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dispute fra galli - olio su tela 1780

This breed, called after the North Italian city of Modena, is mentioned sporadically by a few authors without being fully described. One may on all accounts suppose it to be similar to the Livorno and to the Romagnola from the nearby Romagna region (Mazzon I.,1932).
According to other authors, this breed could have been derived from crossing the crestless Padovana Comune with the white and golden Livorno. Due to its predominantly buff-chamois colour, the Modenese was also called Fulva di Modena (Clementi F., 1950).
The University of Parma became recently aware of the existence of a breeding stock and started a research on the breed's productivity.

razza Modenese
Galline Modenese
A flock of Modenese - Photo Courtesy of A. Zanon

A primitive breed from Campania, the Naples region, it owes its name to the fact that farmers used to raise their chickens on left-overs from their table and their production waste. There are no descriptions of Monnezzara chickens, but one may suppose it to belong to the Mediterranean type that was being bred in the rest of Italy (Cortese M., 1978).

There is no precise information on this breed, as a research by the Technical Committee of the Italian Federation of Poultry Associations (F.I.A.V.) is still being conducted. The Committee is carrying out a thorough examination of the available specimens and considering the possibility to prepare a breed standard. Based on the available description one may conclude the Mugellese is a bantam breed with a solid body and proud carriage.
It is possessed with a lively, noisy temper, and extreme aggressiveness towards other males in spite of its small size.
The cock's comb is erect and rather large in relation to the body size, as are the wattles; the earlobes are red or (preferably) white. The female has a rather small comb, folded on one side when laying. The shanks are rather short and smooth, light in colour; white skin.
Both male and female carry their tail high. The male's sickles are not excessively developed. This breed has been always used for their good hatching abilities.
After laying about fifteen eggs, these small chickens are invariably seized by a strong hatching instinct, that may continue to take place during nearly the whole year.
The eggs are small, with a white shell. When hatching, the Mugellese chickens display a pale yellow (nearly whitish) livery, but with the growth of the first feathers their sex becomes distinguishable.
The cockerels are generally dark gold in colour, while pullets can be wheaten or gold. In spite of its small size, this is a hardy and long-living breed. Their raising does not present any particolar difficulty: it takes place outdoors during the whole year, with no special care required.
As many other bantam breeds, the Mugellese love spending the night on plants or trees with any weather.
Unfortunately, repeated crossing to other bantam breeds is endangering the Mugellese as a breed: specimens displaying the correct type are increasingly difficult to come across. The Mugellese is also called Mugginese.

Gallettino Mugellese (orecchioni rossi)
chioccina Mugellese con pulcini (quello nero non è un Mugellese)
gallettino Mugellese (orecchioni bianchi)
Mugellese-bantams (also called Mugginese) - Photo Courtesy of V.Masconni

A breed mentioned by Mr. Quilici when stating that in the area around Foggia chickens with a black livery are very common (Quilici R., 1958). Mr. Ghigi himself reports how the Gargano area was populated by chickens resembling the Valdarno Nera and in his Trattato d'Avicoltura (Treaty on Poultry Farming) welcomed a possibile attempt at improving these specimens by using selected Black Livorno or Valdarno males (Ghigi A., 1968; Taibel A., 1930). The Nera di Capitanata, currently extinguished, must have had a single comb, white earlobes and the typical Mediterranean homosomic characteristics.



