During the early summer of 2014, I spent about 40 days “on the road” in Italy, descending the entire peninsula from North to South. I started in Lake Como and ended in Palermo, Sicily, tasting my way through this culinary wonderland.
About ten days into my journey, I arrived at Fontanaro Organic farm in Paciano, on the border of Tuscany and Umbria. I was already a bit road-weary at that point of the trip, but the owner, Alina, greeted me warmly with plenty wine and pasta.
That meal was a fabulous blur, and after a good night’s sleep, I woke the next morning to a splendid sunrise and the full panorama of Fontanaro’s glory.
The front door of my villa spilled out onto a rolling, green countryside, like every postcard you’ve seen of rustic Italian bliss. Alina greeted me again (this time with coffee and fresh pastries from her kitchen), and we took a lazy stroll around the property as she explained the workings of her organic farm.
I had all kinds of questions. What exactly does it really mean to be “organic” anyway? And who verifies this? Is organic ALWAYS healthier? Are most Italian products these days organic?
One could almost be forgiven for overlooking these details, given the entire country’s reputation for culinary excellence.
But no, the more that I learned about the importance of organic farming and seasonal, local ingredients, the more became aware that many Italian producers, restaurants and foodie destinations in Italy use their culture’s exalted reputation to take advantage of less-informed tourists.
At Fontanaro, they don’t just “talk the talk.” They live it every day. It’s part of their history, and indeed the food and the recipes are part of their family.
Alina and I formed a friendship, and we’ve been in touch ever since. And so it didn’t take much coaxing to get her to share her recipes with me. Food is meant to be shared, after all, and the more people that you welcome to your table, the richer you become.
It’s with this spirit that I offer this free eBook to you. I strongly believe in the Italian philosophy, which embraces good food and good friends, making for a happier, healthier life. Alla vostra salute!