I’ve just wrapped up my first full week and second weekend at Spannocchia, and I already feel overwhelmed by everything that I want to share with you all, my few but committed readers. But first, the basics for those of you who don’t know anything about where I am right now: Spannocchia (Spa-no-key-ah) is an organic farm and BNB/villa stay near Siena, Italy, about an hour south of Florence.
The farm runs an internship program for each season, with seven farm interns and one guest services intern, who help with the operations of the farm and villa. The oldest part of Spannocchia is the tower, dating from the 1200s. The rest of the buildings were tacked on throughout the centuries. We got a historical tour of the property from Randall, one of the (American) owners (the other is Francesca), and it’s totally fascinating, which I hope to recap in a later post.
My sister did this same internship program for the spring season back in 2008, when I was studying abroad in Northern Ireland, and I took a day in my spring break vacation to take a day trip from Florence to visit her. I don’t remember much about that visit—it’s really just a bunch of disjointed images of the farm—but I do remember eating the most amazing salami of my life here. In one of those crystal clear taste memories, I can still see myself unwrapping the packaging and placing a thin slice of salami on my tongue, and having it completely dissolve in melty meaty deliciousness, putting to shame all other salami I had ever eaten. Just one slice was enough to divide my life into Before Spannochia Salami and After Spannocchia Salami (joining other important life divisions, like Before Cheesecake and After Cheesecake.) I’ll be writing more about Spannocchia salami in a later post.
Anyway, I’ve always had this internship in the back of my mind as something I’d like to do one day, and it so happened that this is the year that it made sense to apply. I remember so little about my one visit here, so when I first arrived a week and a half ago, it felt like revisiting a dream, everything was steeped in familiarity, but I still didn’t understand how it all came together. On our drive up the long, windy, bumpy dirt driveway, we rounded the final corner to enter the estate and then a hazy image of the same spot billowed up from my memory and locked into place, its corners stretching to fit reality, as it was all just slightly different than I remembered.
I’m so happy to be here, we only arrived on September 4th and already it feels like home. Not only do I adore my seven fellow interns, but there are two dozen cats that roam the property, many of whom are down for cuddling whenever and wherever (others are borderline feral, but it’s quite easy to tell them apart).
I am working in the animali part of the farm, which means I help take care of the pigs and cows. I’ll write much more about this in a later post, as well.
There are fig trees all over the property, and we’re encouraged to pick and eat as many of them as we want (my daily fig count is higher than it’s ever been.) There are also blackberries everywhere, and I’ve been eating a copious amount (with the scratches along my arms to prove it.) On my first day of work, I got to use a sledgehammer—something I’ve never used in previous jobs (no matter how badly I wanted to some days.) I also now know what 5,000 volts of electricity feels like! I’m also being forced to reckon with my arachnophobia, as those dreadful eight-legged things are all over the place.
There are so many other things! Hopefully they will all make their way to these pages in good time.