The history: the family

For a couple of centuries the Padelletti family prospered producing magistrates, bishops, many notaries and doctors. The 19th century was not kind to the main branch of the family. Antonio was killed in a riding accident; his son, Pierfrancesco, after having held one of the highest positions in the Grand Duchy of Tuscany, died suddenly while still young. Of Pierfrancesco’s sons; Guido, who was a professor at the universities of Pavia, Bologna and Rome, died before he was 35 of wounds he suffered when fighting with Garibaldi for the independence of Italy; Dino, who was a professor at Naples university, died equally young, of the plague. There remained Professor Domenico, Pierfrancesco’s brother, who was Rector of Pisa University and Carlo Augusto, Guido’s son, who was still an infant.

Professor Domenico Padelletti retired to Montalcino to take care of the family patrimony and assist his young great-nephew. Professor Domenico made many improvements. He planted new vineyards and olive groves and bought more land. So, by the time Carlo Augusto reached 21, he inherited a large estate of well-kept land from his great-uncle. Carlo Augusto intensely pursued a wide variety of activities. Besides obtaining no less than four doctorates from various universities, he was a diplomat, a judge, a lawyer and a physician. He was also an industrialist creating many new industries in a region that had none and which seemed to aspire to nothing beyond agriculture.

The population of Montalcino was poor with high unemployment, and whose only source of power was human or animal. By-passing steam power completely, Carlo Padelletti chose, instead, to back the newly discovered electrical power generated by that new source of energy, the internal combustion engine. As fuel, he used the gases generated by the burning of waste from the timber industry. All this was before the end of the 19th century. In fact, by 1899 Carlo Augusto Padelletti had created a good electricity supply. As a first step, he lit the town of Montalcino with electricity when Rome and Florence were still illuminated by gas. Then, using his abundant financial resources, he started setting up industries that would increase the profitability of Montalcino’s agricultural production. A lot of wheat and cereals were produced, but it was only in winter, when the streams were full enough to drive the water-wheels, that wheat flour could be ground in the mills. So, he built an electrically-powered flour mill in Montalcino, and an olive press and a saw mill. When he needed more bricks, he built a brick furnace. He developed an industry to utilize forestry by-products. Then he started a large printing and book-binding industry and, finally, a movie theatre!

During this time, Carlo Augusto Padelletti had also modernized agriculture. He introduced iron ploughs, internal combustion tractors and harvesting machines. In the meantime, the creation of the railway network somewhat improved the opportunities for the export of Montalcino’s agricultural produce even though Montalcino’s hill-top position did reduce this benefit to some extent. Carlo Augusto Padelletti also did much to improve the wines of Montalcino, presenting wine and olive oil at many Italian exhibitions and also winning prizes abroad from London to Geneva. He opened a sales office in Geneva to optimize the distribution of Montalcino wines. Like other far-sighted landowners, he continued to produce Brunello but always in small quantities. The vineyards were still a mixture of grape varieties and the Brunello grapes were gathered before the main harvest. It had been noted that the alluvial soils at the foot of the Montalcino hill produced the best Brunello, strong but agreeable.