Who: Pink Route
A net of more than 20 women in the Po river valleys
From Montalbo, the most western part to Cortina d'Alseno, the far eastern end, amongst the hundreds of kilometers, from the beginning of this project, there are more than 20 protagonists of these 'unconventional itineraries'. But it is impossible to find them on ordinary maps: because the members of the Pink Route are received amongst the vineyards on the hills, on the farms in the countrysides, in old country inns and in old artisan workshops in the city, on boats or on bicycles along the river Po, without forgetting the ballroom of Eva, for evenings of music and dance.
More than a route, the red thread (or should we say pink) that unites them all has the same goal: to help each other, to endorse one another, they exchange products, space and work. And that is not just theoretically speaking.
Marilena supplies meat to Daniela and Gianna, or pumpkin to Raffaella, who uses them in tortelli and serves them in the cellar of Federica and Mariolina. And so on, creating a neverending chain. " The agricultural sector is very male oriented. My father treated me differently ", says Marilena. " So, I studied and worked for years, together with the family, to recreate forests and fields of once upon a time, where buzzards nest and deer graze. By being a ring in the Pink Route chain, I have found a way to fulfill my dream of introducing the natural world of agiculture. " In fact, on the Borella farm, visitors wander in the mud in suitable boots, gathering chicory, turnip, rucola and malva. They buy cherries in June or grapes in September, they learn how to make liquors from hawthorne flowers in August and infusions of thistle in November.
And this is just an example that shows how the women of Pink Route network, from fields to tables by different means. Every valley here is different and, as explained by Mariolina and Federica, both expert enologists of La Tollara, " By associating ourselves with the experiences of others, we enhance each other mutually." And, important for all women notorious as multitaskers, as noted by Claudia Marchionni, art guide and expert in museum education:
" This way of working allows us to organize our time, resulting in professional and personal satisfaction."
Undoubtedly, all the women of Pink Route know that their qualities and knowledge base, sealed by their union, make up their strength. For example, ' Cuoche per casa' (cooks for home), did not start off just like that. It came about after market research, which demonstrated that cooking for homes could be very convenient. So, from menus to baby sitters, from cleaning, organizing dinners in clients' homes or in cellars with products from members of Pink Route, for grand dinners featuring homemade pasta with old family recipes, cakes and fried vegetables, refined forest fruit aspics, the idea was born. Obviously served with wine and products from the local area, supplied by other members.
And so, for those who spend the night at the agriturismo 'Ca Bacchetta', amongst the purple lavenders fields and wellness spa, during the day they can learn to extract lavender essence and make jams with homegrown fruit, or take part in a decoration class out in the open with Mariateresa Artusi of "Decorazioni'. You can try your hand at making pasta with eggs and flour under the guidance of Lucia Lucchini of 'L'Angolo Dolce e Salate', while tasting 12 different wines in a welcoming room with a delightful view of the vineyards of 'La Tollara'. From the refined rooms of "La finestra sul Po', Giulia and Luisella accompany visitors on a picnic, with straw baskets and plates designed by 'Lagoplasat' and the organization of Luciana Tiramani of 'SL Soluzioni'.
And then, you can go along the river, maybe to the docks near 'Ca Milla', for a ride on a motorboat, for a bicycle ride, or to buy sauces and jams, to learn the art of working with and drying out aromatic herbs from Camilla Rossi. Further along, Gianna Vitali introduces the diverse wines of the Val Tidone in the old cellars of 'Oca d'Oro', a charming inn decorated with old furnishings. Head towards 'l'Oca irriverente', an herbalist shop in Piacenza, which not only grows fruit and vegetables but also sells jams, honey and medicinal plants. Laura Magistrali tends to the beehives on her farm 'Magistrali', which stocks 12 wine labels and five kinds of honey from the surrounding hills and mountains.
In Piacenza, the Pink Route passes from the gothic Lombard in the leather workshop 'Le Mani e la Luna' in the cloisters of the Duomo, from Botticelli in the art workshop 'Arteficio', which organizes mini courses in craftsmanship. Obviously in this world of female entrepreneurs, it goes without a doubt that you can find baby sitters by the fireplace or in the farmyards along the Pink Route, learning the art of furniture restoration from Francesca Rossi, expert artisan from 'Kinky art & Repair'. The aperitivo is a wine tasting delight, savouring the natural characteristics of gutturnio wine, malvasia and chardonnay, on the terrace of the 'Baraccone' company, facing the plains and mountains.
Andreana Burgazzi , manager of the company, had inherited the family business and created wine tasting events, parties with street artists and grape harvests for the young ones. Giulia Francesca Nicoletti, instead, arrived from the city and fell in love with 'Uccellaia', a rural farmhouse on the hills of Val Nure, nestled among vineyards and chestnut forests, and now produces organic wine while under the rose garden, her wine goblets match the dishes prepared by the cooks and at courses by the experts.
Arriving here, the itinerary organized by Pink Route passes by one of it's highlights. In the park around the medieval Castle of Grazzano Visconti, Stefania Montanino coordinates Noctua: 10 naturalists, environmental and hiking guides offer a tour under the moon in the search for nocturnal birds, eco watching and birdwatching, and ghost hunting in the castle. This ghost, obviously, is a woman: the gentle Aloisia who, for 2000 years has been the protector of the fairer sex.