For those who won’t go to Italy this summer, no worries: Italy can also come your way. With the organic delicacies of La Vialla on your plate or in your glass, the Tuscan sun will start to shine in your own backyard or on your balcony.
We live in beautiful surroundings, with sociable towns and Amsterdam within our reach. However, at times you are in need of a little change. Longing for rolling hills, balmy summer evenings, and strolls through a vineyard followed by a lunch in the shade of a fig tree. Sitting at a long table covered by a chequered tablecloth piled up with delightful bites and delicious wines. That’s when you go to Italy, or Tuscany to be precise. This is how we ended up in La Vialla and it was love at first sight.
Fattoria La Vialla is a family farm owned by the Lo Franco family. A sustainable and biodynamic farm and winery. It is about an hour’s drive from Florence, in the enchanting Chianti-area. Tuscan specialties like wine, pecorino cheese, antipasti, sauces, pasta, honey, vinegar, cookies and other sweets are produced at La Vialla. There are over a hundred products, all of them are certified organic, in some cases vegetarian and vegan and, above all, molto delizioso, absolutely delicious!
“The origin of La Vialla is just as organic,” explains Ingrid Stoffer, a Dutch lady who moved to Italy for love in 2004. Among other things, she deals with PR at La Vialla. “In the early 70’s a lot of Tuscan farmers moved to the city, leaving behind their homes. During that time Piero and Giuliana Lo Franco came across a beautiful, but dilapidated house near Arezzo, fell in love and bought it.”
“Bit by bit it started to expand, a terrain with olive trees, a few dilapidated farms, some old vineyards, a flock of sheep without a shepherd and villa La Vialla. A vialla is a simple plough, which is part of our logo. They grew their own fruits and vegetables, because they wanted their children to eat healthy. Everything environmentally friendly and chemically untreated. Nowadays organic food is fairly common, but back then quite unheard of in Italy. It all just happened. Piero and Guiliana were way ahead of their time!”
Straight from the farm
Later Piero and Giuliana started to restore the olive groves and vineyards to their former glory and renovated the old farms, which are now being rented out to clients, mainly to the Germans, Dutch and English. The tourists visiting Tuscany were interested in their organic wares from the start and that is how the sales began, straight from the farm. In the early 90s the first little car, stuffed to the brim with Christmas gifts, drove to friends in Germany and in 1996 ‘the Viallini’ converted to a biodynamic farm following the principals of Rudolf Steiner.
Ingrid: “Now, 40 years on, 1.400 hectares are being cultivated and we work with, approximately, 160 people. La Vialla farmstead, with a central square, the shop and the wooden-buring oven, is still the heart of the fattoria. During the summer there are many places to visit: the wine cellar, a barriques cellar with wine barrels made of oak, the olive oil mill, the grain mill, the bakery, the sauce kitchen, the cheesery, the dairy and the farm museum.”
“You can join in for a Tuscan lunch. There is a lot of laughter, good conversations and, of course, everything is about delicious food and wines! However, there is also a lot of hard work and pride involved. From working in the fields and preparing the products, to creating up labels and the contact with our customers, we do it all ourselves. Our products are not available in the shops, everything goes directly to the consumer.”
Not only has La Vialla been awarded several significant environmental awards, also the wine, an important product of the fattoria, wins countless medals. Ingrid: “There are strict requirements when it comes to organic wine, one of which is a limitation on adding sulphite. The majority of our wines contain even less sulphite than is legally allowed. If you are talking about pride, you are talking about our wines. Everything comes together: tradition, patience, valuable raw materials, expertise, and lots and lots of love!”
“Of course, I also use the La Vialla products at home! When friends come over I love to fill the table with a variety of antipasti. That way everyone can enjoy the cipollina, red pesto, olives, artichokes, peperonata’s, and pecorino cheese with jams or honey. We usually pair it with a nice Chianti, or a fresh metodo classico spumante, and sometimes we conclude the meal with a traditional vin santo and cantucci cookies. Our two bambini of 1,5 and 3 drink grape juice diluted with water. All of our products suitable for kids are labelled with a child’s symbol. Whether something is vegetarian or vegan is indicated on each product and, recently, we added a gluten-free assortment.”
“As we grow, produce, pack and send everything ourselves, there is no need for middlemen. That way it is all done by us. We can guarantee high quality and low costs. Orders for € 100 and up are shipped free of charge, any orders under this amount we charge €8,60. You can make a selection of products you like or choose one of our magnificent gift packages to send to family and friends.”
It is always a treat to receive a La Vialla shipment at home. If only just because of the colourful booklet that comes with it. This booklet is full of pictures of la dolce vita, the sweet Italian life at La Vialla. The pictures are almost too good to be true. However, it ís true, we were there, remember! We were sitting under the fig tree, at a long table covered by a chequered tablecloth, filled with delightful bites and bottles of wine, and surrounded by wonderful people. La Vialla, ti amo, noi torneremo, we will be back!
Fattoria La Vialla
Via di Meliciano 26
52029 Castiglion Fibocchi, Tuscany, Italy
Website and web shop www.lavialla.it
We charge € 8,60 shipping costs, unless the order is over € 100
Open for visits from April till October, from Monday till Friday
Tuscan lunch from Tuesday till Friday, on reservation.