An attempt at investigating the origin of the Paduan, an old and universally known breed, was recently made by some French authors, in accordance with the studies carried out in Italy by Prof. C.L. Fracanzani, a scholar with a passion for this breed. The first crested chickens seem to have been introduced in Italy around the end of the Fourteenth century. Marquis Giovanni Dondi dell'Orologio, struck by the rare beauty and elegance of these chickens 'resembling flowers', is said to have brought them from Poland, which would explain how come Paduans are also known under the name of Polish, a denomination used also by Mr. Darwin. The Dondi family received their title from John the Third, King of Poland. The old friendship with the Polish royal family was the reason why these large-crested chickens arrived to the city of Padua, where Marquis Dondi proudly kept them in his family estate. A famous medicine doctor and astronomer, Marquis Dondi cultivated the friendship of several celebrities abroad. Thus, in the Sixteenth century the so-called Paduan chickens reached Flanders and Brabant (Fracanzani C. L. ,1996; Périquet J. C., 1994, 1995). Passy (1885), however, believes the Paduan to have been introduced into France, more precisely in the Lorraine region, around 1720 by Stanislaw Leszczynski (1677-1766) when, having lost the Polish crown, he took shelter in France at his son-in-law's, Louis the Fifteenth. According to Passy, the chickens brought by Leszczynski were favoured by Madame de Pompadour and were called 'Pompadour Pullets' in her honour, which name later changed into 'Padoues'. Louis Sixteenth's daughters are reported to have engaged with enthusiasm in the breeding of these curious specimens. Some paintings from the Eighteenth Century are said to be kept at the Louvre portraitting some poultry braces that strongly resemble the current Paduans (Giavarini I., 1983, Pozzi G., 1961).
The Padua breed is also mentioned by Ulisse Aldrovandi, Medicine and Philosophy Doctor at the University of Bologna in the Sixteenth Century as well as by Mr Borelli, mathematician and medicine doctor active around 1600, and in some notes by Mr. Tommaseo. Crested chickens can also be observed in a fresco decorating the Vatican Lobbies by the hand of Raffaello. Other authors claimed the breed's origin must be sought even further back in time. Mr. Ghigi, supported by the discovery of some marble statues of crested chickens (currently preserved at the Vatican Museums), located the origin of the Paduan in Roman times (Ghigi A., 1930, 1968; Pochini L., 1894, 1905), claiming for it to have originated from the evolution of primitive crested chickens such as the Polverara. Mr. Ghigi carried out several investigations on the mutations that allowed for the selection of this breed. In 1939 he wrote: "Paduan chickens display anatomical mutations of the head, such as the so-called cerebral hernia. This is not a proper hernia, i.e. the result of the brains pushing through the membrane surrounding them. It is rather a prolongation of the brains due to the fact that the cerebral hemispheres are located in front of the remaining parts of the brains on the same level, instead of partially covering them as is normally the case. Thus prolonged, the brains do not fit in a regular skull and are compelled to move upwards in the frontal area, so that the hemispheres end up by positioning themselves diagonally outside the fore part of the skull. During the embryo's development there appears a surface of bone material on the outer part of the brains that gradually extends itself until it becomes a protuberance covering the hemispheres.

Together with this peculiarity there may be observed two more cranial variations due to the fact that the nostrils do not unite to constitute a single bone tissue along the beak's middle line but leave an open space. Consequently, while nostrils are normally laid on a central bone structure on which they are placed in an oblique, lateral lodging, in Paduan chickens they lack the bone's support and are placed rather high, looking flat and elastic. The space between the nostrils and the bone protuberance supporting the crest is extremely limited so that the normal development of the comb is prevented. This is short, often irregular in shape, with knobs or double lobes, or even absent. Beside a crest constituted by extremely long feathers that confer to the head the appearance of a chrysanthemum flower, Paduans also have a thick beard and whiskers. We are therefore observing a series of abnormal characteristics occurring together. These, however, can also occur singularly, each of them constituting a separate phenotype deriving from the mutation of a specific characteristic. (Fracanzani C. L., 1996). Based on the above, Mr. Ghigi, who was convinced the Paduan had originated from the Polverara, contradicts himself and ends by corroborating the idea that the several local breeds in the Padua area (Boffa, Cappellona, Polverara, see above and below) were obtained by crossings with the crested Paduan chickens. Such distinct breeds, in fact, display in various degrees the singular mutations that may be observed to be grouped in the Paduan.
Mr. Mazzon however, in a publication from 1905 that was also quoted later on by Mr. Pascal, stated the Padua and the Polverara to be entirely separate breeds, arguing that the large-crested Paduans were very rare in Italy, while Polveraras were not. The Paduan breed had found much appreciation abroad, especially in Holland where it was most frequently bred (Mazzon I., 1934; Pochini L., 1905). In fact, the large-crested Padovana was popular nearly worldwide, and contributed significantly to the selection of several European breeds (Crèvecœur, Houdan and other, minor breeds in France; Polish and Brabant in the Netherlands; Sultan in Eastern Europe), so much so that nearly all crested breed seem to have large-crested Paduans among their ancestors.

