If church is big here on Sunday, so too is lunch with friends and family, at home, but, often also, out. Yesterday, which was a glorious sunny spring day, we went to Sunday lunch at Mafuccio agriristorante.
Mafuccio is connected with the cooperativa agricola montemercole, a community that was established in 1984 in the hills outside Anghiari, and is based on principles of sustainable living, and organic and biodynamic production. (Notice on their card a little joke about ‘centimetro zero’.)
I went to Mafuccio on Friday, to interview a couple of young people. Filippo and Carlotta, brother and sister, have grown up in the cooperative and continue to live and work there with their family. They told me that, unfortunately, many people of their generation have left. When I asked if they themselves would stay or leave, with one voice, they said ‘Stay’. ‘Life here is simple, but what more could you want?’
I expressed an interest in coming to the restaurant, and they suggested Sunday lunch. Yes, it is important to book; Sunday lunch is popular, and they like to know how many guests there will be. I had a sense too, that they know many of the guests for whom they will be cooking. This place is pretty remote – there isn’t going to be passing trade. People will discover it out of an interest in the approach to food. Mimi, a friend from Australia, was arriving later that day and I was sure she’d like this place, so I booked.
On Sunday morning, we did a good walk, climbing high in the hills above Mafuccio. In one direction we had a view to Arezzo, in the other, over the Tiber valley. We were on a path that had a sign to the francescan monastery, La Verna – 6 hours. Birds were singing, lizards were out in the sun.
Then back to lunch, and we were warmly greeted by Filippo, who asked how the walk had been. The place filled up quickly, with groups of friends, some with children, and families, some of 3 generations. There was a convivial, relaxed feel about it all. People greeted each other as they arrived, and walked between tables (beautiful wooden tables made by Francesco, father of Carlotta and Filippo, who is also the chef). People came up to our table and we chatted, one man suggesting that we could maybe walk to La Verna after lunch. I doubt if this would happen in a Sydney restaurant.
Needless to say, the food was simply delicious, beautifully prepared and presented. And, served so graciously by Filippo.