- Region: Sicily
Gianfranco Becchina bought and carefully restored the villa and farm grounds formally owned by Princess Pignatelli of Spain, located on the outskirts of Castelvetrano, a small city in southwestern Sicily near the extensive ruins of the ancient Greek colony of Selinunte.
In addition to the restoration of the structures around the estate, Gianfranco's goal was to also bring new life to the sixty acres of olive groves that extend from behind the high stone walls surrounding the estate. Gianfranco set out to do what many considered a follia ("folly") and develop a world-class olive oil in a land where quantity always reigned over quality. Gianfranco took great care to revitalize the olive groves, many of the 300 year old Nocellara del Belice olive trees, which are native to southwestern Sicily, have been grafted or pruned back to create younger healthy trees. The Nocellara olives from this variety of olive tree are very round like a walnut from which the name derives (Noce means "walnut" in Italian). An elaborate irrigation system delivers water to every tree from a nearby underground spring in the event of a rigorous Summer draught. The olives are hand picked when still green but with a light sheen of white that only persists for two weeks at the most. Picking the olives at this stage is regarded by many local growers as too early to harvest because of lower resuling oil yields. Gianfranco loves the intense flavors that come from this early harvest and it has become a signature taste profile that many American chefs adore. Using the continuous cycle method, the oil is not filtered and has bright green chlorophyll suspended in each bottle acting as a natural preservative.
Flanked by his two beautiful daughters, Gabriella and Valeria, Gianfranco now offeres tours, visits and bed and breakfast facilities to the food and wine lover interested in visiting his fascinating corner of Sicily.
- Street: Via Santissima Trinita'
- Postcode: 91022
- City: Castelvetrano
- State: Trapani (TP)
- Telephone: +39-393-452-8656
- Fax: +39-0924-191-6405