The Spalleti Trivelli family is famed for its rich heritage. Not only was the present owner’s great great grandmother lady in waiting to the Queen of Italy and the niece of Napolean’s sister Carolina Bonaparte, but she was also the president of the Italian Women Council [Italy’s suffragetes]. Thanks to Gabriella Rasponi Spalleti, Villa Spalleti Trivelli has been a hub for philosophers, aristocrats and politicians.
Gabriella’s former home is now a boutique hotel that is still wowing visitors with its love of the finer things in life. Two of these riches are the villa’s award-winning wine and olive oil. “All this happened by chance”, says Andrea Spalletti Trivelli. “My parents purchased the land in 2006 with the aim of refurbishing the 17th-century farm house. The farm house had remained untouched for 35 years. During the renovation, my father, a wine lover, couldn’t help but check the state of the vineyard and see what could be done with it. The soil and the grapes had great potential so we planted an additional 2.5 hectares of vineyards, which we did by cloning existing vines. Three years later, we produced our first white (Arale) and red (Sariano) vintages.”
Alongside the vines were 250 olive trees, most of which were over 100 years old. Whilst the family has been in the wine industry in the Chianti region since the 18th century (they sold the Spalletti Winery in Chianti Rufina in the 1970s), this would be their first foray into the production of olive oil. “Understanding the incredible amount of work that goes into producing a bottle of olive oil has been the most eye-opening experience” explains Andrea. “No matter how much you prepare for a harvest, it all boils down to Mother Nature. You will have to adapt your work based on what nature sends your way (too much rain, cold weather) and attempt to save what can be saved in bad moments and making the most out of the good ones.”
However, while they started out with 250 olive trees, they now have close to 1,000 trees and Pomario Olive Oil has also been lauded as one of the top olive oils in Italy, winning the Silver Medal in the Fruity, Intense, Mature category at the international AVPA contest, organised in France with a jury up experts from the Centre Technique de l’Olivier, Michelin-starred chefs and gastronomy experts. “We are the first generation of Spalletti Trivelli’s to produce olive oil, so it has been an enriching experience, all the more so with the positive acclaim we have received”.
The composition of the land, that’s rich in clay and silt, combined with the constant sunshine and fresh water, is what has helped create the perfect environment for olive oil production.
While the plants are cultivated biologically using organic fertilizer, and the olives are handpicked, the Spalletti Trivelli’s also rely on the help of modern technology to ensure that they produce only the highest quality olive oil. The juice is extracted through a cold pressing machine that guarantees high-quality extra virgin olive oil.
Pomario Olive Oil is a rich emerald green colour and to the nose presents rich fruity notes. To the taste, it is well-balanced with strong fresh grass tones. Intensely bitter and spicy, but in a harmonic way, it leaves a spicy after-taste with a flavour of fresh olive. It is excellent as a dressing for legume soups, meat, grilled vegetables and salads. But to truly taste its flavours, nothing beats fresh, toasted bread.
Due to its artisanal production, Pomario Olive Oil can only be purchased on the premises or at Villa Spalletti Trivelli in Rome. London-based store Passione Vino carries the award-winning olive oil as well as the family’s wine. Aficionados making their way to the farm can get also involved in the farming aspect, depending on which part of the year they visit. It’s also down to “how willing they are to get dirty”, jokes Andrea.
The Spalletti Trivelli’s wine and olive oil business is flourishing and they are now looking to create a more immersive experience. “We are thinking of giving our guests a chance to fully experience the farm and the winery by staying overnight. We are working on a few apartments that will boast all the modern comforts and at the same time immerse guests completely in the Umbrian countryside.”
Though the region remains relatively unknown to most travellers, Perugia’s bid for ‘European Capital of Culture 2019’ should help put the destination on the map of unadulterated foodies. The region is indeed famous for the Sagrantino wine, a very strong and tasty wine produced in the area of Montefalco. White truffles are also world-renowned and probably only second to the ones that come from Alba.
“It is a great opportunity”, exclaims Andrea. “It will put the entire area under the spotlight and this is exactly what one of the most beautiful parts of Italy needs and deserves. It will allow people from all over Europe and the world to find out more about the traditions, the history and culture of this beautiful city and region. It will also drive more business towards us as more people will be exploring the surroundings with the aim of sampling the local produce.”