Activities for visiting members
This list offers guests a brief overview of the tours and classes we offer at Spannocchia. For more information, prices and availability, please contact our guest services coordinator, Lucia Sonetti; firstname.lastname@example.org
Your host will guide you through the Castello and its grounds. You will learn about the architecture of the Castello, the histories of the Cinelli and Spannocchi families, the mezzadria sharecropping system (by which Spannocchia operated for centuries) and past and present agricultural activities on the property. You’ll visit the chapel, the library, the cantina, the secret garden and lastly (weather permitting), you’ll climb Spannocchia’s medieval tower for a breath-taking view of the 1100 acres of rolling hills and farmland surrounding the Castello. All of the sites and information presented throughout the tour will help Spannocchia guests to better understand the history of the area and our passion for sustainable living.
Traditional Tuscan Cooking Class
The cooking class begins at 9 am with a tour through the vegetable garden at Spannocchia. Carmen, our Ortolana, will describe the cycle of the various crops through the year and her methods for providing the kitchen with fresh, flavorful products. Then to the kitchen, where along with Loredana we will prepare a three course Tuscan meal utilizing food products from the estate. The first course might be handmade pasta such as tagliatelle, ravioli, gnocchi or pici, or perhaps the typical “ribollita” Tuscan soup, or in summer a simple but delicious bread salad called “panzanella”. For our second course we may choose between our own farm-raised pork, beef, or lamb or perhaps even wild game, and this will be accompanied by fresh vegetables direct from the garden. We finish with a traditional dessert such as cantucci cookies with Spannocchia vin santo, pinenut cake, tiramisu, or our renowned chocolate salame.
A vegetarian menu is also available, and we will try to fill requests for specific recipes as long as they fall within the traditions of this local region. Each lesson concludes with lunch, tasting all the dishes created during the morning class, accompanied by Spannocchia wine and spring water.
Loredana Betti grew up on Spannocchia in the 1950’s when her family were tenant farmers here. As a young girl she learned how to prepare the traditional fare of the region and eventually developed a talent notable even in this area where every housewife seems capable of culinary magic. For nearly twenty years, Loredana cooked for the Cinelli family and Spannocchia’s students and guests, until her retirement few years ago to spend more time with her three grandchildren. She still loves to produce wonderful meals for friends and family, and enjoys staying involved at Spannocchia with her weekly classes in the kitchen she knows so well.
Bambini in Cucina **NEW**
At Spannocchia we understand the importance of experiential learning, especially for the littlest of hands. We have designed a cooking class for 6 to 10 year olds that encourages them to form deeper relationships with their food, the place it comes from, and the person who has produced it. Katie will begin with a trip to the vegetable garden. Here, the children will pick an ingredient of their choice to be incorporated into their lunch. We’ll also meet Carmen, our gardener, and learn about worms and compost and all the cool stuff that happens within the walls of our Orto. Next to the kitchen for prep! Our recipes will get kids stuck in; fresh pasta, meat balls in sauce, real pizza, focaccia, salame dolce, panzanella, mini burgers, fruit salads, meringues, gelato… lots of hands-on work guaranteed! Together we will create a 2-course lunch (with snacks) in a fun and educational atmosphere. Lunch will be served in the dining room at 12.30. Not only is this a fun way for kids to spend a morning at Spannocchia, it allows parents time to relax or perhaps check out a local winery. Ottimo!
Olives and Olive Oil
Have you ever wanted to know the whole story about olive oil and why it is such a prized product? Did you know olive oil is like wine, with different blends, and that there is a correct way of tasting it (and it isn’t on bread!)? Katie Phelan, Spannocchia’s Education Director, talks about the history of olives and olive oil, and explains how olive oil is produced. We’ll take a walk in the olive orchard and learn a little bit about olive trees from a botanical perspective. The class concludes with a guided tasting of several Tuscan oils — including our own award winning Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
Cinta Senese Tour & Tasting
Do you know what a Cinta Senese is? Do you know how prosciutto is made? Spannocchia’s Education Director Katie offers a close-up look at our Noah’s Ark rare breed animals, our organic artisan meat production and the typical salumi (salt-cured meats) that we create. The tour includes a walk to see the pigs in their habitat, a glimpse into our seasoning/curing room, and finishes with a guided tasting of our salumi products such as salame, prosciutto, capocollo and lardo. This tour is highly informative, a lot of fun, and very, very tasty!
Spannocchia’s Wine Production; a tour with Katie
Take a guided tour in our vineyards where, just maybe, we’ll hear Angelo’s dulcet voice from deep within the rows. Learn all about Spannocchia’s viti and viniculture, visit the cantina and finish with a tasting of Spannocchia’s vino rosso and bianco along with Tuscan bread and some of Spannocchia’s salumi - the perfect taste triad. Katie is happy to answer any questions you have about wine, in any context. And her ultimate nugget of advice? Keep drinking!
Wine Demystification Class with Katie Phelan
This is a wine tour with a difference - at Spannocchia we tell it like it is! Oenology is a tricky business but appreciating good wine doesn’t have to be. What exactly is wine? What does terroir mean? What is a super Tuscan? From demijohns to D.O.C. labelling, together we will demystify the wine culture of Italy, with a little help from the very visually (and certainly nasally) stimulating aroma board. If you like, we can head into the vines for part of the discussions too. We will conclude with a tasting from at least five of Italy’s wine regions.
Pasta in Italy; a class with Katie
Passionate about pasta? You will be! Pasta is synonymous with Italy - but why? If you would like to know the historical, cultural and geographical reasons behind certain methods of pasta production and consumption in Italy, this class will provide you with the perfect introduction. Through discussion (and just a little experimentation!), you will come to a better understanding of how pasta is made and how important it is within the Italian diet.
Italian Language Lessons
Learn the basics of the Italian language during your stay at Spannocchia! Instructor Valeria is available for private or group lessons. Lessons usually focus on basic grammar and vocabulary, and Valeria always encourages conversation in class! Learn how to order at restaurants, ask about bus schedules, and find out where the nearest bathroom might be. Valeria’s teaching style is flexible and she can accommodate all levels of proficiency and can tailor the class to your particular interest (art, cooking, history, farming, etc). Each class lasts one hour and Valeria will provide lesson materials.
For Local Schools and Neighboring Residents
- The education staff at Spannocchia has developed 3 integrated itineraries for half and full day farm visits for local schoolchildren ages 3 - 18. The itineraries focus on animal care and husbandry, wild edibles, and sustainable use of natural resources. As one of the leading “fattoria didattica” (educational farm) destinations in the region of Siena, Spannocchia is leading the way in re-introducing local children to the importance of knowing where our food comes from and encourages their excitement about discovering the natural world.
- At Spannocchia, there are many opportunities to invite the outside world into our community. Every May Day, we host a celebration of spring with local folk musicians and singers, a sampling of new wine and new salami, and spring treats fresh from the garden. We have a close relationship with the local Slowfood convivium in Siena, and members have visited Spannocchia several times in the last year to learn about our Cinta Senese cured meat production, to attend a dramatized reading of Delfino Cinelli’s semi-autobiographical book, “Castiglione che Dio Sol Sa” followed by a summer dinner and local cheese tasting in the courtyard, and to attend a traditional American Thanksgiving dinner. Our hiking trails and farm roads are open to the public, although hunting and foraging are not allowed because we are part of a nature reserve. We also host art classes for local residents and our wood-fired ceramic kiln is available for public use.