Maccarese Revival Between Memory and Modernity

By Michele Berardi
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In the heart of the Roman countryside, the story of Maccarese unfolds like a tale of resilience and innovation, a bridge from the rural past to the advanced agricultural present. The reclamation of Maccarese, initiated in the early decades of the 20th century, marks a pivotal chapter in the transformation of a vast swampy and malaria-ridden area into one of Italy's largest and most modern agricultural enterprises. This article traces Maccarese's journey from reclamation to modernity, intertwining the land's history with personal stories of those who lived it, including my grandparents, Mafalda Frasson and Giuseppe Berardi, witnesses and participants in this grand transformation.

The reclamation began with the ambition to drain the lands and ensure perfect water circulation, a Herculean task that required the construction of a network of drainage channels and the introduction of innovative agricultural techniques. In those years, Maccarese became a symbol of progress and hope, attracting workers from all over Italy, including the regions of Campania, Sardinia, and Veneto, from which my grandparents also hailed.

Mafalda and Giuseppe, like many others, were drawn by the promise of a better future. Life in Maccarese was not easy, especially in the initial stages of reclamation, with malaria posing a constant threat. However, the community was resilient, supported by a strong sense of solidarity and hope for a prosperous future.

Over the years, Maccarese has witnessed significant changes. After overcoming the initial difficulties, the farm began to thrive, specializing in the production of vegetables, oils, IGT wines, and becoming the home of Italy's largest dairy cattle farm. The estate evolved into a prominent entrepreneurial reality, with a strong focus on sustainability and technological innovation.

My grandparents, Mafalda and Giuseppe, lived through Maccarese's transition from inhospitable land to a thriving agricultural center. Their personal stories are intertwined with the land's, bearing witness to human capacity to overcome adversity and profoundly transform the surrounding environment. They taught their descendants the value of hard work, perseverance, and the importance of caring for the land that nourishes us.

Today, Maccarese stands as an example of how the past and present can coexist harmoniously, guided by an ethic of respect for nature and responsible innovation. The story of Maccarese, with its challenges and successes, continues to inspire those who believe in the power of transformation and the promise of a sustainable future.

Maccarese is more than just a geographical location; it's a symbol of how vision, labor, and community can come together to create something lasting. And as we look to the future, the stories of Mafalda Frasson and Giuseppe Berardi remain with us, reminding us of where we come from and what we can aspire to.

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