Allow me to transport you to another region of Italy despite the title of this blog: Liguria! Home to large nature reserves, pesto sauce and the Genoa aquarium, Liguria is absolutely enchanting in May.
This past weekend I took a trip to a farm and B&B that I first discovered while I “WWOOFed” last November (much can be said about the World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF) experience but for the purpose of this post I want to invite you to check out the website instead here). Artemisia B&B is situated in Montoggio, Genoa’s largest municipality (i.e. suburb), which boasts just over 2,000 residents, un sacco di abandoned farm houses and villas, and even a ruined castle from the 16th century. Artemisia is in a valley, perched across from a gorgeous mountain range and lush vegetation. The farm itself is new and every year the owners experiment with biological methods of growing their crops and raising their animals (currently one donkey, three sheep, and six hens, to be exact). This past weekend, for example, I helped weed the gardens, nurse some chicks and prepare some finger-licking good meals. I also encouraged naming one of the baby chicks Irina (which conveniently rhymes with gallina, the Italian word for hen), but I’m not sure this was the type of help they were looking for.
Besides taking care of the farm, the primary work at Artemisia is the production of confectures. Using the herbs and fruit that they harvest, Emanuela and Daniela Annetta (the two sisters behind the business) make liquors, vinegars, jams, syrups and pretty much anything else that you can imagine being bottled. It is all, as I can attest, made lovingly right there in the house and is absolutely delicious. Since the family aims to come as close as possible to a carbon footprint of 0, you won’t be able to find their products outside of Genoa or Florence (the family travels to both cities regularly). Guests at the B&B, however, are always treated to breakfasts served with these goodies.
While there you can rent a car, hop a bus to explore Genoa, or, if feeling more adventurous,find your way around the neighboring municipalities. Hiking in the mountains is also a popular activity – the region is well-known to serious trekkers who sometimes show up at Artemisia’s door having walked all the way from France!
I’m hesitant to share this hideaway that I like to think of as my own (you won’t find this place in any copy of Lonely Planet…yet), but in the effort to support local farming and small businesses — andate all you young and in Rome!
Where: Artemisia B&B, loc. Carpi Superiore 5-6, 16026, Montoggio (Genova)
How Much: Prices vary by season but 25-30 Euro per person (or if you like to work for your keep, check out the WWOOFing option)