Large-Crested Padua gold as is today

Large-Crested Padua, gold, as it used to be

Large-Crested Padua, chamois or white-laced buff

 Large-Crested Padua, silver or black-laced 1950

 Large-Crested Padua, chamois 1927

The current classification of poultry breeds displays significant discrepancies which are worth being looked into. The Paduan is registered in the American Standard of Perfection together with the Dutch Polish or Poland under the name of Polish as a single breed. The two varieties differentiate themselves simply by the specification "bearded" and "non-bearded". This applies also to the English standard where the official name is Poland. In the most recent French works the Paduan is called Padoue and it distinguishes itself from the Polish, a beardless breed where the wattles are well developed, with a crest that may be of the same colour as the livery or of a colour in contrast with the livery. Accordingly, the Italian Standard includes the two breeds separately from one another.

In the Italian Standard of Poultry Breeds the Paduan recurs in nine colours, six of which are universally known and included also in the oldest texts: black, white, black-laced silver and black-laced gold, white-laced buff and cuckoo. The white columbia and buff varieties are extinct. With their crest and beard, Paduans lack the comb and the wattles, display very small, whitish earlobes that are completely covered by the mufflings. The male weighs about 1.8 - 2.3 kg (previously, 3 to 3.5 kg), the hen between 1.5 and 2 kg (as opposed to 2.5 kg in the past). The shanks are of average length, fine, smooth, with four toes and bluish grey in colour. Eggs are white, their weight is min 50 grams (Lion G. F., 1893).
In the area around the city of Padua Professor G. Baldan has recently started a project of selection and re-qualification of this breed's production characteristics, while the general tendency in the rest of Italy and abroad is that of selecting a highly ornamental poultry breed. Further information about the Paduan may be obtained by referring to the Italian Standard of Poultry Breeds (Various Authors, 1996)

gallina Padovana Gran Ciuffo  nella colorazione camoscio
White-Laced Buff Paduan (today)
gallina Padovana Gran Ciuffo  nella colorazione camoscio
White-Laced Buff Paduan (yesterday)1944
gallo di Padovana Gran Ciuffo  nella colorazione detta sparviero
Cuckoo Paduan

Large-Crested Paduan, black

Golden Chick

Others interessant strangers site  and


Also called Padovana del Chilì, with inverted feathers or simply frizzle, this breed occurs in the first Italian exhibition catalogues at the end of the XIX century (Lion G. F., 1893). It was in every aspect similar to the Large-Crested Paduan except for the frizzled livery which conferred to the breed a very ornamental character. The frizzle Paduan became soon extinct in Italy, but survived abroad and especially in the United States, including in its Bantam version. In the USA this breed is known under the name of Polish Frizzle and is recognized in the same colour varieties as the Polish (Ghigi A., 1968; Mazzon I., 1932, 1934).
The Polish Frizzle was imported back in Italy several times during the Eighties and Nineties, but is currently not included in the Italian Standard whether as a separate breed or as a variety of the Paduan. It still is a very curious specimen deserving more attention, not in the least for its fancy aspect.

A brace of Frizzle Polish - Photograph Courtesy of Mr. A. Bacchella

Introduced to the general public during the 16th Trade and Business Fair in Padua in 1934, it displayed the so-called lion-like livery (black-tail buff), with yellow skin and shanks, single comb and white earlobes. The Padovana Lionata could be included in the group of breeds of the Megiarola type. Due to its livery, the general aspect resembles the Bionda Piemontese's (Arduin M., 1991).

The breed's name means 'five-toed'. It is reported to have been common around half way the 1800s in most of the Veneto region (Mazzon I., 1934). The existing literature reports five-toed chickend to have been held in esteem by the Romans and in particular by Julius Ceasar who called it "quinquedigitalis". The various authors became engaged in a discussion as to whether this breed could be related to the English Dorking, to which no answer has been given yet. The "cinquedita", according to Mr. Mazzon's description, was an attractive chicken with silver livery, for some similar to the Campine and for others rather resembling the Dorking. A very lively and hardy breed, it was a rather small sized chicken with thin pinkish shanks, smooth and endowed with five toes. The fifth of such toes was clearly distinguishable from the fourth, its tip pointing upwards. A good layer, the Pentadattila laid small eggs but was also appreciated for its fine and delicate meat. In his work on chicken breeds in the Padua area, as early as in the first decades of the 1900s Mr. Mazzon observed how pre-bred Cinqueditas had become difficult to come across. One may however suppose that the specimens observed by Mr. Mazzon were no pure-bred Cinqueditas but five-toed chickens by which such mutation had prevailed due to its being a genetically dominant characteristic. A common five-toed breed is also mentioned by French authors; such a mutation can be supposed to have been rather common among the local poultry (Périquet J. C., 1994).

