Can the history of a town lie in a fruit? It depends on the fruit and it depends on the town. If we're talking about Londa and if, among all the fruits, we are speaking about the peach....well, then we'd say yes. This is the story of an aromatic, sweet, late-blooming fruit with a white pulp. A peach that, unlike others, matures in September, originally from this area - or so the legend says - and which thanks to its characteristics has been called the Queen.
Our "Queen's" story seemed to be over after World War II; forgotten by that time, hardly anyone was growing her anymore. But during the 1950s Alfredo Leoni, an arboriculture expert, found some specimens in a Valdisieve estate.
He instinctively knew that the plant would be perfect for specialized cultivation and started growing it into Count Pescioloni's lands. Pescioloni was the owner of numerous plots around Londa. But the new spread of the Queen was hampered by distrust and long-held customs: in those days, the sharecropping system was still in force around these parts.
The main difficulty was just convincing the farmers to replace some of the olive trees with peach ones. But when the first company found the courage to get started, others quickly followed. Peach growth proved profitable : due to its late ripening, the Londa peach managed to satisfy requests that came in from Florence - in the very moments in which other varieties would have already finished their cycles.
Through peaches, Londa began to prosper and its residents reached 4000, in sharp contrast to the abandonment of the fields that affected nearly all of the Tuscan countryside areas during the 1960s.
Maturing in September, the Queen Peach found itself, in the '60s, to be the only one on the market in that period of the year, but over time, other varieties came on to the scene to compete for first place. The prices fell and the rediscovered fruit became less profitable.
Then there was another problem: the Londra peaches were not suitable for long productions, which required them to be gathered early and kept in refrigerators.
For these reasons, in the 1980s and '90s, the population of Londa began to diminish, falling to just 1000 residents, the lands were abandoned and only a few farmers remained. The city seemed to once again offer an easy country life.
The territory always amazes and nature's cycles are reflected in this short account: when everything seemed lost, Londa's fields started to be valued again.
The economic crisis and decline in employment drove youths back to farming the land. Today, young students study the techniques for promoting organic products and they value sustainability and quality, breathing life into 0km markets and reversing the old trend: businesses reopened their doors and Londa's population began to grow again. Today, there are around 2000 residents and the Peach is once again the Queen of autumn.