Il Silene: Art, Food and Wine

Opening the door of Roberto Rossi’s, Il Silene, on the Monte Amiata in southern Tuscany, is a bit like stepping into the wardrobe to find Narnia. From the outside, the restaurant, which has four rooms for guests upstairs, does not call attention to itself. But inside, the fire is lit, the bar is open and the restaurant is ready to serve.

Roberto and his longtime assistant, Lella, use local, organic products in traditional recipes, but with a distinctive flair.

My favorite starter is the “carne battuta” made using meat from older calves raised locally by Roberto’s father.


A signature “secondo” is “piccione” (pigeon).

Roberto

Roberto’s wine cellar is filled with wines that he has selected and bought from vintners he knows well. One night, when I was with a group of colleagues, he pulled out an amazing “vertical” of Giuseppe Rinaldi Barolo….or another time, he suggested I try a glass of Marco de Bartoli Samperi, one of the most exquisite dessert wines I’ve ever tasted…or sometimes, just a lovely glass of Rosso di Montalcino from Il Poggione or Biondi Santi.

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Just down the hill from Il Silene is “Il Giardino”, a 40-acre farm that conceptual artist Daniel Spoerri has transformed into a sculpture garden. Some of the former farmhouse buildings have been transformed into an attractive bar, lunch restaurant and small enoteca.

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And the adjacent one, houses four apartments available during the warmer months for guest stays.

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Among the art sculptures are special olive trees called “Olivastra” that only grow on the western slope of the Monte Amiata. After pitting the olives, Roberto makes oil as part of what he named the “Veronelli project”, named for one of his mentors Luigi Veronelli, who spearheaded the movement beginning in the sixties for high quality food and wine in Italy.

Il Silene

Il Giardino di Daniel Spoerri

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