A Bantam breed originary of the Veneto region, very common especially in Eastern Veneto and Friuli. This is the only rural production bantam breed to be currently available on the market. The chicks are light brown in colour with darker stripes on the back and the head. This colour, genetically not entirely fixed yet, is the golden partridge or wheaten one. At the age of four months, pullets and cockerels both weigh 600 to 700 g. The average adult weight for the males is between 1.3 and 1.5 kg, for the females about 1 to 1.1 kg. The hens between 160 and 180 eggs yearly, each about 40-45 g in weight, have a strong hatching instinct and are very good mothers (Arduin M., 1991).
Although the name Pepoi seems to recall the idea of a Bantam breed similar to the "Nana", there are no similarities betwqeen the two. In my opinion, the Pepoi is a dwarfish chicken type with no genetic base and with no equivalent among any local breed. Its lack of fixed morphological characteristics may contribute to conclude that it is derived by the crossing of chickens of varied and uncertain origin.
The earlobes and shanks vary in colour, and the same can be said for the comb's shape, which cannot but corroborate the theory concerning the breed's uncertain ancestors. The Pépoi are currently bred as a hobby and for the consumption of the so-called one-portion chicken.

splendido gallo Pepoi
a flock of Pepoi
Pepoi one day chicks

According to Mr. Mazzon, the Giant Padua could be distinguished from other types even by the less expert observers. It was common in the districts of Piove, Monselice, Este, Montagnana, as well as around Padua. The grown-up hen reached or out weighed 3 kg, the male 4 kg; at the age of four months it reached 1.5 kg. The capons were greatly appreciated as a product of which the farming housewives of the Veneto were very proud. In spite of being a chicken of the Mediterranean type, the Giant Paduan laid an annual average of 170 rather large (70 to 80 g) eggs (Mazzon I., 1932, 1934).
Its appearance was majestic, due to the large single comb, erected in the male and folded in the female, the white earlobes and the powerful yellow shanks. The most common liveries were white and chamois. As opposed to other restless breeds of the Mediterranean type, their temper was quiet and sociable. The breeding of it seems to have been a task that passed from mother to daughter, breeding specimens often being included in the bride's dowry (Trevisani G., 1934). Although enthusiastically promoted by Mr. I. Mazzon, Esq., the Padovana Pesante has not been described by any other author and remains a rather unknown breed. One may suppose it to have been very similar to other giant breeds of the Mediterranean type such as Minorca and Berbezieux.

gruppo di  Padovana Pesante
A Flock of Padovana Pesante in 1932
Padovana Pesante 1932

Mr. Italo Mazzon names this breed in an article published on the "Padova" magazine, stating it to be a creation of an Apulian breeder by the name of Pizzolante. Mr. Mazzon specifies that information on the subject is brief and insufficient to allow any description, however approximate, of the breed's characteristics (Mazzon I., 1932).

According to Mr. Attilio Maggiolo, the Polverara was first mentioned as early as 1560. The first author to descrive it was Mr Bernardino Scardeone who, in his work called "De antiquate Urbis Patavii", noticed the abundance of extraordinarily large chickens nearby the village of Polverara in the countryside around Padua. Mr Tassoni, in his heroic-comic poem "Secchia rapita", describes the area as "the kingdom of poultry", and so do Salomonio, Orsato and Dottori. Mr. Maggiolo added that Polveraras, also known as schiata (pron. Skeeata) or schata, which literally means "stubble" was one of the most beautiful and appreciated breeds especially because of their delicious meat and their great fertility and hardiness. At the time, in fact, chickens used to patrol open fields and search their food along ditches, sleeping outside also in winter time, as a cold climate can delay egg production, but in itself is not cause of diseases. But as early as 1862, Mr. Gloria noticed how the very black chickens of Polverara were losing the traits of pure bred specimens, and failed to outsize "common" chickens by more than a third of their size. Mr Gloria was forced to conclude that no more than three or four families in the area still kept the breed in purity (Fracanzani C. L., 1996; Périquet J. C., 1994, 1995; Houwink A., 1910). The general decadence of the breed was noticed also by Mr. Mazzon in 1888, who deplored the breeders' habit of crossing their chickens with foreign breeds. In early 1900s the breed kept losing popularity, with World War I preventing any serious attempt at breeding it back.

