Italy

Poggio Antico

Wednesday, 18 ottobre 2006

After an early breakfast and a spectacular sunrise, we all got on a rented bus to go to a biodynamic farm, Poggio Antico, and then to San Gimignano for a much anticipated field trip.

This day was bittersweet for me – my excitement about riding through the hills of Tuscany and seeing all the beautiful landscapes turned to horror when I became extremely carsick after only reaching the end of the road from Spannocchia. I could not look out the windows and struggled for a little over an hour not to get sick on my favorite jacket on the bus. I don’t remember ever being so sick in a situation that I could not stop and get out. It was sheer hell and I was doubly miserable because I was missing all the beautiful scenes of Tuscany that I was hearing discussed around me. All I could do was sweat and focus on not throwing up.

THAT was what I forgot to buy in Firenze. Dramamine. Again.

The bus driver was very unhappy about driving on the “white roads” and Charlie and Debby were in constant negotiation with him. “Next time you rent jeep!” he said over his shoulder as we hit a section like a washboard.

I stumbled off the bus at Poggio Antico green to the gills, but I made it through. Then I had to deal with it again on the way to San Gimignano, but this time it was not so long a ride and I sat in the front seat.

Poggio Antico was a lovely farm community. A lot of different foods are produced at Poggio Antico and you could buy many of their products on site. We went into a barn where dairy cows were, for various reasons, inside, and Roberto explained their philosophy, which I will not try to explain here because biodynamic agriculture is very complicated. I’ll just say that biodynamic farmers have particular methods and additives that they use to raise the vitality of the soil, and they are very attuned to nature.

Roberto told us about the process of growing, harvesting, and pressing the olives into oil in their modern frantoio (olive mill). Afterwards, we went into the farm’s store and bought olive oil, pasta, and other products to take back with us. Charlie and Debby bought a variety of cheeses for our picnic, which we tasted along with fresh fruit and salad. A big treat for Sandy and me was a bottle of raw milk that we shared, with just a little for one of the farm cats. Sandy was bowled over by the freshness and taste and so was I. But I grew up drinking raw milk – he had never tasted it. Hopefully we will get a chance to buy this legally in the coming year. Although it is illegal to sell raw milk in most U.S. states, including North Carolina, it is not illegal to drink milk from your own cow, and we may get a chance to buy a cow share from a local farmer.

To be continued…

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