An agricultural village of historic origins? No, Monte Sante Marie is much, much more. It is a true and real ‘system’ whose story and legends, architecture and agriculture, products and traditions, culture and art, projects and professions all bond and act together to form a complete reality. And, why not, with dreams: those of its proprietors, their friends, guests and passers-by.
Monte Sante Marie, with its bundle of happenings, battles and mysteries, is, in fact, the hub of a ‘work in progress’ and a long-term design. There is a will to recreate and reconstruct the village until it becomes what it once was. It is a community inspired by sobriety, knowledge and respect of the past as its primary goal, but also as a center for proposals and new ideas, as well as being a fountain of economic and intellectual substance.
All of the elements are present. Stefano Tesi, owner and continuator of this antique family business. He is, as well, a professional journalist who specializes in worldwide travel, customs and cultural reporting and works with the most important news and magazine publications in Italy. He is author of books and guides which deal with the environment, economy, agriculture, wine and gastronomy. Stefano personally follows the running of the Estate and, in particular, the production of extra-virgin olive oil (as well as being a professional taster). For years he conducted radio programs (he is an enthusiast of rock & roll, soul and r & b), has collected vinyl records, and been a music critic. All of his multiple interests come out when speaking with him: favorite among guests are the ‘chats’ they have with Stefano while sitting under the stars in the main square after dinner.
Stefano’s wife, Daniela, is an editor, publicist and copywriter. Her ‘bright idea’ several years ago was to make Monte Sante Marie the center of her activities by using the instrument of the century: Internet. This has transformed her into a ‘true’ pioneer and many articles have been written about her, as well as her having participated on the Italian TV talk show called Maurizio Costanzo Show. She has received honors from the Minister of Labor of Bassolino for being an example as a “young entrepreneur who has discovered how to successfully work and live with success in the countryside”. What are her specialties? Small volumes, non-fiction books, art calendars printed in limited editions and a magazine dedicated to all women who work in an environment which is physically or culturally challenging. Daniela’s cooking is also special: especially her homemade cakes. She is the organizer of the lectures, courses and programs organized by the Estate.
Surrounding Daniela and Stefano are two silly dogs (Aspasia and Sparga), numerous non-descript cats, many friends and guests of the Estate. All move among themselves in an eclectic group: journalists, famous and not-so-famous writers (Allen Ginsberg passed this way…), artists and painters (like George Schneeman), poets, politicians, public administrators (several famous mayors), architects, actors of stage, screen and TV, entrepreneurs, businesspeople and many ‘regular’ folks who have found in the atmosphere of the Crete Senesi relaxation, inspiration, interests and love.
Why is Monte Sante Marie able to unite all of these different qualities and personalities?