Monsignor Giacomello, the neat and precise author of Polverara, il suo Podestà, il comune, San Fidenzio e le sue chiese , published in 1916, reports that in May 1913, with great enthusiasm, Senator Giacomo Miari de' Cumani, the mayor of Polverara and others founded a cooperative association the aim of which was to recover and improve the old original breed.
This first attempt was unfortunately destined to remain unsuccessful, and the Polverara chickens disappeared from the whole area. It was but later on, thanks to the engagement of three illustrious citizens of Padua, among which Mr Antonio Zanon, that one cock and two hens were recovered and the patient work began which should bring back the breed. The long and difficult task achieved its first success no earlier than 1932, when Mr. Zanon was able to present the Mayor of Polverara with six flocks of breeding specimens to be entrusted to honest and capable local families for further development (Pochini L., 1894, 1905; Mazzon I., 1932, 1934).
Another talented and probably also lucky breeder was Dr. Fortuny, who managed to show some groups at the Exhibition of the Fascist Party's Industry and Agriculture kept in 1933 in Bologna. Mr. Salmaso showed a few white and black specimens at the Verona and Milan shows, but no later than in the Forties the breed became once again extremely scarce. Another attempt at saving the breed was made around 1930 by Gian Antonio Fracanzani from Este, near Padua. With the supervision of Professor Alessandro Ghigi, Fracanzani wrote a dissertation entitled "La gallina Padovana" (The Padua Chicken). Mr Fracanzani's work started by crossing a cock of the so-called Italian local type to a Large-Crested Paduan, which successful combination he (1) refers to as the origin of this valued breed. Professor Ghigi, on the contrary, was inclined to believe the Paduan to have originated from the original Polverara.

(1) Polverara, its Mayor, Municipality, Saint and Curches. Movimento, Polverara, 1916

A Brace of Black Polveraras - Photograph Courtesy of Mr. A. Trivellato

This theory is not corroborated by the present insight in poultry genetics and crossing tests: the tradition according to which the Polverara is derived by the Padua seems to have finally found also scientific arguments. Between 1940 and early 1980 the Polverara was considered irremediably extinct. The only material that was collected under the name Polverara, far from being live stock, was of a historic nature, thanks to the efforts of Mr. Antonio Bertin who spent years in collecting pieces of evidence that could enable him to outline the history of the breed. But at the same time, a group of enthusiastic breeders was discussing and planning the breed's comeback. It was Mr. Bruno Morsetto from Mortise, a village near polverara, who searched the area and put together the few specimens with typical characteristics that could serve him to start the breed's reconstruction. Along with him, Mr. Antonio Fernando Trivellato contributed with his insight in breeding and genetics to the selection of pure-bred Polveraras in its splendid black and white varieties. Aware of the role which can be entrusted to governmental institutions, Mr. Trivellato started an intense exchange of ideas with the municipality of Polverara, that on January 28th, 2000 resulted in a conference entitled "The Polverara Poultry Breed". As a result of this conference, the breed was included in a European aid plan aiming at preserving the rural inheritance and legacy.
At present, the Polverara is being bred in several municipalities of the area around Piove di Sacco, and its specific characteristics are protected by a special committee, President of which is Professor Carlo Ludovico Fracanzani. One may consequently expect the breed's retrieve to be a long-lasting one. More specimens of Polverara are involved in the breeding programs of the Istituto San Benedetto da Norcia in Padua, directed by Professor Gabriele Baldan.
The present Italian Standard of Poultry Breeds (Various Authors, 1996), enriched with the retrieval of an old and typical breed, requires a Polverara chicken to possess the following characteristics:

