys also external, that boys who were not required to reside in the Institute. In the 50s this school was closed and the causes are to be found in the changed social situation. The large farms were gradually disappearing and the property became more divided, why there was no domand of factors and subfactors. Came to an end as an institution that had contributed so much to the education of the inhabitants of Signa and its surroundings. Bibliography Signa between History and Tradition, edited Elementary School "Leonardo da Vinci of Signa, Ed Tipolitografia Nova, 1990

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