Respecting the environment, land, history and culture…
At Italian Special Occasions DMC we value our partnerships with our suppliers, looking for a shared respect for the environment, art, culture and traditions. Now that spring has officially sprung we would like to introduce you to a few of our hidden gems and collaborators in La Maremma (southern Tuscany).
For our foodie fanatics out there let Italian Special Occasions DMC organise a cooking class or wine tasting at the beautiful Tenuta Marsiliana. The estate is only 25 minutes inland from the stunning Mediterranean coast and is nestled within an ancient woodland which is home to a diverse range of wildlife. The estate is owned by the Principe Corsini family and is also home to impressive vineyards producing Marsiliana wine.
Italian Special Occasions DMC spoke to Princess Giorgiana Corsini to ask about the history of the estate and divulge some of her foodie tips!
Would you be able to tell me a little bit about the history of the Tenuta Marsiliana?
The Corsinis settled in La Marsiliana in 1759. The estate is over 2,500 hectares with beautiful countryside and vineyards. We arrange guided tours of the castle, the cellars and we have a museum.
And the estate also produces wine is that correct?
Yes, 12 years ago we started to produce wine, previously there were no vineyards in that area of Tuscany. We realised that the climate and soil is very good for producing good wine. Now we have about 40 hectares of vineyards producing red and white wine.
The vines are the same vines used for in the Bordeaux region for making Bordeaux wine, so we produce Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot wines from the estate. We are very happy to show people our vineyards and host wine tastings.
It sounds like there is a lot to see…
We have a chapel, medieval tower and a museum which we opened in November 2013. We show a collection of all of the historical pieces from the estate. I have discovered them over the years and I became very curious about them, I decided to keep everything – each item has some significance or story about the estate. We have many saddles for horses and items from the farm, cheese-making equipment and kitchen tools. Each item is from the Marsiliana, some of the items had to be cleaned and many have been damaged because of how old they are but they are all authentic pieces.
I try very hard to make sure I keep things as they once were. I think it’s very important to share with people the work we do and the restoration work which we are carrying out.
You mentioned equipment for the kitchen and cheese-making, would you be able to tell us about your cooking classes?
I am restoring the stables and two of our halls and so I will soon begin cooking classes at La Marsiliana- it is something new to La Marsiliana which we have not done before. We will have new kitchens and I am really looking forward to this new project!
Do you have any favourite recipes?
I like intelligent but simple cooking- when I am hosting friends I want to be able to spend time in the sitting room with them as well as being able to cook. I am not keen on spending hours and hours in the kitchen. I like simple, practical and colourful cooking.
I have invented tricks which allow me to spend more time in the sitting room with my guests. My risotto is probably one of my favourites- I have a different approach, instead of turning, stirring and touching the risotto, I can leave it to cook by itself without it sticking. I use the same basic ingredients, but I pour the stock into the risotto in one go, instead of pouring it little by little as you are often instructed to do- this allows me to spend more time with my friends! I don’t like to hide all of my secrets and I am very willing to share them!
You mentioned a chapel on the estate- is it possible to host weddings and other events?
We have a lovely chapel and two big spaces and some lovely outdoor areas which can be used for weddings or special events. It’s a really beautiful setting.
Princess Giorgiana, thank you very much for speaking with us. We look forward to joining you for a cooking class in the future!
Cycle and See!
With longer days approaching and winter on its way out, some of you might fancy spending some time in the great outdoors and La Maremma is the perfect place to do so. Imagine something different such as a trip on two wheels with your friends and family, taking in the breath-taking landscape with informative and innovative guides who will show you the real Tuscany.
We spoke to Luciano from Bicievento who provide a range of unique bicycle tours throughout La Maremma territory…
Luciano, tell me a little bit about Bicievento and your philosophy
We are an association who organise day trips, weekend trips or vacations within La Maremma territory. We explore the territory of La Maremma on bicycle and also on foot.
What separates Bicievento from all of the other tour companies out there? What makes you different?
We take a different approach to the territory, we like to take the time to explain and offer some insight into the botanic, historical and geological side of territory- we like to share the history of La Maremma.
We try to work with the environment, minimising the environmental impact of travel and encouraging as many people as possible to cycle. We also work alongside other organisations which are environmentally friendly. We take more of a cultural approach, explaining what we show, how things are made, the background of the communities and sites we visit.
We organise trips for a range of different levels and abilities, for example trips for people who maybe do not cycle regularly. We also incorporate travel on trains so people can see the territory in a different way instead of being stuck inside a tour bus. We also make suggestions for what people can see or do when they have finished our tours, we put people in contact with other likeminded associations such as the slow-food movement. We might recommend somewhere you can drink a nice aperitivo and learn how the wines are made and where they come from.
