gnomi title

"The Italian Gnomes"
and Mythology

The Faerie Realm in Ancient Europe

During the mythical-magical-heroic age of History, between 1000-300 BCE, when Celtic Society was thriving across Europe, many different types of Faerie Folk dwelt among humans, and all shared in the bounty of Nature. They were particularly welcomed and supported by the Celtic settlements, since both Celts and Faeries shared a proximity to nature, rural agricultural ways of life, and an Earth-based spirituality. 

The Faerie Realm (a parallel reality to our own) was made up of a variety of races, the Faeries, Trolls, Gnomes, Elves, and others. They viewed one another as family members and lived among each other, and alongside men, with mutual respect and love. Then, as the Celtic period waned, an ever-increasing torrent of humanity swept back and forth across the area now known as Europe, battling for land and plunder, typically invoking their newfound Christianity to justify their conquests.

Meanwhile, the Faerie Folk tried desperately to hold fast to their traditions and homelands. Finally, the peaceful lives of the Gnomes, Elves, and their kin gave way to the violent tides of human war and conquest, forcing the few surviving pockets of Faerie settlements ever deeper into Nature, inhabiting their own parallel Reality, thus avoiding any further contact with humans. And so it has remained until modern times. Today, of all the Faerie Races, it is the Gnomes who live closest to humans, and even occasionally allow themselves to cross over and be seen by humans, in hopes of forging a new alliance to fight the destruction of Nature. 

The Gnomes;

Adult Gnomes are about 50cm (24”) tall, and are generally human-like in appearance. The main anatomical difference is that Gnomes have 4 fingers and toes, not five as in humans.[1]  They tend toward a “solid”, rotund, and compact appearance, and have disproportionately large heads, hands, and feet, when compared to Humans. They are very strong, wiry, tough creatures, but are quick, nimble and light on their feet.  Their life-span is about two hundred years, and they are resistant to poisons, but vulnerable to being injured because of their small size. 

Most Gnomes display a lusty exuberance and love of food, wine, family, and celebration, as well as a razor-keen wit. As foragers and gatherers, their diet consists largely of herbs, grains, nuts, berries, mushrooms, and other fruits of the land, although they do enjoy the occasional scrap of meat, offered or left behind by local carnivores, and cooked over a small fire. 

Invention and craftsmanship are their genius, and they work with both wood and metals to create ingenious machines and art. They also mine for and cherish precious metals and natural gems, which they hide away and treasure, to use for trade. They practice an earth-based spirituality, with kindness and compassion, even for Humanity, who they view as relatives who have lost their way. 

Gnome males and females hold each other to be of equal worth and social standing, and choose their mates for no other reason than love. They see their love for their mates as sacred, and they are eternally loyal to one another. 

Most Gnomes tend to live deep in Nature; in high meadows and rocky woodlands. However, they can also be found in urban areas, living in close proximity to humans. All Gnome communities are based upon cooperative, consensus principles. No matter what the task, whether as a craftsperson, priest, warrior, miner, or farmer, no one’s skills are raised above another’s. They are also master tool users, and are very resourceful and ingenious in their use and adaptation of raw materials, and both teach and learn skills and techniques with willing Humans. Each year there are gatherings of regional Gnome Clans, where the Council of Elders meet, and there are many other ceremonies and serious discussions of weighty matters of common concern, along with lots of food, drink, dancing, and laughter.

Gli Gnomi d’Italia; The Gnomes 0f Italy

Until recently, it had been thought that all Gnomes are generally alike, and that their range in Europe was from Northern Scandinavia, Ireland, and Scotland, South to France, and into the Czech and Slovak Republics These Northern European Gnomes are typically portly little characters with large white beards, and they favor simple blue tunics and tall, stiff, red, conical hats. These are also the little fellows depicted in the typical “Garden Gnome Sculpture” and other art, as well as the book The Gnomes by Wil Huygen and Rien Poortvliet .

However, in the region of Liguria, in northeastern Italy, there are also Gnomes [2] living in the Apennine mountains, but also in towns, and even cities. These Italian Gnomes are roughly the same height and general appearance as the better-known Northern European Gnomes, and probably evolved from the same ancestors. However, these Italian Gnomes (both males and females) are less portly, possibly in response to the milder climate, or perhaps it’s their “Mediterranean” diet. Their dress is also distinctive, featuring lighter-weight, earth-toned clothing, sandals, and soft, floppy caps. Italian Gnomes are also more serious and intense. This is not to say that they are not happy, since they do enjoy the warmth and love of their family and friends, especially at their frequent community “festas”, which are famous for the quality and quantity of their wine and foods, and for their singing and dancing. However, they also welcome quiet evenings at home by the hearth, or playing games with their children and grandchildren.

Although all Gnomes share a basic Earth-Based Spirituality and a societal structure   of Tribes and Clans, groups from different regions also retain their own set of local social customs, dress, housing, and diet. The Italian Gnomes are a serious and intense group, dedicated to the Earth Mother (Gaia) and her ecology, and undertake heroic adventures to protect and sustain the environment, and to assist all their fellow beings; Animals, Humans, Faeries, Trees, and Plants.



[1]     Human pentadactyly (having five fingers and toes) isn’t unique. In fact, In the early Devonian
period, 420 to 360 million years ago, there were many tetrapods with 5-13 digits on each limb, but
none had less    than  5. But, by the end of this period, only 5-fingered tetrapods remained. All
modern tetrapods (4-legged   animals  like mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and birds have 5 digits
on each limb. Even modern bats and   whales have remnants of 5 digits in their wings and flippers.
So, even though there is no apparent advantage to having 5 digits, it has become the norm. Gnomes
all have 4 digits on their hands and feet. Since we have no evidence that they evolved within our own ancient history or evolution, we can only surmise that the Gnomes have developed and evolved in a ”Faerie Realm” reality, in parallel with, but independent of, our own.

[2]      In Italian, Gnome translates as Gnomo (male) and Gnoma (female), and the plural Gnomes
Gnomi. The Gnomes of Italy becomes Gli Gnomi d’Italia in Italian.


I’ve been reading and writing about Gli Gnomi, and I’m forming a vision of urban Italian Gnomi, living in Quercia (Genova), in an old warehouse given to them by kind humans. The humans made sure it was secure and weatherproof, and gutted it down to the brick walls, so the Gnomi would have a cleared space in which to work. There are all sorts of problems to solve, and things for the Gnomi to build (model). [It will be a stand-alone diorama, which also fits into the corner of my East Wall Layout].

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