Becoming Part of a Tuscan Family, Calci Italy

In Destinations, Europe by Sara Kauss

My husband and I took to an adventure in Italy after our wedding. We had traveled to Europe a few years prior; taking trains and planes to one place and the next, staying in well known hotels and sticking to the tourist thing. But, on this last trip to Italy, we decided we wanted to spend more time getting to know the people, the culture and live for just a few days like the Italians! And with that we created an authentic Italian itinerary, including a rental car with plans to stop at hidden gems and stay at bed and breakfasts throughout the Tuscan region.

What an amazing adventure. I highly recommend driving the next time you’re visiting the region. When we got lost on the sparsely marked highway, we would pull off to the side of the road and enjoy an espresso and a delicious pastry, do our best to chat with the locals and eventually find our way to where we were headed. Of course, if you have a type A personality, where structure, a timeline and detailed plan is paramount, this way of travel is not for you! But, if you’re the type to take a hiccup and make it into a beautiful memory, this unrefined exploration of the Tuscan countryside is right up your {Italian} alley!

One of my favorite stops on the trip was to a little town called Calci, near Pisa. As I mentioned, meeting people and learning about them is why we travel. After taking winding streets and cobblestone pathways we stumbled upon our resting place for the subsequent few days. Being half-way to fluent in Spanish, provided enough similarities to Italian to understand the basics.

Arriving at Gli Olivi Bed and Breakfast in Calci, we were greeted with the warmest smile and homemade treats from the owners. Miretta Collodi and Giuliano Casella are Gli Olivi’s caretakers and have lived at the residence for over 30 years. Giuliano was even born there! Their home, Gli Olivi, features a babbling brook, waterfall dam and olive trees that have been in Giuliano’s family for 300 years. Through very broken Italian/Spanish/English, we spent hours touring their land and taking in stories of the Tuscan residence, their Olive Oil manufacturing facility on site and the historic Olive Trees.

Miretta and Giuliano were gracious enough to teach us all about the process of harvesting. We learned that the process begins in late October or early November with a sheet on the ground under the olive tree, which is then shaken to make the olives fall. The olives are then put in boxes to be transported for squeezing. Every 4 or 5 days, the harvested olives are pressed for oil and stored in earthenware jars. These special jars guarantee good conservation of the oil which does not allow it to be affected by temperature changes. Gli Olivi’s oil is all natural and delicious of course, as they do not use any chemicals during cultivation.

We met the friendly pets of the family, a 25 year old horse named Black and gracious and a playful puppy name Jack who loyally follows Miretta everywhere. We fed the horses their favorite treat butterscotch hard candies and watched them graze through the Olive Trees, nay’ing at passers-by on foot and motorcycle pedestrians. Spending time in this truly magical place, with people who treated us as their own family, gave us lifelong memories that will keep us smiling for years to come!