Graduate Students in the Food Studies program traveled to Todi on November 5th to spend the day visiting two agriturismi in the Umbrian hills.
The day began with a visit to Colle delle Querce Agriturismo, which consists of two restored stone villas that host up to 10 guests, and sit upon 7 1/2 hectares of idyllic Umbrian farmland. In a relatively small amount of space, this agriturismo boasts over 500 olive trees, a small vineyard, and a vegetable garden, all of which are used by the hosts, and enjoyed by the guests. The land and the house are managed by Carlo Ferrari and Ellen Klein, who started the agriturismo as a way of reconnecting with the land, and sharing it with others. Ferrari and Klein consider themselves to be “lifestyle entrepreneurs,” who have dedicated their lives to preserving and sharing traditional practices. Ferrari’s father was a farmer, and he says that he found it “very natural to return to the land.” The olive grove and small vineyard produce enough oil and wine each season for the couple to enjoy themselves, share with their guests and family, and sell to neighbors and friends.
Students walked between the rows of olive trees and tried their hand at raking olives from the branches with Ferrari’s cousins, who help tend the grove during harvest. The visit ended with a gathering in the kitchen to enjoy wine from the farm, and bruschetta topped with fresh, bright green olive oil that had been pressed only days previously.
The group then traveled to La Solfarola Agriturismo, where they enjoyed a traditional Umbrian lunch of cinghiale in umido con polenta di farro in the hotel’s restaurant. After a typically long Italian-style lunch, the students, armed with a small cup of limoncello or grappa (homemade, of course), enjoyed a tour of the farm, where the family keeps cows and sheep, in addition to a vegetable garden. All of the food grown on the farm is served in the restaurant, and sold in a shop on site.
La Solfarola sits on 130 hectares of land and hosts up to 30 guests. Similarly to Colle delle Querce, La Solfarola is run entirely by a family – mother, father, and two sons. The entire agriturismo is staffed by extended family members, and outside help is only hired during the summer when the farm, restaurant, and hotel needs a few extra hands.
The day’s excursion ended with a stop at the olive press where Ferrari gets the olives from the grove at Colle delle Querce pressed into oil. Several students purchased 5L jugs of the new oil to bring home, to savor the flavor of an autumn’s afternoon in Todi.
Written by Kate J. Truini