Pienza, Tuscany, Italy
An Organic Farm.
Podere il Casale is a dream come true for Sandra and Ulisse. Originally from Zurich, Switzerland, the couple with their young family moved in 1991 to a farm on top of a hill overlooking the Val d’Orcia situated between Pienza and Montepulciano. It has been a labor of love ever since.
DISCOVER THE PLACE
Upon arrival, you are warmly greeted as if you are part of the family and invited to take in the panoramic view of the countryside from the terrace that spills out from a collection of stone buildings. Coffee in hand, the adventure has already begun as you breathe in the spectacular vista of this enchanted Tuscan landscape.
The original stone farm house needed lots of repair when Sandra and Ulisse first arrived but through their love and determination, season after season, Podere iI Casale has evolved into what it is today. With its emphasis on organic, sustainable farming; olive trees, grape vines and wheat were planted. Vegetable growing, beekeeping along with sheep and goat rearing were added to the mix resulting in a successful organic cheese-making business.
Anxious to share their love of the land, Sandra and Ulisse opened their doors to the public with guided tours of the farm and cheese-making process. Cooking classes are held in the family’s stone house proudly using the farm’s local ingredients and passionately taught by Sandra. Visitors can enjoy a farm-to-table lunch or dinner at the restaurant which feature fresh, organic, seasonal ingredients picked by hand straight from their garden paired with their organic wines.
Tuscany is renown for its Pecorino cheese made from sheep’s milk. Pecorino cheese comes in different varieties depending on the aging process. Stagionato has been aged at least 4 months which gives it a firm but crumbly texture and is noted for its buttery and nutty flavor. Semi-stagionato and Fresco are soft and creamier with a mild milky taste. We delighted our palate while sampling the different types along with the farm’s fresh goat cheese.
One of the highlights of the tour was meeting the friendly sheep and goats who appeared like part of the family. Podere iI Casale operates a small dairy which makes organic raw milk sheep and goat cheeses. The milk comes from their herd of 150 sheep and 50 goats that all have been born and raised on the farm free from hormones. Sandra and Ulisse take pride that, when necessary, their animals are looked after using homeopathic remedies. No chemical preservatives or additives are added during the cheese-making process. The artisanal nature of the cheeses made at Podere iI Casale is truly evident!