La Casa dell’Olio, the experiential tourism of Joinbed
When we talk about tourism, a whole world opens up; everyone has their own way of understanding a journey, whether it is for pleasure or for work. Until some time ago, when I thought of booking a trip, it was more or less obvious just to choose the place and then the hotel.
Nowadays, I have radically changed my approach, because now, when I travel, I love getting “under the skin” of the places where I go, so that I can live their traditions to the full.
For this reason, I immediately embraced the Joinbed project, thanks to an affinity of ideas. Joinbed is an experiential tourism portal that gives you a chance to travel and live genuine experiences. The leitmotiv is change is a journey: the experiences we live always leave a trace and are often a reason for change.
La Casa dell’Olio
A few weeks ago, thanks to Joinbed, I had a unique experience, based on one of the products that I love most in our cuisine: extra-virgin olive oil, produced by La Casa dell’Olio. My destination was Castelnuovo di Farfa in the province of Rieti, in the territory of the ancient Sabines.
How to get there: from Rome you can get to Fara Sabina by train and from there to Castelnuovo, in the centre of the town.
The area that we find ourselves in is rich in medieval villages, abbeys and convents. Driving along these hilly roads, it is impossible not to see the abundance of ancient olive trees which are a huge resource for the population.
La Casa dell’Olio is on one of these hills and it is there that Lida and her husband Luciano gave me a warm welcome. They are my “local heroes” and it is they who will act as my guide. They are a beautiful and close-knit couple, so I felt at home immediately. Both have always lived in the countryside, so they love nature and its rhythms. Lida manages the house and looks after her land and vegetable garden. We are surrounded by olive trees and the entire year seems to be punctuated by the time it takes for them to ripen.
The buds appear in the spring and the shoots grow until late autumn when the right moment is chosen for harvesting the olives, depending on the weather. Franco and Lida explained to me that the degree of ripeness is one of the fundamental characteristics that then determine the quality and the organoleptic properties of the oil.
As soon as the harvest was over, Lida and I headed to the mill. The olives are brought here as soon as they are picked so that they can be pressed immediately. The olives are separated from any leaves and cleaned before being pressed. The scent there was really intoxicating and I couldn’t wait to taste the new oil. Lida satisfied my yearning and it was definitely amazing.
Together we prepared fresh pasta, tagliatelle and fregnacce. The sauces are typical of this area: tagliatelle alla sabinese with tomatoes and olives; fregnacce with a sauce called persa, a very simple pesto made with oil and marjoram, which is absolutely delicious!
Dinner with Lida and Luciano was extremely pleasant and they were very enthusiastic about presenting the products of their land to me: cold cuts, cheeses, jams and their fantastic oil on slices of crunchy bread, all absolutely irresistible!
La Casa dell’Olio is a great place for Franco and Lida’s friends to meet, perhaps because of the ample portico, or the oven in which Lida prepares pizza and focaccia, or her wonderful mixed grills. In short, there never any lack of company. So Sunday was experienced in the most traditional style: a long table, polenta with a sausage sauce and a huge barbecue… not forgetting the excellent wine!
A tour of the town
Castelnuovo di Farfa preserves all the features and characteristics of an ancient mediaeval village: narrow streets and small squares, gates and corners full of charm. Visiting it on foot is a must. Wandering around, it is easy to see the town’s symbol: the Golden Kernel, the stone at the heart of the olive, which is so important for the inhabitants of this town.
Lida advises me to visit Castelnuovo’s Oil Museum. This turned out to be a totally different experience to what I was expecting. A genuine museum of modern art inspired by ancient traditions. We were in a building dating back to the 1500s and, immediately, it was clear how much the history of this area and its traditions was linked to art with oil as the leitmotiv.
Many of the museum’s installations are by the Sardinian artist Maria Lai.
A few kilometres away stands the Benedictine Abbey of Farfa, one of Lazio’s most important religious sites. Here too, strolling through the narrow streets of the village and sitting down to drink a coffee turned into an experience not to be missed.
Anyone curious about the rhythms of nature and of a people with centuries-old traditions will inevitably go home satisfied.