The Lost Pears

Isabella Dalla Ragione – Italy

Summary: She doesn’t exactly look like Indianna Jones, but after a brief conversation with Isabella Dalla Ragione about her passion archeoligia arborea she certainly starts to sound like him. Only it is not lost biblical artifacts that she scours the Italian countryside for… it’s lost fruit. Isabella and her seventy-year-old father identify and then try to recover old varieties of fruit that are no longer available in the Italian town markets . Rescuing plants by visiting abandoned properties, parish gardens, monasteries and cloisters, the Ragiones provide a safe home for these rare fruit trees saving them from possible extinction.
Garden Contact Information: Associazione Archeologia Arborea
San Lorenzo Di Lerchi
Citta’ di Castello (PG), Italy
Phone and Fax: +001-075-8553867
The Garden: The farm of the Archeologia Arborea is located in Citta’ di Castello, in the village of San Lorenzo di Lerchi, 53 kilometres from Perugia. It is home to hundreds of varieties of fruit trees, many of Isabella Dalla Ragione and her father, Livio, have saved from extinction. The trees are grown using traditional local methods.

Some very old and peculiar local varieties of the collection are:

    Mela Muso di Bue (Cow face Apple)
    Mela del castagno (Chesnut apple)
    Mela Rosa in Pietra (Pink stone apple)
    Mela Sona (Playing apple)
    Pera Briaca (Drunk pear)
    Pera Fiorentina (Fiorentina Pear)
    Pera Volpina (Little fox Pear)
    Pera Moscatella (Moscatella pear)
    Ciliegia Bianca (White cherry)
    Ciliegia ocola (Goose cherry)
    Fico Gigante degli Zoccolanti (Giant fig of Zoccolanti Friars)

A small guest house is located on the farm, where overnight visitors enjoy the organic products from the vegetable garden and orchard.

The garden can be toured by reservation only from April to October.

The Gardeners' Story: Growing up in Italy, Isabella Dalla Ragione always knew that she wanted to “work with plants”. During university, where she graduated with a degree as an agronomist, she worked with her father discovering different varieties of fruit trees in old orchards, farms and convents. She started consulting old documents and paintings for varieties of fruit that she had not seen or heard of before. Whenever Isabella uncovers a new variety, she sets out to find it, a treasure hunt for the rare tree that may have somehow survived.

Isabella and her father, Livio, lovingly plant each new variety in their farm in San Lorenzo di Larchi. This has led to their creation of the association Archeologia Arborea, dedicated to rescuing rare fruit trees from extinction. As a means of financing the association Isabella and her father set up a sponsorship program, where trees can be adopted and the money used to take care of the tree.

In addition to the ongoing quest for new undiscovered varieties of fruit as well as the preservation of rare ones, the Dalla Ragiones helps others in their own restoration of old family orchards. They also provide educational activities for school-aged children and teenagers and environmental groups.

Isabella and Livio are also successful authors, sharing their knowledge in the book “Archeologia Arborea, Diario di due cercatori di piante”. Currently available in Italian, an English edition will be published soon. Isabella works as a staff writer on the magazine “Ville e Giardini” writing a column on ancient fruit orchards. Isabella also continues to work as an Agronomist is the nearby town of Perugia where she acts as a consultant to the municipalities and the university.

Behind the Scenes: Executive Producer: Merit Jensen Carr
Producer: Merit Jensen Carr
Creative Producer: Donna Gall
Line Producer: Sandra Moore
Director: Elise Swerhone
Writer: Elise Swerhone
Researcher: Elise Swerhone
Narration Writer: Robert Lower
Editor: John Gurdebeke
Director of Photography: Charles Konowal, CSC
Narrator: Bonnie Dickie
Music: Shawn Pierce

Date: 2006

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