Agriturismo il Rigo
Agriturismo il Rigo, or simply “Il Rigo” as we call it, is one of our favorite places in Tuscany. We started working there more than 5 years ago and it was love at first sight. This five-century-old farmhouse in the middle of Val d’Orcia is a paradise for landscape lovers, photographers, foodies, and people with a passion for history and culture.
The following is a dialogue with Luisa, the young owner that takes care of it with her husband Matthias. Please scroll down and enjoy the read!
How did you find us?
MD: You wrote us an email just before December 2014, and in summer 2015, we published the first family photos taken at Il Rigo and its surroundings. Do you remember how you found our website and why you contacted us?
L: I remember seeing on Facebook a picture of a family photoshoot you did! I remember thinking that the style of your pictures resonated with me, with us: natural, authentic, and focused on the people! Nowadays photos are a language for themselves, I believe! We see hundreds and hundreds every day on social networks and we can tell a lot just from the light, the subjects, the editing. I still believe your style has a lot in common with us.
That home feeling
MD: We’ve been at il Rigo many times now, both for work and for fun. Once we brought our parents, our friends, and we’ve been your guests as well. We always loved the cozy atmosphere of being your guests at home rather than in a hotel. At MeDisProject, we always shared the same approach. We had dinner together with our guests many times, and we also hosted a couple of them. On the other hand, even though we shared our story, we never liked showcasing too much of our private life. How do you reconcile your private life with work?
L: It’s complex, as we share our home with our guests! Even though our story and our lifestyle are part of our job, we as human beings need our space and our privacy. I imagine we have drawn a line to divide what we want to share and what it’s unnecessary to showcase, but it was somehow a natural and mutual process in the family, that was and is anyway not always easy.
Getting married at Agriturismo il Rigo
MD: At il Rigo, you organize small homemade weddings as well. You offer a complete and personalized service, supplying almost everything the couples need. You take care of the meals during their stay, and you even arrange organic flower decorations directly from your cut-flower garden. After so many events, how would you describe your perfect couple?
L: A couple that is sensitive for sustainable choices, that favors quality above quantity, especially when it comes to food and decorations. I would also say a couple of genuine people, willing to make family and friends the core of their celebration (more than looking for a chance to brag about), freeing the wedding day from a superstructure that is often imposed by the wedding industry nowadays (I terribly dislike the term “wedding industry”… What we do at Il Rigo goes as far as possible away to the idea of an industry).
Tell us about your love story
MD: Your love story is very romantic as well. Would you like to tell us more about that?
L: Man, you make me blush! We met very young, Matthias was playing the violin in a youth orchestra and my family was supporting the organization, and they convinced the conductor to let me play with them, and I was not really happy about it! Then at the first rehearsal, I met Matthias and it was not so bad after all! Nothing really happened during that summer fling, but when we met again years later, we felt that a connection was still there, so he left his job in Munich, and here we are!
MD: We found that, throughout the years, the big part of our clients are similar in a lot of ways. We can say we are now friends with many of them, and we love to keep in touch, even if they live mostly abroad. For some reason, we also think that many of them would get along very well with each other. Did you ever get this feeling with your guests?
L: Absolutely! It’s not uncommon that guests become friends during their stay at Il Rigo and then ask to be seated together during dinner 🙂 It has been so nice to see that happening, even in the last couple of years, when you had the feeling everyone was more suspicious than ever: apparently people here relax in a way that allows even these interactions!
Life during the lockdown
MD: We visited Agriturismo il Rigo with our son as soon as we could travel outside town when the first national lockdown was finally over. It was at the beginning of June 2020, and it’s hard to describe the feeling of being there after three months of confinement. We also took some photos of you and your husband, which we published in our visual diary. How do you recall that period? What has the pandemic changed in your life and your business?
L: Of course like for everyone else the pandemic caused heavy economical disadvantages for our business. But on the other hand – as Il Rigo is located in the middle of the countryside – the first lockdown has been a fantastic time for us, I almost feel ashamed to say it! You see, Il Rigo is our home but often we don’t get the chance to enjoy the best of it because we are so busy working! We had a splendid spring in 2020, ate outdoors almost every day, slept on the grass, and enjoyed nature and the surroundings as never before! Then the reality came back quite roughly! Our work increased but it has been difficult to plan it in advance, and that didn’t make things easier for us. In any case, I don’t feel like complaining: we are still standing and always remain true to our values and I believe our service had a consistent quality all the time! That’s already a huge achievement for these years!
Family & legacy
MD: We’re also good friends of your mom Lorenza and your dad Vittorio. At their house in San Quirico, Casa dell’Abate Naldi, they offer a similar experience based on authenticity. Even though your businesses are separate, it looks like there’s a common thread between you and your family. What are the most important values that your parents taught you?
L: There is this famous quote from Nanni Moretti’s film “Speriamo che sia femmina”, which is: “chi vende non è più suo” (literally “who sells doesn’t belong anymore”). Well, I was brought up with bread and “who sells doesn’t belong anymore”, so basically my whole life I felt this call to do my best to save the family heritage, to maintain it, and bring it to the next generation, without selling. I do it my own way, of course, but I definitely feel the honor and the burden of this choice I made.
When to go to Agriturismo il Rigo?
MD: The latest time we’ve been there was at the end of October, and we took photos of a beautiful Austrian couple. Val d’Orcia’s landscape looks perfect anytime, and we’ve been there basically in any season. Do you have a favorite time of the year – and in which period do you recommend coming for a visit?
L: Val d’Orcia really is amazing any time! Now that I’m writing it is December and just today I witnessed such a beautiful sunset on the naked hills, freshly plowed, it was splendid to admire! For me, I’m a spring girl and nothing beats the lush green of the Val d’Orcia at the beginning of May!
Climate change & Sustainability
MD: As a farmer, and a host, you are very concerned about climate change. You often mention that and its consequences on your life in your Instagram profile. How do you imagine the future of your Agriturismo and is there anything you’re planning to make it even more sustainable?
L: That’s such a dramatic question! Sometimes I think that it’s better not to look too much forward, because it’s really scary, and it’s better to focus on one step after the other instead! There is so much we would like to do to improve the efficiency of Il Rigo, from the energy used in the farm to the better use of resources, soil, water… Unfortunately often we are slowed down from a suffocating bureaucracy (don’t forget that we are in a protected UNESCO site and not everything is possible). Anyway, for nearly 10 years we are recycling our wastewater to reuse it for irrigation, and in winter we are planning to put solar panels on our barn. One of the next big projects we are developing is the creation of a big collection basin for rainwater (a lake between two hills basically). Water is life, without it, you cannot think of making anything else, we are just waiting for a little help from the state to finance this project!