We are staying on Italy Farm, which on its website promises to be a self-sufficient organic farm in the mountains in Italy, between Rome and Naples. It’s a gorgeous family run place, run by a guy called Antonio, who somehow managed to convince his parents to open the farm for guests. Anyway, the farm itself was the most exquisite place. It’s a little family run place, with the mama, Maria who cooks, the Papa, Guiseppe who does the farm work, and a bunch of volunteers who work very hard in exchange for food, bed and farm knowledge.
They raise rabbits for meat (I rather squeamishly watched Guiseppe kill and skin rabbits and chooks for dinner… wondering if I could ever be brave enough to do the same), chooks for eggs and meat, olives which they press at the community press, grapes for their own homemade wine (yum! even I liked it!), and they have 2 enormous vegie patches. There were also goats and donkeys. My favourite thing was to follow Guiseppe around – he was the sweetest little man who spoke no English but with the help of mime we were able to communicate very well. He worked slowly and happily, singing as he drove the tractor or picked beans. In every corner of the farm he has a stash of homemade vino, which he drinks like water. It could explain the singing. Either way, he was a happy, sweet friendly drunk, and I have to say he was very respectful and efficient when it came to killing the rabbits and chooks. Jesse and Paula went for some very long tractor rides with him which was a real highlight of Jesse’s time at the farm.
Jesse asked if we could go horseriding, which we did. I tell you, it was nothing like horseriding in Australia, where beginners are given very passive slow old horses. These horses were as frisky, naughty as anything and there certainly weren’t any helmets in sight. Jesse had his moments on his own horse, which were rather terrifying, as it got all tangled up in ropes and bridles from another horse, but he hung on and all was fine in the end. We went through fields of blackberries and got nicely scratched, we saw ruins and very authentic old Italian women with a stick and her goats – it was straight out of a storybook. The big excitement came when my horse suddenly decided to gallop. I thought I was going to fall off. My hat flew off and I hung on for dear life. Finally managed to stop the horse without panicking TOO much… it was all very exciting and thrilling, and we were rather relieved not to have sustained any nasty injuries in the process.
Every day here is filled with incredible experiences such as this and I feel I have learnt so much which I’ll make use of when we get home. The only drawback to staying on the farm was the food. Unfortunately Maria is kind of stingy in her approach to serving guests, and frankly not a very good cook. Breakfast consists of stale white bread, coffee, and packaged jam (she only served homemade jam once). Not even butter. Lunch, had we ordered it, would have been more of the stale white bread with a minute amount of filling. Dinner, except for the night that Jesse, Paula and I took a pasta-making class with Maria, was packaged pasta with some kind of vegie-free sauce, followed by a rather stingy portion of vegetables. Basically it comes down to white flour as the bulk of every meal, which has been somewhat horrifying for all of us, as we hardly eat any white flour foods at home. My body has gone into shock. I’ve found ways around eating white flour – we convince Maria to make us some eggs at breakfast, at lunch we’d eat a
salad with tuna, and at dinner eat whatever Maria served us. I find myself longing for protein, for actual sustenance and nourishing food. Even in Rome before and after we went to the farm, we couldn’t find good food. I thought Italy was supposed to be the home of magnificent pasta! All we can find is packaged food served cold and unappetising.