These ancient trees play an essential role at Rastrello, the boutique hotel the Wassmanns opened in a nearby five-hundred-year-old former palazzo in 2020. “As soon as my family purchased our olive farm in 1995, we would come down—I was living in Munich and my parents in the U.S.—to pick our olives and cold-press them at the local cooperative mill,” recalls Rastrello co-owner Christiane Wassmann. “The harvest has always been the time that we come together and reunite and bond in the grove.”
Every harvest since, friends and family from all over the world have come to Umbria to pick olives and gather for alfresco lunches on the farm. In tandem with the hotel, the fresh-pressed extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO) has evolved into an organic- and DOC-certified eponymous brand illustrative of the hotel’s commitment to sustainability.
The Wassmanns’ trees are comfortably spaced apart, now a rarity among the plethora of high-density groves, and they have a strict policy of no tilling, and no artificial pesticides or fertilizers. The only added nourishment, apart from the sun and rain, comes from the family’s free-ranging chickens, which also contribute toward pest control.
An on-site kitchen garden helps feed the family, staff, and guests at the hotel, and the award-winning oil makes its way onto the hotel menu in numerous ways, one of the most delicious of which is homemade olive oil ice cream.
Baskets, used for numerous activities at Rastrello, like carrying eggs from the farm, are woven by Oscar Menicaglia, a Panicale native who has been crafting them for decades out of olive branches he collects from the grove. They are a functional reminder of Rastrello’s multifaceted relationship with the land.
Taste and Place: The Design Hotels Book is a broad and inclusive exploration of food, an integral part of purposeful travel. In our most ambitious book yet, we have called upon leading writers, photographers, creative chefs, and culinary innovators to delve into forward-looking ideas and inspiring practices around food through our hotels, destinations, and larger community. The online sale profits from this year’s book will go to humanitarian aid actions suggested by our two Ukrainian member hotels.