My first trip to Italy’s breathtaking Umbria region was enchanting for countless reasons, but the greatest reason of all was the magical pleasure of staying at Il Fontanaro Farm & Cooking School. In three short days, I learned fundamentals of rustic countryside cooking, toured Umbria’s most magical towns and fell in love with the charming family who built these villas and enchanting organic farm on the foundation of passion.
I visited during my favorite time of year in Italy: autunno. Every morning was marked by waking up to rolling emerald olive groves (owned by the family), drinking my cappuccino and watching the sweet sun rise as the crisp countryside breeze rustled my hair. Afternoons were spent in drinking wine and learning the secrets to Umbrian cuisine from my cooking extraordinaire host Alina, or hopping in her Mini Cooper and exploring neighboring villages – psst: Ed Sheeran happens to live in the neighborhood.
Experiences like Il Fontanaro are truly what fulfills my heart as The Modern Jetsetter. Supporting small, passion-driven, family-owned businesses in both Italy and USA feeds my heart as a storyteller. Every stitch of the Fontanaro experience is bursting with passion, and each day is woven with nothing but the extraordinary.
Here are the five (of one million) reasons a stay at Il Fontanaro Farm is more than a travel experience, it’s an vibrant feast of slow country Italian living.
Extraordinary mother-daughter dream team Alina and Lucia have together created one of Umbria’s most magnificent destinations. Spending time with these two women at their dinner table brought back nostalgic memories of long dinner conversations in my Nonna’s own kitchen.
I’ll never forget the first night I arrived…Lucia told me the alleged story of how Risotto alla Milanese (Saffron Risotto) came to be. Saffron was used during the Italian Renaissance as a pigment to create paint, and without going into the wonderful story in detail…a little risotto dinner accident occurred while a band of painters worked on the duomo.
These two strong Italian women will make you feel at home from the moment you walk into your life and help you curate the ultimate Umbria experience from start to end. Leaving them came with a heavy heart.
True rustic Italian cooking has two main ingredients: simplicity & locally sourced ingredients. Alina is a powerhouse of knowledge when it comes to cooking rich and wholesome Italian cuisine. The tricks she has up her sleeve? Endless. Alina’s cooking classes start with a generous amount of the farm’s own wine and by the end, I walked away with heavenly Italian recipes I’ll be enjoying for the rest of my life.
Spoiler alert: she taught me the best pasta is made without a machine, how to spot true Italian olive oil and the secret behind Roman Tiramisu.
There is no olive oil like Umbrian olive oil. Il Fontanaro is home to a private vineyard and if you visit at the right time, you’ll have the opportunity to witness a traditional olive harvest. Guests often fall so in love with this glorious extra virgin olive oil (it has won multiple international awards) that they regularly buy it online and ship to their homes worldwide. Add me to that list. The farm recently launched another opportunity for their olive oil fans…you can buy one of their trees.
Olive oil is more than a product at Il Fontanaro. It’s cultural poetry and a deep source of culinary pride. Alina abides by ancient Roman mantras when harvesting her olive oil, the first rule: olive oil is to be golden.
Guests will have no shortage of adventures, activities or relaxation. Il Fontanaro is centrally located in the most picturesque hills of Umbria. Whether you want to hop over to southern Tuscany and explore the winding streets of Montepulciano or Cortona, visit local wineries, shop in luxury outlets or discover another perspective on horseback…Il Fontanaro will help make your Umbrian escape a dream holiday.
For guests who want to truly relax and do nothing but eat, drink wine, swim and unwind (la dolce vita) inside a real-life landscape painting of Italy…Il Fontanaro is your ultimate countryside oasis.
The villas at Il Fontanaro are ultimate Italian comfort by all standards. Alina literally had the latest issue of The New Yorker waiting for me and her team never once let my fire die – so my nights were spent in warm divine comfort eating Roman Tiramisu while watching Audrey Hepburn rebel against authority in Roman Holiday. My mornings were spent watching the sun rise over the hills, with nothing but a light heart and cappuccino in hand.
If a New York girl never wanted to leave, then you’ll never want to leave.