As Florence suffers one of the hottest Summers that I can remember in many years, my family, like many Florentines alike have taken the kids and headed out of the city. After having spent so much time at the coast, we decided to take the boys to an Agriturismo, the Fattoria Poggio Alloro for a few days. Located 40km from Florence, in San Gimignano where you can admire some of the most beautiful and typical Tuscan landscapes, the views from Fattoria Poggio Alloro will not disappoint you either. Set up on a hill with an enviable vantage point, the surrounding vistas are breathtaking and the 360-degree views of vineyards, olive groves and the iconic towers of San Gimignano on the distant hill are spectacular no matter what time of day you are admiring them.
Owned by the Fioroni family since 1972 after years of hard work on the property by the three brothers, Umberto, Amico & Bernardo, who first arrived from the Marche region of Italy to Tuscany in 1955, the restored farmhouse is the perfect Tuscan retreat where you will be spoilt by the welcoming hospitality, incredible organic food (all ingredients coming from their property) and generosity of the Fioroni family. The property is now managed by Amico’s daughter Sarah, a chef, cooking instructor, sommelier and author. It was in fact via her book, ‘A Family Farm in Tuscany’ that I discovered the Fattoria and decided that it would be a great place to go with the family.
This self-sustaining organic farm is everything that I love about Tuscany – the families hard work and respect for the land ensure that they benefit from fresh produce when it is in season and at its best. I was lucky to arrive on the day that the tomatoes were being bottled. A tradition close to my heart as it is something that my Italian family still does each year in Australia. Rosa, Maria and Amico were sat around a huge tub slicing tomatoes before they had basil added and were then bottled and boiled. Simple ingredients but when the produce is natural, organic and the tomatoes are as good as the ones from Amico’s Orto, you know that you are going to have the best ‘sugo al pomodoro’ ever!
The Fattoria Poggio Alloro boasts vineyards, olive groves, cereal crops, wood, fruit trees, vegetables, saffron, rabbits, chickens, pigs and their own herd of Chianina beef cattle, one of the oldest breeds in the world and known for the famous Bistecca Fiorentina. An incredible property where all produce is cultivated following an organic agricultural practice. A self-sustaining farm that is also home to 35 beehives for the production of honey and olive groves that produce the Poggio Alloro Extra Virgin Olive Oil. At the moment the orto (vegetable garden) is full of tomatoes, eggplant, capsicum, watermelon, zucchini and celery but unfortunately due to the incredibly hot temperatures this past month, many of the crops have not had a chance to ripen fully before being burnt by the sun.
It is nearly time to harvest the grapes and the careful selection of the grapes ensures the unique characteristics of the Poggio Alloro wines. The vinification takes place on the property where they produce the Vernaccia of San Gimignano DOCG, the Chianti DOCG and Vin Santo amongst many other wines. You can experience a wine-tasting while at the Fattoria which can also be accompanied by the farm’s own prosciutto.
One of our highlights during our stay was the incredible meals that will certainly not leave you hungry. Our first dinner started with a fresh panzanella (bread salad) made with fresh tomatoes, celery and basil direct from the orto. We then had bruschetta, fried polenta with wide boar ragu, homemade prosciutto and a delicious vegetable flan with one of the best pastry crusts I have ever eaten. This was then followed by Risotto with vegetables from the garden and organic saffron from the farm. For our second course, we had the most incredible roast chicken and rabbit with roast potatoes and fresh salad – incredibly tender and so full of flavour; a testament once again to the organic farming practised here. We then squeezed in a delicious dessert of Panna Cotta served with fresh peach sauce and of course some of the local vin santo wine with cantuccini biscuits. All of this wonderful food was of course accompanied by the very good Poggio Alloro wines. For lunch the next day, we enjoyed a delicious farro (barley) salad followed by homemade tagliatelle con ragu.
You can also take part in cooking classes run by Sarah and I know that these are a highlight for many of the guests that visit. Learn to prepare the traditional, family recipes that have been passed down through the Fioroni family for many generations!
Our two young boys, Matteo nearly 6 and 3 year-old Thomas loved the farm and Matteo asked if we could stay for the next ’60 days’! Their highlight was of course the animals but they were also fascinated by seeing the vegetables growing and picking their own tomatoes under the watchful eye of Amico. Thomas was even fortunate enough to be given a huge tomato to take home and which we enjoyed for lunch yesterday!
We were also very happy to be able to take home some bottles of the Poggio Alloro wine. You can also buy their olive oil, saffron and Sarah’s beautiful book which shares the history, wonderful family recipes and a seasonal account of living on the farm that you will make you want to visit every month of the year!
Fattoria Poggio Alloro
Via Sant’Andrea 23
53037 SAN GIMIGNANO
Tel . +39 0577 950153 www.fattoriapoggioalloro.com – firstname.lastname@example.org