Alina Pinelli, together with her family Lucia and Giovanni, are the founders of countryslowliving.com (Il Fontanaro Farm, Villas & Co) – a resort where travellers come from all over the world to learn about the Italian heritage in organic wines, olive oils, saffron and honey, to discover the culture of the Tuscan and Umbrian lands.
With a background based in advertising agencies like Saatchi & Saatchi, along with public relations, she decided to move from the city of Rome to stay permanently in her Fontanaro farm within Tuscany Umbria, and to transform the family passion of country living into a business. She has a degree in Professional Sommelier of Wine and Olive Oils and also has a degree in Professional Cooking.
What is it that you do exactly?
My work is to let my guests’ dreams come true. Here at Fontanaro I have visitors of all ages and from all countries who would like to learn about the good food and wines of Italy.
I organise wine tours to the vineyards marked as the best from magazines like Wine Spectator. Together with my Mum, Lucia, I organise classes in Italian slow cooking and the making of organic olive oils and wines. Here at my eco luxury organic farm people learn how to make the Italian pasta as per the original recipes and how to recognise a good olive oil from a poor one that contains no vitamins! We also have an eco salty infinity swimming pool, including a maxi Jacuzzi, which helps guests relax and enjoy the countryside.
In order to make a memorable holiday I also edit a travel blog about things to do and see in Tuscany and Umbria, I also translate all the local events that aren’t advertised for the foreign visitor. My aim is to share information and news in order that my guests feel like a traveller and not a tourist.
What do you enjoy most about what you do?
I’m very satisfied when my guests are happy and mark my place as a memorable experience! I try to greet them as often as possible and I try to surprise them with invitations to the things that they like. I can organise private visits to the best cheese farm of Pienza, and for those who love music I can arrange VIP ticket passes to the live events in the area.
What would you say are the 3 best places you’ve ever stayed?
My favourite place is Paradiso di Frassina of Montalcino, where they play Mozart in the vineyard. I also love the 17th Century small theatre in the medieval hill town of Panicale where, every week, they hold cultural events and music concerts. I cannot forget to mention Cortona or Montepulciano where I go virtually twice per week.
What’s been your most memorable dining experience to date?
It is not easy to answer; here dining is something really important and we have a huge selection of great locations – anyway, I love the small rerstaurant, Locanda del Principato, which opens only twice a week, where you can go only by reservation, because in here everything is really, really fresh.
Have you rubbed shoulders with the rich and famous, either through your work or your travels?
My village was the place that David McTagger, Founder of Greenpeace International, chose to live in his retiremnet. I’m extremely proud of him and I would like to organise an event for him which could show the activity of Greenpeace and to attract the “green tourist” to this part of the world.
What currently ranks highest on your travel wish list?
Actually… I’m happy at home, here in Tuscany Umbria, where there are thousands of wineries, places to discover, Roman ruins, and food extravaganzas. When I have time for myself I love to explore the area. Next time I hope to go to the winery within the Etruscan tombs of Chiusi Chianciano (Siena).
Thank you for taking part in our interview, Alina. You have a lovely spot at Il Fontanaro and I urge everyone to visit your site and look at the photographs… and of course your excellent TripAdvisor reviews!