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A short distance from the port of the village of Porto Ercole, a family-owned bakery and confectionery with the name of «il forno del porto» meaning «the oven of the port» is located. Inside, artisans are turning ingredients like flour, water, salt and baker’s yeast into various types of bread, pizzza and rolls. Likewise, ingredients like eggs, butter, sugar, flour of both grain and chestnut, various types of Mediterranean herbs and dried fruits are used to make sweets with names like fiorellini, ciambelle, tozzetti, chestnut cake, etc. As regards Italian sweets, they have different names in differing parts of the country. Thus, fiorellini, which look like small cookies  may be made in more or less the same way, in, say, Puglia, but they may have a different name.

Arriving about 5 in the morning, the only other living beings we saw on our way from Orbetello to Porto Ercole were some roe deer. Although it was quite cold outside, the two bakers, Luigi and Marco, were wearing shorts and T-shirts because of the heat from the bakery ovens. Anyway, they had already been working for several hours, busily making bakery products which would be shown in the adjacent bakery shop ready for being bought by the locals of this village.

Since the Neolithic Revolution, when man started doing selective breeding of cereals bakers have been making bread. Like always upon entering a craft bakery, artisans are turning out bakery products at high speed, seemingly without getting tired, while at the same time being surrounded by the pleasant smell of dough being turned into bread in a nearby oven, while freshly made breads are being cooled on shelves, baskets, etc. Briefly, it’s always a pleasure to visit an artisan bakery making the food we could hardly do without.

Upon our arrival, Luigi had prepared various metal plates with pieces of flat, round dough, which were called pizzette. He poked some of them with the tips of his fingers, then he spread a layer of tomato purée on top of them.

On other pieces of rectangular dough, he was poking it with his fingertips, creating evenly spread wells on the surface. Then, he applied a layer of olive oil with a pastry brush. Next, he peeled some potatoes and used a food cutter to cut them in flat pieces, which he distributed evenly on top of the dough. On other ones, he put either pieces of onion or anchovies. While preparing various types of pizza and focaccia he regularly had to put pieces of dough in the oven and extract finished bakery products.

At the same time, Marco was making croissants: first he put some dough in a press, which both compressed the dough and cut it into hexagonal shapes. Next, he laid one of the shapes at a time in a dough roller, which first compressed the dough, then, rolled it around, forming some kind of croissant. When all the bits of dough had been compressed and rolled, Luigi put them in a bakery oven and, when they had been baked, he took them out again, made a cut in each one of them and put some sour cream in each cut.

We also watched Marco mix white flour with semolina, sugar, dark and light malt on a scales , make a whole in the mixture and fill it with olive oil. Next, he poured all of it into a kneading machine into which he aslso poured water and two pieces of wholewheat dough, one dark and one light. Finally, he turned on the machine in order to make dough, which would be used to make whole wheat bread.

I imagine that whole wheat bread come from northern Europe because it was nearly impossible t find it only a few years ago, while white bread was available everywhere.

Not surprisingly, Marco and Luigi also find it difficult to bake in high humidity. It seems like all artisan bakers just have to try whatever works in such conditions, while they can do it easily when it’s dry.

Approaching 7 in the morning, Marco and Luigi were about to finish a night’s work, meaning that we left, but we should come back around 10 when Sabina, the wife of Luigi, would be making sweets. In fact, upon our arrival she was making a cake consisting of two layers of dough separated by a layer of sour cream. Next, she applied Nutella on top of the upper layer of dough and spread it evenly across the whole surface. Then, she rolled the layers, ending up with a layer cake, which she called a trunk.

Like the bakers, Sabrina also used the dough roller frequently in order to compress the dough and make it flat. Afterwards, she laid the dough on a bench and put a circular disk on top of it. Next, she

led a wheel roller cutter along the stencil, forming circular pieces of dough. Then, using a toothed roller, she made small depressions in the dough. Finally, she put each piece of dough in a round metal shape

Afterward, she mixed ricotta from a local dairy, called Caseificio Sociale Manciano, with eggs, sugar, red wine and chocolate pellets. After having mixed all the ingredients thoroughly, she put the mix on the circular-shaped pieces of dough, using a spatula to spread it evenly across the surface of each one. Actually, it would take one more day to finish this cake, but she let us see the final result, a delicious-looking cake covered by powdered sugar and chocolate powder.

Before we left, Sabina told us that instead of formal education, she has taken some confectionery courses on how to select the most suitable and fresh ingredients, how to combine them and turn them into cakes, pastries and biscuits, how to apply liquids, etc. Anyway, she has mostly learnt by being passionate about her work and by learning on her own.

