Interview: Ippolita Spezia

Interview: Ippolita Spezia, Buseto Palizzolo

Profession: Owner of Spezia educational farm.



Description of the environment where the activity is taking place:

This place is wellknown for the protection of slowfood.

In the farm there are a lot of animal species, and each one has a specific role:

  • Sicilian Bee: Honey production and pollination
  • Sicilian Chicken: Egg production
  • Little donkeys: Ground clearance

The farm is located in the territory of Trapani, district of Buseto Palizzolo.

Inside the farm there is a Scent Garden and, under construction, a Butterfly Garden, that will host some particular plants to attract butterflies.

The Farm holiday is 10 hectare big plus 9 hectares of wood.

The educational activities are very important, and are implemented for children with disabilities and not as well as for marginalized groups in the society.

The gardens have been created by the Spezia family, that has also realized the stone decorations and those made with the lava of Pantelleria. Many other decorations come from the citadel of Custonace.

This family-run business (handed down to the daughter Ippolita Spezia) has changed over time, from zoo techniques and livestock to reception and farm holiday activities.


Description of the technique/method/practice implemented.

Biological method to respect not only the plants but also people; so pesticides are not used but stable manure of animals that don’t eat G.M.O products.

Diversification and multifunctionality activities allowed to have a major consumption. The company uses solar energy as main source of clean energy; there for solar panels have been installed in the area and thermal insulation in the attics.

The position of the plant is not casual, and indeed every plant and the different equipped areas have been placed according to the activities.


List of natural products (fruits, vegetables, plants, fish and so on) depending on the production activity:

The Scent Garden is divided in two parts, aromatic herbs and officinal herbs.

Amongst the officinal herbs we can find:

  • Artemisia à This plant has a silvery colored and palmate leaf, in addition, it contains an important healing substance for cancer. Since ancient times it was considered a vermifuge herb for those who suffered from pinworms or taenia, and it was used as plaster or infusion. It was also common to put it in front of the door of the house to remove grass snakes and rats, which hate this smell.
  • Rue à The characteristic of this plant is the palmate leaf (like the Artemisia), but it is olive-green colored. It is considered as a medical plant because it kills the pinworms. Another characteristic is the seed, that opens and is carried by animals in its distribution.

Amongst the aromatic herbs we can distinguish:

  • Lavender à There are two types of lavender, the common and French one. The difference is that French lavender has a more compact flower and the leaf is dentate, whereas the common lavender’s leaf is smooth and has a lanceolate shape. Lavender releases a scent of freshness that helps to breath and is a good substance for saponification; as is known, it is in fact used in most detergent.
  • Rosemary à With its small and sharp/lanceolate leaves that give scents and a sense of freshness to the touch, from Rosemary is produced an essential oil. In the kitchen it is not only used to flavor the food, but also for its digestive properties.
  • Sage à Renamed “Plant of Safety”. In the past, it was used to clean the teeth, not only catching all the food pieces in the teeth with the lower part of the leaf, but also to perfume the breath. Moreover, the sage tisane is helpful in contrasting high cholesterol.
  • Thyme à Roundish leaf. The stem of the plant is delicate and it does not grow much in height. It gives a sense of digestibility. The peculiar feature of this plant is that the flower attracts the bees. Then, the honey produced by the bees will have some properties of the plant, thanks to the expectorant and antiseptic substances contained in it.
  • Laurel oak à Plant with a leathery lanceolate leaf, it has digestive properties although has some pigments that our liver cannot metabolize. So it is necessary to use the right dose of dried leaves, as indeed, when the leaf is green, it has the opposite effect of making you feel stodgy.
  • Wild Rose à Wild plant. The main feature of this plant is the perfumed flowers, although other important characteristics are the presence of iron and vitamin C that stimulate the immune protection.
  • Agaves à The agaves is a plant that grows spontaneously in the land of the Mediterranean area. When the plant is mature makes a beautiful flower and after that it dies. In the ancient times Agave was considered very useful from many points of view: it could replace the rope ( the plant was cut into pieces, pressed and exposed to the sun, then rolled), or, having a very hard fiber, women unraveled it and weaved it for making sacks to put cereals or legumes. The substance of which Agave is made is very stinging, similar to the caustic soda and therefore its released water was also used as bleach.
  • Aloe à there are different types of it: aloe vera, aloe officinalis, spotted aloe etc. Even if it is not typical of the area, it well grows in the Mediterranean area. It is considered a healing plant, because its gel is useful for burnings, acne and psoriasis.

In the Scent Garden, naturalistic activities take place as of the aromatic herbs that are cultivated there, like the laurel oak, sage, myrtle, rosemary, lemongrass, Artemisia and Pantelleria caper bush, whose flowers are considered the “orchid” of this garden.

While in the butterfly Garden the butterflies make their cocoons in the flowers that are cultivated there. These are particular plants whose flowers attract butterflies. For example wild fennel is well-known for attracting the so called San Vito butterfly (yellow and red).


Is there some local and traditional activity did you take the idea from?

Not specifically. Recently some places where young people can go have been created.

In addition to that, there is a field for biodiversity, where there are about 400 ancient fruit trees, that will be used for the project “Fruit in the School”. In fact, these are plants that help to recover fruit that waste in the time. These fruits are proposed again creating a new farm production chain that can be interesting for those who don’t know them.

In the field there are 8 plant species, such as apples, pears, plums, peaches, apricots, figs, cherry trees and citrus trees, and every species is divided has 8 different varieties.

There are also a lot of animal species like the Nebrodi pig, the Girgentana young goat, gooses, little donkeys, rabbits, peacocks, dogs and cats.


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