It is no surprise that we work only with people we adore. We look for incredible food yes, but also wonderful humans making a difference in this industry.
Our first encounter with the Regina dei Sibillini was in Milan, at a local fair of Italian products. We purchased a box of Senatore Cappelli spaghetti: back in London, we could not believe what we just experienced.
In 2017 we drove our VW vintage car to the Sibillini mountains to meet with Alice and Moreno, visit their land in full Red Beetle style.
Husband and wife, running a super young company, created something many described as "crazy". Wheat on mountains? Nonsense. Yet, for centuries that was the norm.
Call it intuition, stubborness, call it love for their land, Regina dei Sibillini was born. And we couldn't be happier!
Here a quick Q&A with Alice, to get to know her a little more. We're sure you're gonna love her as much as we do!
Q: La Regina dei Sibillini is a very young company (established in 2012), what was the idea and motivation to create it?
A: We started the company in 2012, but present on the market since 2014 with the first pasta from our mountain grains. It is a family business and our idea was born from the strong bond we have with our territory, and also from the desire to stay in the places where we grew up. It often happens to see people abandoning our lands, we stayed to create something from the territory and for the territory.
Q: Surely growing wheat in the mountains, collecting it, and transforming it is not easy. How much did you have to study, or what did you have to learn to start the company and the everyday activities?
A: Cultivating durum wheat in the mountains, above 600 meters above sea level was a gamble. As a crop it is not very widespread in mountain areas due to the difficulties of cultivating and the climate. Also the characteristics of mountain soil (fragmented, with many slopes and in some cases difficult to reach), and the less productivity compared to that of hilly or coastal areas. I had to approach different jobs, starting with learning farming and growth cycles, to being the entrepreneur and the manager of the company. To study and learn, however, you never stop and I have a lot more to learn. That's why I try in every occasion to compare myself with those who know more than me, observe, ask as much as I can.
Q: What is your relationship with the territory and the mountains nearby?
A: As already anticipated in the answer above, we are a family very tied to the territory. I grew up listening to the stories of local folklore, the legends of the Sibillini Mountains, and anecdotes about our mountains, told by my grandparents, but also by my father, who is very passionate about local history.
I became a passionate hiker even if I do not practice as much as I would like. The contact with the solitary, impervious and wonderful environment of my mountains regenerates me. For me living here is quite natural, as it is natural every morning to wake up, open the window that faces "my Regina" (Monte Priora, called Queen of the Sibillini, the second highest peak of the Sibillini Mountains located in territory of Montefortino) and contemplate a few seconds before starting the day.
And it is from this deep love that the founding idea of the company was born. We started with the first 10 hectares of land located in the territory of Montefortino and slowly we extended our territorial endowment. To date we have over 40ha of land that extends over three municipalities: Montefortino, Montemonaco and Amandola.
Q: You call it "mountain pasta", in what way is it different?
A: The wheat grows under the snow ("under the snow, bread" is our motto, and is embedded in our local culture) that covers everything from November to March, in an uncontaminated environment. For the most part the National Park of the Sibillini Mountains, is a protected area. On our land we sow late grains that adapt to the climatic and characteristics of the area, using only certified seeds. The wheat that grows here is healthy, very aromatic and gives a characteristic flavor to the pasta. Moreover, at the expense of productivity that is much lower than that obtained in hill or plain land, the quality of the grain is excellent.
Q: Tell us about your very good pasta, how do you make it?
A: Our pasta is produced with an artisan process, bronze drawing, which makes it rough and porous, able to retain more sauces and condiments. We dry it at low temperatures, below 44°C, and for a time variable according to the format, in order to preserve the scent and flavor of the wheat, and its organoleptic properties.
Q: How do you suggest cooking it to make the most of it?
A: Absolutely al dente! It is very important to appreciate the taste and consistency and is much more digestible.
Q: What plans do you have for the future?
A: A wholegain range and to keep producing the highest quality of mountain pasta.