Radicondoli is a medieval Tuscan hill town with a population of 680 residents forty-five minutes west of Siena, an hour south of Florence and three-and-a-half hours north of Rome. Some nearby villages and towns are San Gimignano, Volterra, Massa Marittima, Monteriggioni, Belforte, Casole d’Elsa, and Colle Val d’Elsa. The beautiful, roofless Cistercian abbey of San Galgano is thirty minutes to our south.
Built in the 12th century on the ruins of an 8th century fortress, Radicondoli is a small intact gem of a village unknown to most tourists and surrounded by farms and woodlands. In the immediate area are abandoned castles and fortresses as well as the storied, stately Villa Anqua that has belonged to a family of counts since the middle ages. The area is full of legends old and new, and the most commonly used word visitors use to describe it is “magical”.
Our unbroken tradition of cooking from the land provides a legacy of sustainability and an inspiration to cooks and gardeners worldwide. The fields (campi) surrounding the village supply us with much of our produce, meat, cheese, olive oil and wine–all natural, often organic and always bursting with flavor. This tradition is called zero-kilometer food, a tenet of the Terra Madre movement within Slow Food, to which Il Campo/Cucina belongs. In addition to the normal array of modern cooking equipment, the kitchens that host our classes use a variety ancient processes, such as wood-fired ovens and cooking over an open hearth. The cooks use their grandmothers’ old pasta rolling pins and other kitchen treasures handed down through generations, and the farmers use a variety of antique tools and methods taught to them by their fathers and grandfathers.
In addition to being well versed in the wisdom of the earth, Radicondoli is culturally in touch with both the old and new, from medieval celebrations and processions honoring saints and harvests to an annual summer theater and music festival founded by the late modern composer Luciano Berio, who lived in Radicondoli. Some of the special celebrations are: Primo Maggio (May 1); Festa di San Giovanni (third weekend in June); Festa della Madonna (last weekend of September); and Festa di San Simone e Giuda (Chestnut festival in late October).
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