Biodiversity for us is of prime importance.
The well cared-for vegetable gardens that you discover while walking in Apella, are the signs of small-scale “peasant” agriculture, now almost lost but which we wish to preserve. These areas are planted each year with seeds taken from previous crops, passed down the years.
We use traditional, local varieties which run the risk of otherwise being lost to posterity, and they are grown without the use of synthetic chemicals, fertilizers etc, using only natural materials and manure from our farm. Ours is, therefore, a farm which follows strict organic rules, respecting nature and its biodiversity, absolutely in keeping with the area, which to date has managed to limit the serious problem of hydro-geological instability inherent in the abandonment of the territory.
We manage in excess of 600 hectares including vegetable gardens, pastures, meadows, chestnut woods and other woodlands. They constitute an important legacy which deserves to be protected and enhanced through high quality agriculture, breeding free range or semi-free range traditional breeds, which in turn limit the advance of the wood and maintain the meadow-pasture, slowing down and reducing the loss of many native plant varieties or others which have resulted from centuries of human interaction.
We maintain a variety of crops including mountain potatoes, Treschietto onions, “antique” ottofile maize, aromatic and medicinal herbs, plus olives, chestnuts, fruit and berries. We have free range and semi-free range cows (mainly Limousin, very suitable for rough patches of land), sheep (Zeri lamb, Slow Food) and pigs (Cinta Senese), as well as free range courtyard animals such as chickens, ducks, geese and Guinea fowl.
Ongoing flour production has only been made possible as a result of maintaining ancient traditions dating back to when the chestnut tree was called the “bread tree” since it provided the food and livelihood of the people of the Apennines.
Our produce is used in the restaurant kitchen, to guarantee freshness and authenticity, where the role of the chef and his staff is not only to cook well, but also to help save a local food chain, preserve endangered breeds and provide testimony to the gastronomic wealth and scenic beauty of the area through the food he puts on the table.
Our guests can spend a pleasant holiday or just enjoy a lunch or dinner, with the knowledge that while eating and drinking well, they are making an important contribution to the preservation of traditions and the environment.
Lunigiana chestnut flour DOP and organic honey are the main products of our farm. They are also two food “ambassadors” for Lunigiana, both the end product of a delicate chain of natural processes, put at risk each year by parasites such as gall wasps which affect the chestnut tree and varroa mites which can seriously damage honey bees. This is in addition to adverse weather conditions which often limit production.
The story of the flour starts with caring for the chestnut trees around Apella and Taponecco and continues with the collection and selection of the best local varieties of chestnuts. These are then processed using the traditional method of slow drying, burning only chestnut wood, for over a month, without stopping day or night, in ancient drying houses called metati or “gradili”. Afterwards, they are ground with millstones in traditional water mills.
It is as a result of this method of production, combined with dedication to the work and a passion for the rediscovery of local traditions, that our chestnut flour turns into such a unique product of the highest quality. It has the strong sweet flavour and intense aroma of sweet chestnuts, the texture of talcum powder, ivory in colour, which allows a great versatility of uses in the kitchen. Our chef is delighted to create dishes each day made with chestnut flour, revisiting and adapting the ancient recipes of the area.
Our organic honey is born in a natural unspoilt, natural oasis. The rich biodiversity of the area and the absence of conventional farming with chemical fertilizers and other forms of pollution, together with the organic certification to protect the consumer, guarantee a product of high quality and authenticity with a unique flavour reflecting the area of origin.
Each year in late spring, Barbara and her father Mario collect honey from hives spread around the woods of Apella and Taponecco, in Lunigiana, then transfer it to the company premises, where simple mechanical centrifuges extract the otherwise unaltered honey from the combs and package it ready for immediate consumption.
Depending on the time of year and the plants in flower, we produce wildflower honey, acacia honey and chestnut flower honey. Chestnut flower honey is our main product, both in terms of quantity, given the abundance of chestnut trees, but also in terms of organoleptic quality and taste. It is a product with an incredible aroma of chestnut, intense and amber coloured, which goes well with the local sheep’s cheese, or to add to the enjoyment of pork and lamb cooked in local style, but it also can be enjoyed alone or used to sweeten tea or herbal infusions for a total immersion in the authentic flavours of Lunigiana.