The latest foreign correspondent is Midge Vreeland. Why, yes the last name IS similar. When I left Italy she was just arriving for a board of directors meeting at the Castello di Spannocchia outside Siena. Here’s her report from high on that Tuscan hilltop.
SIENA,Tuscany—The first of May, primo di Maggio, embraced the crowd gathered at Spannochhia, an organic farm outside Siena. Yellow roses and purple wisteria climbing the villa’s walls, new black and white belted Sienese piglets in their chestnut log huts with their moms, wooly white sheep and lambs frolicking in the meadows. It just made us want to dance. So we did. The Farm Manager and a young American intern working on the farm charmed us, performing with a traditional folk music group. Our luncheon buffet served outside in the courtyard displayed the wonderful Tuscan dishes that are provided by Spannocchia’s fields and animals. Talk about Slow Food. At Spannocchia, they first raise the food and only then do they get to prepare it. From Maine, Colorado, Wisconsin, Arizona we lucky Americans joined local Italians to applaud May, Spring, Italy.
When you are in the Siena area we hope you will plan to visit and enjoy Spannocchia’s environs and its bounty. By helping keep this medieval castello with its chestnut groves, olive trees and vineyards moving into the 21st century, we feel like we are paying back the country that through centuries has nurtured travelers from abroad. Here ancient grains are resurrected, almost extinct breeds of farm animals being brought back from the edge of oblivion. At Spannocchia it is all about sustainable agriculture in an increasingly plastic, rushrush, throw away world. The farm is a non-profit educational center staffed by a loyal mix of native Italians and enthusiastic interns from all over America.
On Spannocchia’s 1,200 hilltop acres you’ll find residential art, history, and cultural programs, hiking trails, a bed and breakfast and houses to rent for your family. You’ll also find a way to support, in even a small way, the cultural landscape of Italy that has filled a portion of our hearts — with beauty, romance, history, and peace. You can belong to this special place in Italy as a member of the Spannocchia Foundation. One of the great benefits of the nominal membership here, is that you can then rent and stay at this lovely retreat high in the Sienese hills. And, of course, be able to drop broad hints that during your vacation you will be off visiting friends in their castle. Oh, the Trip Envy your friends back home will have!
There are presently two Web sites about the estate: