Italy

La Tenuta di Spannocchia

Sunday, 15 ottobre 2006

After we all unpacked and settled into our rooms, Charlie took us for a walking tour through part of the estate. The Cinelli family, which has owned this land since the 1930s, decided to do their best not only to maintain the preservation of its history, but to return the land to its organic agricultural roots, making its systems as sustainable as possible. Agrotourism has proved to be quite helpful in raising income, but it is far from a profitable venture. It has been a huge task for Francesca Cinelli Stratton and her husband, Randall.

We first veered off the road into one of the olive orchards, which had a line of beehives at the back. Unfortunately, the olives weren’t quite ready for harvest, but Charlie fooled a couple of people into tasting them. Spannocchia did not have any olive oil for sale, but it uses the oil that it produces and supplements it with oil from other farms in the area. Teresa (right) did her project on olive and oil production.

Because of the marble, Italians call the unpaved roads of this region “white roads.” We ambled downhill on a stone-wall lined road, completely in awe of the scenery around us. There was the scent of wild mint and wild fennel permeating the air, and wildflowers and herbs all around our feet. Looking up and back, we were greeted by a grand view of Spannocchia (at top).

Then we walked through a gate into a vineyard, where the San Giovese grape harvest had just finished only a week before. There were some bunches of grapes on the ground at the ends of the rows, and we all had a taste. At the edge of the vineyard we walked along a row of fruit trees and suddenly I had a strong multi-sensual memory of the road leading up to my grandfather’s South Carolina farm, where he grew several kinds of fruit trees and a grapevined fence along a sandy road. My entire soul felt full – I don’t know how else to describe it.

On the other side of this road, leading up to one of the rental houses on the estate, a herd of sheep had been let into one of the harvested vineyards to graze. Later, an intern shepherdess led them into their safe haven for the evening.

This truly was a fairy tale place.

To be continued…

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