Art, Travel & Life in Italy & Europe

Fruit and veg, straight from the farm!

The story of how I came to buy Giuseppe Mazzini’s peaches is one of good timing combined with local friendliness. One of the things we hoped for when we bought a house in Maremma was to be able to buy really good, fresh local produce. We don’t have any land of our own to grow things, and cannot depend on gifts from the neighbours, so we needed to find a good source of farm-direct fruits and vegetables. It took us a year but we have done so. So now I will tell you all my hard earned secrets about where to buy produce if you happen to be in the upper Maremma area of the metalliferous hills between Grosseto and Roccastrada.

The more famous Giuseppe Mazzini

If you’ve been reading about the 150 year celebrations here in Italy you will know that Giuseppe Mazzini was an important revolutionary. Well, he is also a farmer with property at one end of the Lattaia, a country road not far from Sticciano, and one of seven brothers who are all farmers (though this I found out later). I have been admiring his peach trees as they change with the seasons, and especially as they recently bore plenty of fruit that looked quite ready to eat. At the same time, another of his fields presented some lovely sunflowers, which I stopped to photograph (and posted on this blog). As luck would have it, the farmer pulled into his driveway, which we had blocked with our car, while I was snapping pics, so I complimented him on his sunflowers and asked him about his peaches. He said that he’d have happily sold me some but they were not ripe, however that he sends them over to a central collection area when they are ready. He then described how to find this place. For good measure, we exchanged names. I will certainly not forget his.

What I will call the “centro raccolta agricoltori” is the first middleman in the area’s farm product distribution system. It is located on the road that takes you from Montemassi to the fiera area near Braccagni, along the vecchia Aurelia, and is owned by one of the Mazzini brothers. I have added it to foursquare for your convenience. This centre concentrates, apparently, on just a few fruits, and has a monopoly on peaches, including signor Mazzini’s. These can be had at 5 euros per case, ie around 80 cents per kilo! It is open to the public Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 3pm to 7pm. (Click this button to see where it’s located.)

Loaded with peaches, we asked the signora where to get vegetables, and she said to go to her sister’s just one street over. Here, there are actually two farms that will sell you whatever is on hand. On the left is the larger and cheaper of the two, and at key afternoon hours you are likely to see other customers outside this large warehouse. In august prices are very low, everything about 80 cents or a euro per kilo, and Rita generously rounds down the price while chatting you up. We got a bit of everything, from onions to watermelon that you can see growing in the field right there. They provide to stores and supermarkets in the area, and sell a few things on the side to passing customers. As they don’t have cold storage, everything is picked and sold same day, which means you get real sun-ripened tomatoes. If you don’t see what you want, ask, and you will learn when it grows, or perhaps they’ll step out back and pick some for you. The exact location can be found now on Foursquare. (Click this button to see where it’s located.)

It’s a pleasure to know of these resources now, as we’ve been eating well, and cheaply too!

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By: arttrav

Alexandra Korey aka ArtTrav is a Florence-based art historian and arts marketing consultant.