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La Parrina farm

by admin on 11/11/2016

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The La Parrina farm was founded in 1830 by the Florentine banker Michele Giuntini when a large part of Maremma was covered by marshes and malaria was one of the principal causes of death among the locals. Labourers didn’t have any rights at all and all the farms practised sharecropping. This situation continued until 1950 when there was an agrarian reform in Italy. Then, the State expropriated two thirds of the property of the Giuntini family in order to give it to sharecroppers who were turned into owners of small pieces of land, while the property of the Giuntini family was reduced from 1800 to 600 hectares.

Anyway, about 185 years after its foundation, la Parrina has become a large farm, relatively speaking, with a wide range of agricultural products. Thus, our visit in November allows just a snapshot of the wide range of activities which take place at this farm. In order to get a deeper understanding of what’s happening, it would be necessary to visit at various times from seeding to growing to harvesting.

Our guide Massimiliano showed us the wine cellar where must was slowly turning into wine in big contaiers of concrete and stainless steel. Next, we entered a room where lots of oak barrels containing wine were stored. In this way, flavours of the oak will get mixed with the wine .

The wines, which are made at La Parrina, were also exhibited in the same room:

Various white wines, all of them being DOC or IGT, but they aren’t organic. However, integrated farming is practised at this farm, meaning a low environmental impact such that use of fertilisers and pesticides is kept to a minimum..

Naturally, we went to the farm shop where all the products of this farm are on sale: fresh sheep’s cheese, sheep’s cheese with or without herbs which has been ripened. Goat’s cheese, cow’s cheese, fresh ricotta cheese and yogurt , various types of pasta and bread, jams, wines, vinegar , sweets and cosmetics derived from plants grown on the farm. At the start of our visit, we were served a selection of wines together with various cheeses, a delicious experience. During the tasting, our guide Massimiliano talked about how mixing various types of grapes gives a particular wine and how milk is turned into cheese. Next, we got a taste of olive oil and bread, both of them originating from this farm.

Moreover, there many other types of food and drink like flour, grappa, meat, honey, fruit preserves, sour cream and peach nectar.

In order to complete our visit, we also paid a visit to the animals of the farm. A roost contained a wide variety of poultry, mainly various types of chicken like Ancona chicken  and Millefiori di Lonigo, but also turkeys. Next, we arrived at a pond where geese were honkng and ducks were swimming.

After having passed various orchards and vineyards, we arrived at where cows, goats and sheep were kept in separate pens.

We rounded off our visit by going to the hotel, which was situated in the manor, which was built in the 1830s. In the same building, there was a restaurant and an adjacent garden where one can have dinner below ancient linden trees and where bands are playing classical and other types of music in summer.

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Rosati Cesare farm

8 November 2016
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A family-owned sheep farm.

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Dairy cooperative «Caseificio Sociale Manciano»

7 November 2016
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A dairy cooperative which produces a wide range of sheep’s cheeses.

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Olive oil mill of Arienti Elia

5 November 2016
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A traditional olive oil mill using millstones.

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Rustici farm

5 November 2016
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A family-owned farm which makes a wide range of agricultural products.

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La Scapigliata farm

4 November 2016
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A farm where guests can enjoy eating outside listening to live jazz bands.

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Fishermen’s union of Porto Santo Stefano

3 November 2016
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A fish auction where fresh fish is auctioned and brought to markets in Italy.

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Agrotourism Doganella

2 November 2016
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A farm with a small flock of goats and three donkeys.

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Fatarelli Agriculture

2 November 2016
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A small company, which grows and sells vegetables in Italy.

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Harvesting olives

1 November 2016
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A family who has a small olive grove on their property.

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Snail farm

1 November 2016
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A family who has turned a field into a small snail farm.

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Olive oil mill «Terre di Capalbio»

31 October 2016
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A family-owned olive oil mill where high quality olive oil is made.

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Jacobelli liquori

31 October 2016
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A small family-owned company producing a large range of beverages.

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Agrialbergo Capalbio

31 October 2016
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A guesthouse combined with producing agricultural products in the countryside .

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Haymaking at Flåret in Lier

25 August 2016
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Haymaking on a small meadow in the middle of a forest.

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Eve’s community garden

14 August 2016
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A small community garden where owners grow edible plants and harvest them later.

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Antonio Vence – vermouth producer

9 June 2016
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A man who is making high quality vermouth at affordable prices.

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Gabriela Gorostiza – cook

8 June 2016
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A woman who enjoys cooking and who does catering.

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Chocolates de Mendaro – chocolate producer

8 June 2016
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A small family-owned company where choclate has been produced for more than 150 years.

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