Relax at an Organic Farm in Tuscany
Editor's Note: Changes have been made since the following article was written, and La Cerrata no longer seeks volunteers but is now more a place for a relaxing holiday on an organic farm with a spa and other activities. Please see Volunteering at Organic Farms in Italy with WWOOF for volunteering options in Italy.
“Fear in society keeps us from expressing ourselves. Here, you are free. Express yourself!”
So begins a conversation with Daniele, one of the proprietors of the organic farm La Cerreta in rural Tuscany. Co-owners Daniele
and Vilma provides an empowering, hands-on experience of Tuscan farm-life, Italian language immersion, and the opportunity to learn about organic agriculture, green building, and a strong conservation ethic. It’s also a simple, inexpensive,
and unbelievably rewarding vacation. At La Cerreta, they seek to live, as they say, “in harmony with nature.” Daniele and Vilma cultivate a place where people can “get to know themselves better,” work in cooperation
with one another, and focus on sustainability rather than consumerism.
La Cerreta sits in the Pian delle Vigne (“of the vines”) wine country, 15 kilometers (9 miles) from the Mediterranean, nestled in the Tuscan hills. Daniele and Vilma grow everything organically, certified
by the Italian Association for Organic Agriculture. Better still, all fruits, vegetables, and animals are local to the Maremma region. The farm’s 31 hectares (about 77 acres) of fertile ground grow a bounty of food: olive orchard,
purple and white grapes, pomegranate and apple trees, maroni chestnut groves, and rows of tomatoes, peppers, lettuce, cabbage, squash, eggplant, melons, and strawberries. Cows provide milk and tender organic beef; the native cinta senese pigs
root in the mud; cavalli maremmani horses roam the fields; and Livornese chickens lay fresh eggs woven into pasta dishes. As if that weren’t enough, the farm even hosts honey bees!
While farm work is hard, farm life seems simpler, stripped to filling the basic necessities of living. Food, then, is the major focus of every day. Nearly everything grown gets eaten on the farm by Daniele, Vilma, their two
sons (who help run the farm), the farm helpers, or by guests at La Cerreta.
Vilma, a sturdy woman with an angelic smile, makes marmalade for sale at the on-site store and nearby markets. Strawberry, melon, grape, and chestnut jams are just a few of the delectable varieties. Other products
include fresh made soft and hard cheeses, virgin honey, hazelnut liquor, and prosciutto. Low-sulfite red and white wines, crafted at the farm from prized Sangiovese, Merlot, Cabernet, and Vermentino grapes, fill out the store.
One of the great benefits of staying at La Cerreta is the heavenly meals cooked up by Vilma (who owned a restaurant) and women who work on the farm. Eating in Italy is an experience: meals often lingering for hours
and hours, carafes of the farm’s red wine filled, emptied, and filled again; Daniele holding forth about modern society, agriculture, or whatever topic happens to strike his fancy that day. Two courses (often followed by a third), homemade
pasta, fresh baked bread, and cheese are typical fare for lunch and dinner. In the dishes Vilma uses seasonal produce, meat slaughtered and processed on the farm, and food gathered from the surrounding woods, such as mushrooms, herbs, wild plants
(nettles, juniper, chicory, borage, myrtle) and wild fruit (chestnuts, blackberries, rose hips, elderberries).
Events and Activites
La Cerreta hosts guests (mainly from Europe but occasionally from further afield), pottery workshops, language and cooking courses, and other events throughout the year. Daniele runs a horse program called Equiharmony,
where he works respectfully with the horse, using no riding crops, bits, or spurs, and instead using kindness and firmness.
Numerous trails and roads snake in all directions from the farm, situated in the forested hills. The medieval town of Sassetta, built into the cliff-side, is an easy 5-kilometer (3-mile) walk away. This area in Tuscany
is home to dozens of archeologically rich sites. Detailed illustrated trail maps and guides are available for free in town.
For More Information
Vilma Cigoli, La Cerreta: Localita Pian delle Vigne 57020 Sassetta (LI); www.cerreta.it. More information and contact info can be found on their website.