Monday, July 18, 2011

An Olive Oil Farm in Tuscany

When we were planning a trip to Florence last year, our friends Neil & Jenny over at Communal Table suggested we look into staying at an Agriturismo. The idea is to stay on a working farm or vineyard in the country that could be a simple B&B, a room in a family home or a full-out villa. We ended up at a century old villa in Tuscany that was also an olive oil farm called Villa Campestri. If you're thinking of visiting Florence, just one night in a country resort ( just outside of the city) like this one is an experience you will remember forever. Just check out the view from our room in the morning of the Tuscan hillside (above). It's all sunshine and fresh country air.

I got an up-close look at an olive tree (left). Took one bite and it was pretty gross. Better when it's in oil format for me. After an Italian charcuterie breakfast of assorted cheese, meat, bread, fruit and yogurt - we took to roaming around the property and explored the farm. The harvest takes place in November and guests can even plant an olive tree during their visit if they wish. Villa Campestri also offers cooking classes, olive oil tastings, olive oil massage therapy, painting courses, mountain bike rides and truffle hunting. Trust me when I say you won't be bored.
The records for the villa date back to the 13th century and had been held without one family over 700 years. It was sold to the present owner in 1989, restored and set-up as this gorgeous resort. We ate our breakfast every morning on the sun-filled back patio (above).

An absolute must-do is the six-course Olive Oil Tasting Menu which was quite possibly one of the best meals I have ever eaten in my life. Dinner started with three different types of olive oil to taste from Italy, Spain and Greece. The glass vessel should be warmed in your hands first so the oil reaches room temperature. We spooned a bit on our plate and sopped it all up with fresh crusty Italian bread.
Next course included bruschetta four ways, all with a drizzle of olive. That sun-dried tomato at the back was pure perfection. The de-constructed bruschetta in the back right was liquid heaven, all of it showcasing the olive oil grown right there.
A pasta duo of tomato penne and ravioli
Crispy chicken fried in olive oil, let off a different sort of flavour with lots of depth. It was paired with a steak Florentine covered in large, buttery pieces of parmaseano-reggiano cheese.
The olive oil dispensing machine. It's been to the Vatican and back. The Pope approves. If you do travel to Florence, please, please, please do not miss a visit to this Tuscan gem. The rooms are quite spacious with old antique furniture, a mini-bar, free WiFi and spotless bathrooms with olive oil soaps and shampoo. An outdoor swimming pool with sun loungers are also on-site.
Villa Campestri Olive Oil Resort in Tuscany, Italy
Tel: 055/8490108

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