Morphological Characteristics
General Appearance Rather elegant chicken, with homosomic traits
Comb, Wattles and Earlobes Small, V-shaped comb; Wattles, rough in texture, red; Earlobes of average size, oval shaped, pure white in colour
Crest, Mufflings and Beard Crest, relatively small, carried erect, while eyes remain free; no cerebral hernia; beard and mufflings rather limited in volume, not excessively developed
Beak and Shanks Beak, strong, slightly curved, greyish white in the white variety, bluish black in the black one; Shanks, willow but often also slate green
Weight Male: 2.5-3 kg; Female: 1.8 - 2 kg
Skin and Meat Skin, white; Meat, dark (the so-called Moorish meat)
Egg White in colour, min weight 40 grs., but generally heavier
Livery White, black; in the past (1893) also pencilled, turtledove, buff, white-laced buff and black-laced silver.

The Polverara breed displays several characteristics similar to those of the Dutch Brabanter and the Swiss Appenzeller.

gallina di razza Polverara nel 1944
gallina di razza Polverara nera
galline di razza Polaverara
Polverara 1944
Black Polverara Ph. by Mr.A.Trivellato
Polverara - Ph. by Mr. A.Trivellato
white Polverara
Ph. by Mr. A.Trivellato
A Flock of White Polvereras in 1900
Pochini Farm, Florence
white Polverara
Web Site of Mr. Antonio Fernando Trivellato (italian)
The origin of Polverara with pictures and other text (italian)

This dual-purpose breed was obtained in 1965 by means of planned crossings at the Stazione Sperimentale di Pollicoltura (Experimental Poultry Farming Station) in Rovigo. The Robusta breed is based exclusively on crossings between the Buff Orpington and the White America with the successive breeding of the F1. In fixing the offspring's morphologic characteristics preference was given to the black-tail buff specimens, which is in Italy the so-called lion-like colour. The Robusta Lionata is a typical representative of a dual-purpose chicken, with yellow skin and shanks, single comb of average size and red earlobes. Less bulky than the Orpington, it is though much more hardy and less demanding when it comes to feeding (Arduin M., 1991). At the age of 4 months pullets and cockerels reach a weight of 1.9-2 kg. The male reaches 3.7 - 4.4 kg, the female weighs in average between 2.8 and 3.3 kg. The annual production is 160 to 170 eggs weighing 55 to 60 g and displaying a pinkish coloured shell. It was decided not to eradicate the hatching instinct which can be of use in rural farming (Arduin M., 1992). The Robusta limonata has therefore a pronounced hatching instinct and is generally used to rear the chicks of breeds that are less inclined to hatch. Right after hatching, the chicks clearly dispaly the Robusta's characteristics: the color is deep yellow-buff with several little darker mottles on the head, which meks it similar in color to a lion curb. This breed is currently still bred at local level but must be considered as scarcely widespread. It could be successfully employed for the production of organic meat on otherwise hardly exploitable soil.

chicks of Robusta Lionata
Robusta Lionata Ph. M.Arduin
Robusta Lionata chicks
cock of Robusta Lionata
Robusta Lionata Ph. Mr. M.Arduin
A Flock of Robusta Lionatas
A brace of  Robusta Lionatas

Related to the Robusta Limonata, the Maculata (mottled or spotted) was also obtained by crossings in 1965. It was obtained by the same crossings as the Robusta Lionata, that is to say the Buff Orpington and the White America (Arduin M., 1991). Although the source of the above information is reliable, based on the results of crossing tests between the above mentioned breeds one may conclude that possibly more breeds contributed to the selection of the Robusta Maculata. The chicks are dark brown with hazelnut-coloured stripes, light abdomen and an irregularly shaped spot on the head. The adult specimens display a silver-white livery with irregular black lacing to a variable extent - as this charachteristic never underwent any strict selection. The white hackle feathers are striped, the stripes being black with green shading. The comb is single, average in size, perfectly straight in the male, at times folded in the laying female. Earlobes red, shanks yellow. At the age of 4 months cockerels and pulltes weigh 1.9-2.0 kg. The adult male weighs about 3.8-4.2 kg, the hen 2.8-3.3 kg. The average production is 140-160 pinkish shelled eggs weighing 55 to 60 g (Arduin M., 1992).

Robusta Maculata
Robusta Maculata
Robusta Maculata chick
Robusta Maculata
Robusta Maculata


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