“Food, [for us], is inseparable from sharing. There is no great meal unless it is shared with family and friends.” – Jacques Pepin, Chef

The idea of organic farming and moving out to the country came upon us more as a choice for a healthier life rather than as a popular trend the mass media was pushing.  The fast-paced, chaotic city and all the food choices it offers – albeit endless – from its fast food joints to its gigantic supermarkets were no longer acceptable to us.  Eating healthy is very “in” all over the world but it was our desire to go back to our “roots” (literally speaking) and really eat healthy, seasonal and unmodified food again…and super local.  Farm to table.  Everything we needed would be in less than a  kilometer’s distance.  Freed from the choices the city forced on us unknowingly, it was also our chance to learn how to appreciate nature once again – all the vegetation, wild animals, the fertile soil, the insects, the sun and the moon, the seasonality of fruit and veg, the clean air and the absence of light pollution.  Nature was to become our teacher.

We’ll never forget when we planted our first vegetable garden. It was an exciting experience and we had no idea what, if anything, would come out of all that hard labor.  Our backs, knees and hands ached. Then these little sprouts popped out from this tiny seed we planted and there was life.  And food.  Mother Nature was awesome but she could also be brutal.  The olive trees and the tomato plants taught us that. Too much heat, too little water, a hailstorm,  and those nasty little olive flies that ruin all our olives. We learned after the first year that She was the boss.

So we decided to take an organic vegetable gardening course using the synergistic approach. Then came the bread making and Umbrian cooking classes.  After those eye opening courses, the belief that one could and should eat better was confirmed.   Producing ourselves what we needed and buying from local producers was the key.  We then became truly convinced that promoting the “slow” quality of food and wine – even in our own very small world – promotes a better quality of life which in turn means a better existence for our animal friends and a much healthier and safer environment.  It also helps the local economy and small businesses around us.  A slow life philosophy to be reflected upon but most of all to be acted upon and shared with others especially our guests.

You can only believe this philosophy when you actually see with your own eyes the amazing vegetables and fruit growing in the garden without using any pesticides or chemical fertilizers whatsoever.  A miracle.  And then the final leap of faith happens when you pick and eat any of these organic ingredients either on its own or as part of a more complex dish.  The proof is before your eyes but most of all, it is literally sitting on your plate.

To this end, we have “transferred” our newfound philosophy and experience right into our kitchen in order to share it with all of our special guests.  Having dinner at the Antica Olivaia means eating together with other guests from all over the world – family style – and sharing good food and life experiences under the magical moon along with the fireflies.

DINNERS

We would be delighted to cook for you during your farm stay and to share our cooking experiences with you. Dinners are served on several nights during the week and must be reserved beforehand (esp. for new arrivals on the evenings dinners are served).

Dinners are composed of a fixed 4 course menu with plenty of Orvieto Classico and Sangiovese wine, water, coffee and homemade liqueurs included. Some times barbecues are organized as well. Prices vary depending on the menu and ingredients used. If you have special dietary needs (i.e. vegetarian), then please inform us beforehand to see if these needs can be accommodated accordingly. Lunch is not served.

All meals are cooked by Marco using the farm’s own vegetables, fruit and extra virgin olive oil – all of which come from our organic garden, fruit orchards and the 700 tree olive grove.  Other ingredients used in our meals are  sourced regionally and locally and have not travelled more than 1 kilometer to get to your table.  Meals are served family style at one long table in the dining room on the veranda.  Informal cooking classes can be organized upon request in our kitchen and are usually part of dinner preparation (like pasta making).

Some Orvieto specialties that you could try during your farm stay:  extra virgin olive oil produced by our very own olive groves, umbrichelli (a local type of thick spaghetti made only with flour & water), black truffles, handmade pecorino cheese, sheep’s milk ricotta, porcini mushrooms, Umbrian salamis and prosciutto, local cannellini beans and lentils, and saffron.

OLIVE GROVE

oliveOur estate possesses 7 hectares of verdant land, forests, and approximately 700 olive trees spread out over four of those hectares in 3 separate groves.  These awe-inspiring, eternal trees lend a sense of peace and strength like no other tree.  Many of ours are at least one hundred years old and some are even 300-500 years old (visit Lola on your walk in the olive grove!).  Their wood is invaluable and hard to find as it is not a tree that dies easily.  When it is used for carving objects, the beauty of its wood is incomparable.

However, their main function is the olives they produce year after year. These olives are predominantly of the Moraiolo cultivar but the Leccino, Frantoio and Leccio del Corno cultivars are also present in our groves in order to create a well-balanced olive oil.  The trees are pruned annually and fertilized with organic manure or other organic fertilizer; the important point is no pesticides are used thus safeguarding the environment and the oil they produce and that eventually we ingest.  Our olives groves are certified under the SQNPI system for integrated production according to EU regulations and are inspected annually.

If Mother Nature permits, the olives are harvested at the end of October and throughout November with the use of long combs and nets placed underneath.  They are taken to the local mill as quickly as possible where they are cold pressed mechanically with particular attention paid to the pressing/blending process and pressing temperature.  The extra virgin olive oil we produce is one of the best in the Orvieto area with an intense green-gold color and a unique taste with hints of nuts, chicory, grass and artichokes and a final spicy kick.

The extra virgin olive oil produced by Antica Olivaia comes exclusively from our olives (mono-orchard) and for this reason it is of a very high standard.  This “green gold” is used by us in the preparation of all the guests’ meals.  Guests can also purchase it directly on site packed in aluminum tins – 250 ml, 500 ml, and 1 liter quantities – that can be easily packed in a suitcase and given to friends as gifts!

We look forward to having you taste our extra virgin olive oil and tasting the difference….

ORGANIC GARDEN

An organic vegetable garden was created behind the swimming pool of the farmhouse and all types of vegetables are planted every spring such as:  peppers, beans, zucchini, lettuce, radishes, chard, spinach, beets, squash, pumpkins, carrots and an international variety of hot chili peppers to spice up our life!  Next to them the bigger tomato plants have been placed in traditional rows.  We plant 5-6 different varieties every year like San Marzano, pachino, datterino, ciliegino, cuore di bue & terraioli.  Various types of flowers & aromatic herbs such as rosemary, sage, oregano, marjoram, basil, tarragon, peppermint and thyme along with marigolds and lavender have been planted in order to encourage pollination.  Bee hives with over 500,000 busy bees have been placed down in the olive grove to give pollination an even greater hand.

All the organic fruit trees around the farm – apricot, plum, pomegranate, wild apple, cherry, and fig – produce Antica Olivaia’s wonderful breakfast jams, in which no artificial substances or gelatins are used but only the natural pectin of the fruit itself, lemons and sugar.

Also, all around the country inn you will see wild fennel growing which is used to make a homemade liqueur and the flowers are also dried out and used as a wonderfully fragrant seasoning on roasts and baked potatoes.  The lavender around the pool is cut and dried and used as potpourri and in our cooking as well. Wild Roman mint grows spontaneously everywhere and is used for a salty seasoning esp. on artichokes and zucchini.  Tomatoes are used to make tomato sauce for use during the long winter months and the garden’s onions, chili peppers and green tomatoes are utilized for jams to accompany pecorino cheese.  The honey produced by our bees is served at breakfast along with fresh ricotta cheese made by our neighbor the old fashioned way.  Our lemons, wild fennel, rosemary, bay leaves, peppermint and walnuts are all used to make specific liqueurs like  limoncello, finocchietto and nocino, which are served at the end of dinner to all our guests.