Italy has faced major environmental controversy but it’s also in the middle of an eco-renaissance.
On the heels of its Nutella scandal, it’s important to acknowledge the individuals, winemakers, hotels, restaurants and even a corporation dedicated to sustainability while preserving some of Italy’s oldest traditions that are slipping away.
Here are 5 Masters of Italy’s Eco-Renaissance:
Umbria’s RoccaFiore has it all: a boutique hotel, vineyards, cantina, wellness center and a restaurant featuring a sumptuous Zero-K menu. You’ll pinch yourself in midst of lavender gardens and sweeping views over Umbria’s hills and medieval towns. Try a safari through the native organic grechetto vineyards that make a crisp white. Roccafiore is equally committed to ecological balance as well as style and Italian chic. All the while generating their own solar energy that saves a whopping 90.000 Kg of carbon emissions annually!
If you like skiing, biking or climbing, this is the place to be. Nestled in Alta Badia, home to the famous Sella Ronda, this sexy new eco hotel is quickly becoming a traveler’s favorite. Perched on the Sasso Santa Croce Mountain, when you take a seat on its panoramic lounge or soak in the outdoor hot tub, you can’t help but feel one with nature. In a UNESCO World Heritage site, locals, tourists, and developers work together to protect nature’s delicate ecosystem. Proud of its KlimaHotel certificate, the Naturhotel Miraval meets very high standards to have a low impact.
Many an expat has renovated an old farmhouse under the Tuscan sun. But an entire village? That’s what international travel group TUI is doing. Toscana Resort Castelfalfi is an 800-year-old medieval hamlet that had only five residents left at the time of purchase. Most had moved out of the village years ago in search for employment. Now, employment and opportunity has come to them.
Situated on more than 2,700 acres of vineyards, olive groves, woods and lakes, TUI is busting their buns to make Toscana Resort Castelfalfi sustainable. 96 percent of water comes from collected rainwater on property. And 64 percent of energy comes from renewable resources. Even its promotional paper products are FSC-certified paper to combat deforestation. (Ahem, Ferrero.) Toscana is collaborating with local Italian agencies to create sustainable solutions such as a three-year trial of biomass production with the Scuola Superiore S. Anna of Pisa. And for olive oil lovers, in 2016 its entire production will be completely organic.
If you like Barolo, then you’ll love Sagrantino di Montefalco. Especially from Umbria’s famed cantina Arnaldo Caprai. One of the biggest producers of Sagrantino, owner and winemaker Marco Caprai is committed to sustainable growing practices and not just in his vineyards. His vision is for all Italian winemakers to join his New Green Revolution project, limit pesticides, create vineyard biodiversity, limit CO2 emissions and more. He recently presented his sustainable ideals at EXPO MILAN 2015. In vino veritas. And sustainability works. Because his wine – is fantastic!
Ashley and Jason Bartner, an enthusiastic American couple, help keep local traditions alive while staying green. At their inn, farm and cooking school they use solar panels for hot water and a sulfur mineral spring provides the water for the house and garden. These and more sustainable practices helped them earn a Green Award from Trip Advisor. The couple’s Farm to Fork cooking classes have been featured on many top ten lists due to their unique hands-in -the-dirt garden experiences. You can learn everything from how to forage to how to making your own Italian dried meat and sausages.
Every day more Italians and expats in Italy are experiencing an eco-renaissance by realizing how important it is to become stakeholders in preserving not just the culture but also the sustainability of the land they love.
Oh, and about that Nutella scandal? I have a solution. Make your own. There’s no palm oil. And it’s delicious.
Related on EcoSalon
Photos courtesy of: Roccafiore, Ashley Bartner, Arnaldo Caparai Vineyards, Toscana Resort Castelfalfi, Tuscany, Naturhotel Miraval, Alta Badia