Slow Tuscany - travel stories of Tuscany

Tuscany according to Damiano Andreini - in your own time
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Slow Tuscany > Tuscany > Grosseto > Nomadelfia

Damiano Andreini

As we continue our journey through the history and places of Tuscany, I thought we could make our stop this time in the year 1900. Tuscany was part of the Kingdom of Italy. It was a kingdom which had just been unified and was subject to social conflict. The majority of the population was very poor and tied to its modest harvests of the countryside. The ruling political class was strictly interested in large industry which had recently been brought to Italy from the north. The first industrial workers probably worked under worse conditions than most farmers at the time.

This is why strikes, demonstrations and take-overs of the factories were the order of the day pretty much everywhere. In our region, in the marble quarries of the Apuane Alps (where sculptors and architects got their magnificent "white marble of Carrara"), is where this massacring and underpaid work began that caused the miners to diffuse hymns: and mottoes of anarchy, equality and liberty.

Zeno Saltini was a young man from Modena in serving his obligatory military service in a barrack in Florence. He had a violent encounter with an anarchist friend in the presence of other soldiers. Saltini was Catholic and anarchy sustained that Christ and the Church were obstacles to human progress. Saltini sustained just the opposite… Among the whistles and booing of the other soldiers, Zeno went aside and decided :"I will answer them with my life. I will change civilization by starting with me. For the rest of my life I neither want to be a servant nor a master." He decided to study law and theology and finished his studies and became a priest in 1931. Until World War II he devoted himself to the young cast outs of society and then in 1948, he gave life to the Nomadelfia.

Zeno Saltini

Just a few kilometres from Grosseto, in the hot and Etruscan countryside of Tuscany, approximately 20,000 people a year visit the small community of Nomadelfia. It was founded by Zeno Saltini in an area that in those times needed to be reworked and that today is inhabited by about 320 people (50 families). In Nomadelfia all the goods are community property. There is no such thing as private property. No money circulates. It's an expression of a form of direct democracy. Over the years its population has adopted a Constitution which requires every new law and decision to be passed by a unanimous vote only.


One becomes a "Nomadelfian" by his own free-will after a three year trial period. But at any time, one is free to withdraw. In Nomadelfia everyone works hard. In the offices, labs, schools and businesses the morning shifts are five hours. In the afternoon the "specialized" work can be substituted by "mass work" in which all of the population participates. On the 130 hectares of land to harvest there are vineyards, olives, and vegetables. No one is paid or is promoted. Everyone participates in the workload to provide for himself and his family.

The families of Nomadelfia do not live isolated from each other, but in groups of four or five dividing a dining room, kitchen, and a workshop. Only the bedrooms are separate. It is a community very similar to that of an early Christian one. "The congregation of those that believed were of one heart, and of one soul; and not one of them claimed that anything belonging to him was his own; but all things were common property to them." (Acts 4:32). It is a new population, as it loves to be defined, and is formally recognized by the Italian government as well as the Catholic Church. The Church has encouraged this population that lives its own Christian religion not just as a spiritual community but as a way of society, economy, and politics. "Not servant or master", according to the words of Zeno Saltini.

The "Maremma" ("swampy marsh land": that's how it appeared in the past) is a vast area in southern Tuscany and is definitely one of its most fascinating and suggestive areas. We will most likely have another chance to return to it in the next newsletters. In the meantime, write down this number: 0564-338-243: in order to visit Nomadelfia, all you have to do is call its president.

Damiano Andreini
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