As you can hear in the interview below (in Italiano) with Leonardo Nesi, it has been a long process but finally some very decent results are starting to appear for his project – Al Palazzo.
It is not simply just an agriturismo – a place where visitors can come and stay and enjoy the peace and quiet of Sommocolonia but it is instead a complete 360° concept involving local culture, an agriturismo, vegetable gardens, raising Cinta Senese pigs, concerts, art events and putting life back into what was a gradually dwindling community.
Starting in the 1950s and continuing through the 1970s, small scale farming in Italy became less profitable and farmers abandoned many farms to search for work in larger towns.
However, Italians place great value and worth in their agricultural traditions, especially in the small-scale production of local foods.
In 1985, Italian lawmakers created a legal definition for Agriturismo, which allowed for the rehabilitation and restoration of many abandoned rural buildings and estates.
Some were turned into vacation homes, and others were converted into agriturismo accommodations, similar to English or American bed and breakfasts. These agriturismi allowed small farmers to augment any income from the farm vacationers to have the unique first-hand experience of the rural way of life in Italy.
Leonardo Nesi has taken this one step further and renovated and restored what was to all intents and purposes a complete ruin, overgrown and hidden from view and returned it back to its former glory and is now an agriturismo open to the public.
Large well lit and airy rooms with a subtle mixture of the old and new – beautiful stonework alongside disabled access and free Wi-Fi.
He has fenced off large areas of the forest surrounding the village and is breeding Cinta Senese pigs for locally prepared salami, fresh sausages, prosciutto and lardo.
A huge vegetable garden just below Al Palazzo supplies fresh vegetables and extensive work on the mountainside with the chestnut trees means that one of the staple foods of the area, chestnut flour is always available.
The Cinta Senese (the breed owes its name to its black coat with a white sash (called a cinta in italian) that runs across its shoulders, sides and front legs) is a breed of domestic pig and is one of the six autochthonous pig breeds recognised by the Ministero delle Politiche Agricole Alimentari e Forestali, the Italian ministry of agriculture and forestry. The breed very nearly died out during the Second World War but it is now once again making a comeback as its meat is highly regarded as a product of high quality tightly tied to tradition and is now listed among those culinary excellencies that render tuscany and italy so famous around the world.
Leonardo also discovered to his surprise that when delving into the history of the house, that at one time, there was even a small theatre area on the side of building which was used for theatrical events.
He is intending to bring back this concept and organise small events during the summer months and use three of the large ground floor rooms for art exhibitions.
The local swing band, The Aristodemo’s have already been booked for the first event later on this summer.