The good life? I am convinced that it can be found at La Fattoria Cerreto Libri in the little town of Pontassieve. For the past two weeks, each day has consisted of a perfect blend of work, rest, food, wine and conversation–none in excess and all of the highest quality.
The Villa, which has traceable origins in the 14th century, sits atop a hill with commanding views on three sides. Rows of olive trees and vines extend in every direction toward neighbouring farms and forests. Wildlife is protected in the region so it is common to see fagiani (pheasant), capriolli (small deer) and lepri (rabbits). There are also sounds of peacocks and roosters from a nearby hill and signs of herons nesting in the evergreen trees.
Each day we worked from 9.00 until 12.00, ate lunch, and worked again from 14.00 until 17.00. Most of our time was spent tying vines but I occasionally helped Salvatore mow the lawn, bottle wine, clean the beehives or prune olive trees. We listened to music in the vineyard and it made the experience completely surreal. Ella Fitzgerald, Ray Charles and Vivaldi have never sounded better.
Dinner began around 20.30 and extended long after dark. As Italian tradition dictates, meals were served in courses: Antipasto (bread, cheese), Primo Piatto (pasta), Secondo Piatto (meat, salad) and Dolcetto (fruit or gelato). At meals we were encouraged to eat everything on the table. After finishing a dish they often prompted me to “fare la scarpetta” which literally means to “do the little shoe.” In context it meant for me to soak up the extra sauce with a piece of bread. “Take the bread for a little walk in the pan” they would tell me.
The experience as a whole was fantastic and I am beginning to miss the farm already. Now I am in transit to Vicchio where I will work among Americans on an archaeological dig. More about that soon!