We try to promote local cultural events and traditional festivals, and encourage links between local organisations so that our groups can experience a more human side of visiting a territory, less commercialised. We like the idea that a vacation should be more of a unique and personal experience.
Do you have a favourite tour that you like to take people on?
We have a range of tours, a few days or one day or half a day. One of our most popular trips is our one day tour around Orbetello Lagoon.
Part of the tour is over a very flat area of the lagoon, we explain the different vegetation of the lagoon and the marine side, then onto the ancient Roman city of Cosa which is a very beautiful ruin which is relatively unknown as it’s difficult to reach via bus.
You can choose to cycle all the way or walk part of the way, once we reach the site there’s a beautiful view of the Argentario skyline and mountains.
Luciano thank you for speaking to us- happy cycling!
Tucked away on the outskirts of the small village of Fonteblanda lies La Scapigliata, a unique farm and cultural centre. We spoke to Guido who owns La Scapigliata with his wife Aurelia…
Guido it seems like you offer a selection of different things at La Scapigliata, would you be able to tell us a little more about what you do and when you opened La Scapigliata?
We began in 2005- with 46 hectares land, the land was almost abandoned. We introduced organic vegetables and agriculture. We began producing ice cream and we are now developing more agricultural projects.
We have a restaurant where we use our own produce and ingredients which are grown or farmed here at La Scapigliata, we have a shop where we sell our produce such as goats cheese, and products from our special breed of black pigs (they are from the UK and we have crossed them with some local Italian pigs!), and we also produce our own olive oil. It’s great for the kids to see the animals and the farm.
We also have two renovated stables. One stable shows an exhibition on Etruscan jewellery and the other is a space for live music.
Guido tell me a little more about the stables and the events that take place there…
Between the years 1985 – 2000 two jewellers from Grosetto tried to learn and master old techniques for jewellery production. They reproduced between thirty-five to forty copies of the most well-known and important Etruscan pieces which are exhibited in national museums around the world such as the British Museum and Metropolitan Museum. When the jewellers completed their project they exhibited the pieces at the Museum of Art and Archaeology nearby in Grosseto for a few months, but then afterwards they put the pieces away in a shoebox and that was it, they were left for 15 years! We found out about these pieces and we proposed an exhibition of the pieces at La Scapigliata and they agreed! We have a virtual library and also a projector showing holograms of the pieces we exhibit. Some of the metal-work is so delicate and detailed that it’s difficult to see with the naked eye. Using the hologram projector it’s possible to see the incredible work that goes into creating these beautiful pieces.
The other barn we have transformed into a space for Jazz concerts and live music. Recently we had a series of four concerts where we suggested to the musicians that they could improvise and create some pieces based on the nature and birdsong of the local area. It really was something special- we will try to produce an LP or CD with all of the contributions from the different groups at the end of our season in June.
It seems you place a lot of focus on local and seasonal produce, why is this important?
Well we certainly look to products or produce which is native to the environment. Whether something is local is maybe less important.
We try to find something typical or reinvent something typical. The fact that something is locally produced doesn’t necessarily mean it’s good. We try to find something typical and introduce something from another territory using local ingredients. We try to take good ideas from elsewhere, and transform or adapt things using local ingredients or materials.
In terms of the food we produce, seasonality is very easy for us. We always have something different to offer, even within the same season the offerings are often different. Everything comes from our own garden, and so seasonality is important. The vegetables and fruit may change every two weeks which means the dishes and food we serve are often different.
What are your plans for the future?
We are starting production of Aleatico wine which used to be the typical wine of the area, but nobody is producing it in this region anymore. This wine originated from the Island of Elba but became a popular wine in La Maremma but became less so over the years.
One of our main projects for the future is that we are going to have a type of agricultural theme park or experience. Visitors can learn about the range of production and agricultural techniques from the area and the Mediterranean region.
It sounds like you have a lot of exciting plans for the future of La Scapigliata, we look forward to hearing all about it- thank you for speaking to Italian Special Occasions DMC!
Let us show you the undiscovered…
We share a common passion with all of our suppliers. We think it’s vital we show you something different, unknown and special about the Italy we love. Our suppliers and collaborators are hand-picked, ensuring we share the same common passion for the land, environment, art and culture.
Contact Italian Special Occasions DMC for your free customised quote!
Tenuta Marsiliana Castle, Maremma Tuscany
Wine cellar at Tenuta Marsiliana
Historic buildings at Tenuta Marsiliana
Cycling in the Maremma woods with Bicievento
Etruscan Exhibition at La Scapigliata in Maremma