Monaci delle Terre Nere, the farm and hotel near Mount Etna, was where Sofie, the creative director of Peau de Chagrin, first made a connection between our approach and Slow Living. Guido Alessandro Coffa, the founder of Monaci delle Terre Nere, a native Sicilian, makes for a surprising champion of the Slow Living movement.
Alessandro worked in the automotive industry before launching a new career in hospitality and agriculture, where he embraced organic farming and sustainable practices. Having worked in the US and UK overseeing automobile engineering, production and management, Mr. Coffa returned to Sicily to help out at his father's car business. After eight years he planned to return to the US or UK, but the plot of land he purchased near Mount Etna was to change his life direction completely.
Inspired by Mount Etna and familial ties with his mother, Alessandro Coffa launched a sustainable farm. At that point he was unaware of the Slow Food Movement, but it lead to him discovering and redefining essential values in his life. The land beckoned him and he became an agricultor, passionate about organic farming and renewable resources. The hotel followed this ethos and operates with the same core values.
Sometimes guests complain about the price of hotel meals and Coffa explains why. He told us that the food is grown and produced using traditional labour-intensive techniques. It takes time to grow using organic sustainable processes and the food is more healthy and flavoursome because of it. The way the food is prepared and cooked is also not to be rushed, using time-honoured methods and recipes, the results of which have won Monaci delle Terre Nere two Gambero Rosso prizes.
By explaining the process to his guests, Alessandro Coffa is building a connection between himself and his clients, which is essential in all areas of this well considered operation. As a result the customers, or co-producers, to use Slow Food Movement vernacular, appreciate and value the work that has created the goods they buy; be it a bag, pasta or a bottle of wine. It returns a sense of value to how goods are made and highlights the benefit of making things with thoughtfulness and time. This happens in tandem with recognising environmental impact, longevity of an object, the taste of food and the appreciation of traditional knowledge carried on by artisans and farmers.