Recently I had the pleasure of meeting Antonella Manuli. She’s a local businesswoman and the genius behind Fattoria La Maliosa.
Now, there are a lot of farms in the Maremma. More farms than people I’d say at times. But it’s not often that you come across one that really respects the traditions of the old Maremma.
Fattoria La Maliosa goes one further. It doesn’t just embrace the ‘contadini culture’ of the territory, it’s also strictly organic and completely wedded to environmental biodiversity.
It took me five years to realise, but the Maremmani don’t mess around with their landscape and they don’t mess around with farming. The latter is in their blood and the former elicits the same fierce affection as a beloved Italian mother.
La Maliosa sits pretty on 130 hectares just outside of Saturnia. It only produces two products, but they are the culinary embodiment of the Maremma. That is, olive oil and wine.
Their extra virgin olive oil is 100 per cent bio dynamic and organic, made from Tuscan olives grown in a grove that is as picturesque as it is lush.
Their red and white wines are made entirely by hand, partially from wild vines, without sulfur, not filtered, and fermented in their own yeasts in reconditioned wooden barrels.
I get very excited whenever I meet someone who is keeping the traditions of this incredible region alive. I get simply ecstatic when I meet someone who understands the need for organic, environmentally-sound local produce.
So you can only imagine how thrilled I was to sit down with La Maliosa’s owner and manager Antonella Manuli to chat about farming, tourism and La Bella Maremma.
Welcome Antonella, can you tell us a little bit about La Maliosa?
La Maliosa is a certified organic and bio dynamic farm. It’s been open since 2009 when my family and I restored an old vineyard and olive grove. We now produce two wines and two natural oils, the latter of which have been included in the Slow Food Guide for the best tasting Italian oils for the 2nd consecutive year now.
Why is organic farming so important?
Socially responsible farming in 2012 is not just about organic, but also bio-dynamic. We work “To Let Nature Do The Job”, so we can feed ourselves without putting poisons in our body and live in a healthier, sustainable environment well into the future.
Why the Maremma?
Because it lends itself perfectly to the completely “green” project I had in mind, of course!
I lived in Milan for many years and after several international experiences, I felt the pull of the Maremma. I wanted to be in a magical place with wild and unique landscapes, which more than make up for the isolation and lack of shopping centres. That’s my Maremma.
Your first experience in the Maremma, what was it like?
It was simply amazing. I was here for work and once you get past the initial shock of being catapulted back in time, you are completely taken over with wonder. That wonder is renewed every time I come back here. It’s the heart of Italy. Who would have thought that just over an hour from Rome, you’d find a place so completely preserved, genuine and pure?
How does La Maliosa embrace that quintessential Maremman farming tradition?
To find a link with tradition, we have to go back in time. La Maliosa respects the principles of agriculture practised until the early 20th century when everything was natural, seasonal and organic. The only difference is that we take advantage of modern machines, equipment, bio dynamic preparations and practices to make our products even healthier and more delicious!
What sort of tourist experience does Maliosa offer?
Well, besides healthy and excellent wine and olive oil, we also offer guided tours of our beautiful farm. These tours are accompanied by our winemaker Henry, who shares his passion about what it means to be a bio dynamic vineyard and olive grove – a rare sight in Italy. And the view from the farm is simply magnificent, if I do say so myself. We are surrounded by the bounty of gorgeous Saturnia and its countryside, after all.
From September, renovations on our Fattoria di Santa Francesca will be finished just in time for autumn wine tastings and gourmet “eco-chic” picnics. Of course, you can always buy our products directly from the farm or company store all year round.
What do you love about the Maremma?
In no particular order: the clear sky, the light, the silence, the dirt roads, Pitigliano at night, Sovana’s deserted square, the always busy Piazza di Saturnia, the “del prete” bread, the Terme di Saturnia hot springs, local ricotta and tomatoes.
Your perfect afternoon here?
A walk, followed by a dip at the Terme di Saturnia spa complex. I might head to the golf course with the family or to the stables. If it rains, I’ll relax with a massage or a facial mask at the spa. And if I happen to be alone, which is extremely rare, I’ll lay in the garden with a book, before heading out for ice cream and a drink in Piazza di Saturnia.
And finally, three things no tourist should miss?
The Terme di Saturnia, Pitigliano lit up at night and dinner at Da Caino restaurant in Montemerano.
Antonella was too modest to mention La Maliosa, but I will. It’s a seriously beautiful farm and an unforgettably authentic experience. You can buy the farm’s organic and bio-dynamic wines directly from the farm shop on Via del Ponticino in Manciano or from a number of boutique gourmet stores and restaurants in Tuscany.
For more info, visit www.fattorialamaliosa.it/en