Last Floriculturists

They’re just a handful remaining, in two little areas on the side of the Nemi’s volcano crater lake, suburbs of Rome.

An ancient background in floriculture made Nemi’s village renowned across the country. Nevertheless the tradition is today going to get into oblivion for a number of concurrent reasons: lack of manpower, the economic default, the changeover into exotic kiwi fruit cultures and the introduction of the farm holidays business. A radical and irreversible erasure of the traditional peasant background of this place is in act.

Despite all the changes in act, the daily work of two of the last Nemi’s floriculturists, Emilio and his father, doesn’t stop.

  • Nemi and it’s dead volcano basin in the early morning. The ridges have protected in time this difficult-to-access little world apart. Ancient Romans built here sophisticated hydraulic systems, structures and temples which ruins now lie down a dense vegetation. They also built two tall ships used by the emperor as a water house during his time off.

    Nemi and it's dead volcano basin in the early morning.
  • Emilio’s farm is placed below Nemi’s village. This basin is entirely closed by a dead volcano ridges. The soil is fertile thanks to the lake and the volcanic grounds.

    Emilio's farm is placed below Nemi's village.
  • Emilio is the bearing element of the entire farm. He is the last heir of the ancient Nemi’s floriculture

    Emilio is the bearing element of the entire farm.
  • The entire farm is fed by this well that sucks the water from the lake and then pumps it towards the flower fields for the necessary irrigation. Due to the closed shape of the crater basin, the water, once used, naturally drains back to the lake, preserving the right level of the lake banks.

    The entire farm is fed by this well that sucks the water from the lake
  • Greenhouses are being dismantled and burned. The area will be freed and converted for other activities. They were made of simple components, pipes as bearing elements, beams and timber joists, plastic sheets.

    Greenhouses are being dismantled and burned.
  • Flowers ready for harvesting in late September. These will be dried later.

    Flowers ready for harvesting in late September. These will be dried later.
  • Emilio’s father gathers joists from the abandoned and crumbling greenhouses. As he says, they’re only good for the fireplace, next winter.

    Emilio's father gathers joists from the abandoned and crumbling greenhouses.
  • As a floriculturist Emilio’s father has a long experience that he shared and taught to his son

    As a floriculturist Emilio's father has a long experience that he shared and taught to his son
  • It’s 10 am and the daily work is almost done. Emilio takes a break and plays with one of their kitties.
    During the hot days of the summer, the activities must be carried out and completed in the early morning.

    Emilio takes a break and plays with one of their kitties.
  • The harvesting: Emilio just picked up a bunch of asters and brings it to the shack where they pack them into smaller buquets.

    The harvesting: Emilio just picked up a bunch of asters and brings it to the shack
  • Father and son. The last step of the workflow is the packaging of the bouquets, ready for the distribution.

    The last step of the workflow is the packaging of the bouquets, ready for the distribution.
  • As a floriculturist Emilio’s father has a long experience that he shared and taught to his son

    As a floriculturist Emilio's father has a long experience
  • [L] Uncultivated fields, where in the past the flowers were growing up.

    [R] A “Naked Woman”, as they call here this kind of flower. It grew up in the wild, despite the greenhouse in the background – where once they were cultivated – is slowly crumbling and being swallowed by ferns and creepers.

    Uncultivated fields, where in the past the flowers were growing up.
  • Asters just opened and spread their petals under the first morning lights. At the base of crater the sun rises quite late over the ridges. These flowers are cultivated in open air, the greenhouses in the background are dismissed.

    Asters just opened and spread their petals under the first morning lights.
  • Father and son. Close inspection before the final shipping of the bouquets.

    Close inspection before the final shipping of the bouquets.
  • Gennarino already quit cultivating flowers. “flowers are one the first good penalized by the recent economic default, they’re selling now only for funerals and brides, not enough to guarantee my own living.” – he says. Now Gennarino converted his flower field into a vegetable garden. On the right, what remains of the greenhouses.

    Now Gennarino converted his flower field into a vegetable garden.
  • The chrysanthemums inside one of the six still fully working greenhouses. In the past there were more than 25.

    The chrysanthemums inside one of the six still fully working greenhouses.
  • The planting of the sprouts is made in these sets of polystyrene box, inside the shacks where the floriculturists work and guard their tools.

    The planting of the sprouts is made in these sets of polystyrene box,
  • Asters are cultivated in the dismissed greenhouses

    Asters are cultivated in the dismissed greenhouses
  • Dismantled greenhouses waiting to be recycled. The area will be freed and converted for other activities. They were made of simple components, pipes as bearing elements, beams and timber joists, plastic sheets.

    Dismantled greenhouses waiting to be recycled.
  • The sun is climbing over the ridges and in a short time it will become too hot and wet for working efficiently. At 11 am it’s time to get back to the upper Nemi village with the flower bouquets just packed in the small farm.

    The sun is climbing over the ridges
  • Abandoned flowers greenhouses are slowly crumbling and being swallowed by ferns and creepers. Nemi’s Ruspoli Palace dominates from the highest ridge of the crater.

    Abandoned flowers greenhouses are slowly crumbling