|Andrea and Marina Olivi||Loc. Bardellone – Cà Vagine, Levanto (SP), Italy|
|Agriturismo degli Olivi||http://www.agriturismodegliolivi.com|
Various vegetables, depending on the season and on what they feel like planting. Meats, again depending on what is around; this time: bull and lambs. Cow and goat milk, cheese and yoghurt.
A bit of history this time: we met Andrea and his wife Marina when I was a kid and my parents used to bring me to Levanto during weekends. They sold furniture, which we happily bought.
I went to see them now, around a decade after, and they were not intent on selling furniture anymore. Not even close. But they did have goats, and cows, a bull and horses plus vegetables, homemade bread and cakes and freshly milked milk.
All of this, in a big house near the top of the hill that rises behind Levanto, named Bardellone. If you don’t know where it is, you’re not the only one: I believe it classifies for slightly in the middle of nowhere. If you ever were a guest at La Sosta, one trip there and you would never again consider our location hard to find:)
Being young (and foolish?), on the way there I wondered why anybody would choose to live in such a place. I then parked my car and took a good look around…and had a clue. Another view of Liguria: hills and valleys and fields stretching inland and a calmness that was hard to imagine one could find so close to the hustle of the Cinque Terre.
Deciding to live there had been a jump in the dark for the couple: neither had any previous knowledge of how to run a farm, plus they also had three kids who had to be brought to school every day. Marina had almost stopped driving, but here it was impossible to go anywhere without a car.
It was definitely difficult at times, but now their hard work is starting to pay off. Luckily, the few ‘neighbors’ they have in Bardellone helped them a lot. As they also run an agriturismo, they consume most of the products that they produce, though we might be able to get some bull meat (if he’s young enough) and maybe a couple of lambs. If we do, I’ll let you know how they are – I apologize for vegetarians / vegans, but if it helps these animals were wonderfully raised, being able to go were they pleased and have only eaten grass. Though they are not certified organic (again, you have to pay…) all of their products are grown without the help of pesticides or chemicals.
Marina, who is also from Milan, laughs at my wonder for their choice of lifestyle, but both seem really happy with what they now have (as I hope you can see from the picture). If you ever come to the area, maybe take the time to drive up here. It’s a whole other beauty.