Roberto's lemon farm - Ventimiglia, Italy
Our first day in Europe started on a frustrating note. Jay’s bag didn’t arrive with the plane we were on and we were forced to leave the airport with one bag less. However, our spirits were lifted as soon as we began the train commute from Nice to Ventimiglia where we were going to be spending our first 2 nights. Surprisingly, Ventimiglia is in Italy and only an hour train commute from the French town of Nice. It is an incredibly beautiful trip along the french riviera. The train stops at small coastal towns along the way. It was our first sight of the crystal clear water and spectacular mansions nestled among the coastal hills.
In a moment we had crossed the border into Italy. The landscape had changed from town to farmlands and the signposts had switched from French to Italian. A tall Italian man in his farming attire was waiting for us at the station. He introduced himself as Roberto, the owner of Draco Citri, a lemon farm tucked away in the hills of Ventimiglia where we would be staying for two nights. Roberto raced up the extremely narrow and winding roads, sometimes only wide enough to fit one vehicle at a time. We eventually reached the end of the mountain road and drove through the stone wall entrance of Draco Citri. The farm offered breathtaking vistas of the entire valley, the Italian Alps at one end and the Mediterranean Sea at the other.
The next morning we woke up to coffee and an Italian loaf that Roberto had set out for us before he left to the market. The Menton and Ventimiglia markets are a popular place for tourists to find organic fruit and veg produced by the local farmers. Roberto returned with a few lemon and cherry left over from his days work. We were then given a full tour of the operations on Draco Citri. Roberto showed us his diverse range of orchards from lemon to cherry trees and even finger limes!
It was a wholesome experience learning about the different farming methods and the importance of organic farming, a huge passion of Roberto’s. We got to know Roberto more personally in the time spent with him. Leaving his life in Turin at a young age and being moved by the quote “what is beautiful is good and what is good is beautiful”, he was led him to study theoretical physics. Much like us, he has a passion for travel having lived with an unknown tribe in the Yuctan’s tropical forest and spending some time in the States working for Steve Jobs. After a full life of theory, theatre and travel, Roberto explained that he is now devoting the last period of his life to his craft works; his children Mattia and Camilla, PETRA (a small group of thinkers disguised as a software house), some novels, and the ‘Eppitteto-Remmert Method’, (a recipe worth billions of dollars, enough to feed Africa).
Roberto describes himself accurately as “the guardian of the green, yellow and purple wizardry of Draco Citri, to present it to his guests and keep it away from time”. It is easy to tell that he is a story -teller as he regaled us with many of his illustrious tales. He is an interesting man that we were lucky enough to meet.
Back at the farm house, Jay sat patiently waiting for his luggage to arrive with only a pair of jeans on to enjoy the cold mountain air. Thankfully we had an endless supply of cherries and tea to keep us busy.
For a reasonable price, we highly recommend experiencing life on this beautiful lemon farm in Italy by visiting Draco Citri on Air BnB.
We loved the simplicity of farm living at Draco Citri. It is easy to feel connected to the place when you take time to walk around the natural forests, eat the fruit off the trees and stop to enjoy the scenery. Without any transport, we set off down the mountain road on foot to town for dinner. A scenic 30 minute walk takes you to the captivating medieval town of Ventimiglia. Built in the 13th century, the city’s ancient building speak of the Gothic wars that once took place there.
Meandering our way between the buildings, we found our way to the cobbled shores of the Med. Too beautiful for words!
There were endless Italian restaurants along the beachfront promenade, unspoiled by crowds of tourists that you would usually find in the coastal towns on the Med. We picked a quaint pizzeria and enjoyed a typical Italian pizza watching the sunset.