Since the XV century, many city nobles and merchants were interested in most of the villages around Brescia. They invested their money in lands and villas, and became the owners of most of the properties. The pleasant spot were very desirable. Capriano, with its hill, its woods and fertile country, was divided amongst the families Bocca, Pontoglio, Pedrocca, Calini, Di Rosa, Bellasi, the Cathedral Chapter, the several monasteries and convents all over the city and the province. Castles, towers and holiday houses embellished so much the landscape so that Agostino Gallo, a sixteenth century wool dealer, and writer about agriculture, decided to set his dialogue on agriculture between his two interlocutors right in the Torrazza of Capriano.
But the beauty of a place not always corresponds to quiet life, or to better economic conditions. The data we have show us a significant picture of the situation: most of the land, the best and the irrigable one, belong to the few rich families, Bocca and Bellasi. The Bellasi, who gave the name to the hamlet Fenili, bought almost every land in 1428; they also owned many lands in Corticelle, Quinzanello, Boldeniga, Mairano, Capriano, Verziano, Bottonaga and Serpente. They had four farms, one building in Fenili, a furnace, half of a mill, a hydraulic saw, and an inn. But their jewel was the 650.000 square yards land, called “The big piece”. This meant they had wood for building, they could hunt (it was the nobles’ favourite hobby) and sell wood. It was a good patrimony. Guerrini described them as one of the most praiseworthy family in Brescia, because they had to clear up those lands to make it be productive. Their initial richness came from the dealing in textiles and carpets, which they had started in Bellagio.
In Movico, separated from Capriano, the only big landowner was Luigi Scalvini, who lived in a Castle and had more than 1.500.000 square yards. In the centre of Capriano, the family Bocca bossed around. But even the richest families die away or become poor. Other rich families often replace them. In 1809 in Fenili, all the houses and holdings belonged to the nobles Pedrocca, Arici and Gigli. On Monte Netto, the Torrazza and the other lands belonged to Vincenzo Calini.
The family Pontoglio replaced the Arici. In 1852, Giovanni Pontoglio had got no less than 64 buildings!
Most of the inhabitants were in the nobles’ service: they were massari, sharecroppers, day labourer, or they cultivated little plots of land that they had managed to buy and keep.
We cannot talk about Capriano without talking about the family Di Rosa and about S Maria Crocefissa (in the world Paola). The Di Rosa came from Bagnolo where, in 1454, they had sold some mills to the municipality and widened their properties in Capriano. Some members of the family went on holiday in Capriano. The count’s daughter Camilla Albani came here with her parents, brothers, and sisters, with Paola, too. She would become Sister Maria Crocefissa. When the father built a spinning mill in Acqaufredda, employing many boys from the lowland, she turned the work room into a sort of a cloister, where religious chants mixed with the noise of the machinery.
In Capriano, she gave money to organize the female and male orphanages, made the people rebuild the High altar and the St. Luigi’s altar and statue. And when cholera broke out, she fell ill. She opened up a nursery school and a trade school in her palace and in 1935 she opened the geriatric hospital “Paola Di Rosa”.
And, at last, a practical remark: in the last years, thanks to the constancy, industriousness and intelligence of the farmers, Capriano’s wine products are renowned all over Italy. They now have the Doc (Protected designation of Origin). In addition to the tradition of Tamburello (a popular court game), there is now a new glory. Ad multos annos!