Hardworking, pragmatic, humorous, Pietro is a typical Tuscan peasant. He worked the land with hoe and plough from his earliest youth. Born, he explains, 'in the Middle Ages' he has lived to see the world he knew and loved pass into history. Fortunately for us, with the help of Jenny Bawtree, he has set down a most vivid account of that peasant culture which is now dying.
Pietro grew up during the Fascist regime on a farm not far from Florence. As sharecroppers under often unscrupulous
landowners, the peasants lived in conditions of extreme poverty and were thus well equipped to face the rigours of the Second World War. War or no war, work on the land went on. We learn how Pietro made wine and olive oil, planted the wheat by hand and made baskets and ladders from chestnut wood - skills that are swiftly being lost as Pietro's generation passes on.
Storytelling, music and poetry enlivened their days, all seasoned with a salty humour. As Pietro says, 'Tuscans crack jokes even on their deathbeds.' He played the trumpet, wrote poetry and grew famous for his tales of peasants, knights and brigands. The Church's pageantry and processions offered a welcome respite also. No ardent Catholic, Pietro recalls such occasions with enthusiasm and saw no incongruity in joining the Communist Party after the war. The post-war years brought seismic change.
The sharecropping system came to an end and Pietro's family left the land for a new life in the suburbs. Later he went to work at the riding-centre run by Jenny Bawtree and over time recounted to her the scenes of his youth.