I had the sneaking suspicion we were in the wrong parking lot. We had just arrived in San Casciano in Val di Pesa, a small town in Tuscany, to meet with Arianna and Alessio from KM Zero Tours. We were a few minutes late so I was alarmed when I didn’t see them. I texted Arianna and, sure enough, it was the wrong parking lot. She sweetly assured me that she and Alessio would be right over as they were very close. Before long, a van pulled up beside us and out hoped Arianna, all smiles and hugs. After a warm greeting, she instructed us to follow them to a nearby restaurant by the name of A Casa Mia.
We entered the small country trattoria with a table waiting for us. Read more →
To experience Italy from a local perspective, discover it’s ancient traditions and feel the passion of the local artisans and producers who cherish the entire life of the product, from farm to table….this is clearly the real Italy.
Arianna Cini, who operates KM Zero Tours in Chianti, works closely with local producers and artisans who cherish the tradition and old ways of Tuscany. Her dedication to sharing “a restorative experience for body and soul” with others is impressive. So when I saw this video about the wheat harvest in Tuscany posted by Arianna, I was greatly inspired. It wasn’t the camaraderie alone in the video that caught my attention, although I loved watching these Italians work so well together, but it was more….
It was their deep desire to work closely with the land and embrace the old ways of growing and harvesting ancient grains.
I decided to research a little further about wheat-growing in the village of Montespertoli and discovered an exciting story. Until roughly 8 years ago, bread was made by locally grown wheat consisting of modern varieties. It lacked the unique features desirable in a hearty, aromatic loaf of bread everyone loves.
At that time, Prof. Stefano Benedettelli from the University of Florence researched the ancient wheat varieties and contacted miller Gianni Paciscopi from Montespertoli. Together they worked to find farms that would grow these ancient grains and to regain the knowledge of the old ways of processing wheat into bread, which had been lost. The producer, miller, pasta maker and baker began to reestablish their working connection, once again using the stone-grinding mills.
A three-year crop rotation is used to keep the wheat-growing land fertile and healthy. The results have been met with great satisfaction by both the producers and consumers as the loaves of bread are far superior in both taste, texture and health benefits. As one of the top producers of wine and olive oil in Tuscany, making bread using ancient, local grains has become a high priority in Montespertoli.
It remains a challenge to produce the wholesome ancient wheat as farms continue to feel the pressure to cut costs while many of the consumers continue to purchase cheaper products as a result of their decreased purchasing abilities. However, farms remain that are dedicated to keeping the old ways alive and embrace the production of high-quality wheat.