Yesterday, we left the big city and took the kids to the farm! An olive oil farm, to be specific! Fattoria de Maiano is just a 20 minute drive outside of Florence but feels like a completely different world. From beautiful open lands to wild animals and plants, the property is nothing like the city. We began our day with a hike around the property. Our guide, Tomasso, the son of the owner, explained the fascinating history of the land. The Pazzi family built the original building on the property just outside of Florence in the 15th century. The family had been banished from the city after attempting murder on the Medici family in church. They also built a large tower to show the Medici just how powerful they were, regardless of their expulsion.
Later, the land was taken over by an Englishman, John Temple, who also funded the facade of Florence’s duomo. There have been many famous visitors to the property over the years. Queen Victoria was a guest here and has been famously been pictured painting the lake that lies below. Also, Leonardo di Vinci famously tested his flying machine here (it should be noted that it failed and he was not the one doing the testing- no wonder they called him a genius!). Lastly, A Room with a View was filmed on the property as well (you will see just how beautiful it is in the pictures!).
We hiked all over the property talking about the plants, animals and history that accompanies it. While it was a very hot day, it was a nice shady path for us to explore and we loved hearing about the rich history of the land.
After our hike, we got to pet some of the animals on the farm. There was quite the selection from donkeys, cows, ducks, and even an ostrich!
After our petting zoo experience, we classed things up for an olive oil tasting! Tomasso explained that you first should smell the oil. It should smell fresh like herbs or grass. If it doesn’t smell fresh, it means that something was wrong with the olives, plants or the pressing process. Then, you take a sip and move it all around your mouth while sort of clicking your tongue to bring out the flavors. You should taste the earthiness of the oil and later you should feel a bit of residual spiciness. Students loved the experience and many purchased olive oil to take home!
It was a fantastic day on the farm, after which we headed to San Gimignano for lunch. Stay tuned for more about our trip there later! Ciao!