A Focus on Reggello – the Birthplace of Valoriani Wood-fired Ovens
Valoriani wood-fired ovens are authentic Italian wood ovens, made by the Valoriani family and their employees at their factory in Reggello in Tuscany, where generations of workmanship and know-how go into crafting what is often regarded as the ultimate wood-fired oven. But, apart from the Valoriani factory and quarry, what else do we know about Reggello?
The town is a cool and shaded one that becomes a bolthole for workers in Florence, whenever they get the chance to get out of the city and relax. Reggello regards itself as having the best olive oil in the whole of Italy and has won competitions for its olio d’oliva. A lesser-known fact is that the town is mentioned in Dan Brown’s ‘The Da Vinci Code’.
The ancient forest of Vallambrosa provides lots of opportunities to be at one with nature and fittingly, in a town known for extraordinary wood-fired ovens, also has some equally amazing trees.
Vallambrosa was first established by 11th century monks, who realised that silver firs here were a valuable resource for those building Florentine palaces around the region. The entrepreneurial monks brought in an income from the trees that they tended, primarily focusing on silver fir and beech. The latter is, of course, a great wood for a wood-fired oven and often bought in the form of compressed virgin beech briquettes.
The forest was taken over by the State following the foundation of the Kingdom of Italy in 1861. In 1977, it became the Biogenetic Nature Reserve. The work of the monks was definitely beneficial to the forest, which boasts some fabulous specimens including a 60-metre tall silver fir. Nowadays, the 1279-hectare forest is also home to beech, black pines, Douglas firs, chestnut trees, oaks, maples and hornbeams.
Another tourism asset to be found in the Reggello district is the Abbey of Vallombrosa, built by nobleman, San Giovanni Gualberto, a Florentine nobleman who arrived at Reggello and built a stone church on the site in 1230. A monastery was quickly established and grew, necessitating the addition of cloisters in the 15th century, along with tower, kitchen, refectory and sacristy. Following a few fires – not caused by sparks from wood-fired ovens, by the way – more work had to be carried out in the 17th century, giving the Abbey its current-day look.
And then there is Sammezzano Castle, considered to be the most important example of Oriental architecture in the whole of Italy and created through a passion for the artistic movement of Orientalismo. Moorish cultural influence and expression combine with Italian facets within the design, with the latter including Latin mottos, musical notes and Italian phrases. With domes, bas-relief, mosaics, arches and some incredible architectural elements, the castle represents a journey from China, to Arabia and on to Spain, set within an Italian landscape, and is a fusion of cultural elements from all.
Although the castle was originally built in 1605, for Ximenes D’Aragona and has its roots way back in Roman times, the man responsible for this incredible architectural gem was Ferdinand Panciatichi Ximenes D’Aragona. After inheriting the castle, he carried out the oriental transformation between 1853 and 1889. The tragedy is that it is now in desperate need of restoration works and having to appeal for help in this regard. Currently closed to the public, Reggello’s gem does not know if, or when, it can reopen to visitors.
Valoriani was founded, by Pietro Valoriani in the Florentine suburb of Figline Valdano, just one year after the castle works were completed. The family moved to Reggello when Gino Valoriani recognised the unique qualities of the ‘cotto clay’ that makes Valoriani wood-fired ovens so special and the rest is history, with a global business being testimony to what makes the ovens so special.
And one final fact for you. The current family head and owner, Massimo Valoriani, was a school friend of the former assistant football manager of the English national side, Franco Baldini.
Perhaps one day you will visit Reggello and see the factory and Reggello’s other attractions for yourself? Be sure to enjoy all the town can offer, if you do.