Charlotte Tveen Hansen, an ambassador of Italian flavors from Denmark
Charlotte has an open, contagious smile, a firm but gentle look. She loves what he does, and it shows. She loves Italy in an unconditional way, even more than many Italians do, she promotes our products as much as possible by bringing tourists from all over the world to Pavullo. Her name is Charlotte Tveen Hansen, she is Danish, she arrived in Italy when she was 18 years old. And she is the owner of the “Agriturismo Due Papaveri”, nestled in the hills of Benedello.
“I fell in love with an Italian man, from Ravenna – Charlotte tells us – I had met him at the beach, while on vacation. And I moved to Italy for him. My love for him, after a few years, ended, but my love for Italy didn’t, and it’s still going strong. I attended the University in Bologna, I graduated in Economics and I never returned home. I did many jobs: shoe model, interpreter for the Wella hair products company, and also Red Sea diving instructor. In Denmark I go back on average twice a year for the holidays, I also go to search, discover, take inspiration for new things”.
“The farm – she continues – I built it with William, my husband, who unfortunately is no longer with us. We found the right place here in Benedello. It was a little out of the way, the house had been on sale for a long time, obviously it had to be restored”.
And the place is truly fabulous: the courtyard overlooks a wonderful valley. During the summer, guests eat outdoors immersed in the sounds and scents of nature. A timeless place, with attention to the smallest details. In addition to the restaurant, with a fixed menu made with locally grown organic seasonal products, there are four cozy and beautiful rooms. “The people I welcome here are more and more, and of different nationalities: Germans, English, French and think that we recently hosted two people from Hawaii. I take them around to discover our typical products and organize cooking classes for those who want to get closer to Italian flavors (which last five days)”.
In 2007 Charlotte published a book titled “Carlotta Cucina” and it has a clear and explanatory subtitle: “Italian cuisine with a Scandinavian soul”. In 2008 Charlotte also became a TV star in Denmark: “A Danish friend of mine talked about me to a journalist from the Danish national television network. I went to present my book, and to cook. The broadcast was “Good morning Denmark”. After the first time they called me back, and for one year I went there once a month. The funny thing is that I carried a suitcase full of food with me every time. And every time I tried to present different products: Traditional Balsamic Vinegar; Lambrusco, Parmigiano Reggiano.
The eight hectares of land around the Fam House are like a treasure to be discovered, they offer vegetables and products of all kinds: olive trees, saffron, lavender, figs, apples, pears and apricots. Then honey, lavender and chestnut. This year, for the first time, emmer wheat was also planted, with the aim of using it for cooking and making bread. It is also thanks to a solidarity network of small quality local producers who help each other, that I continue to have this passion for my work. You can see the passion in their eyes, no matter what. And it is contagious».
Now Charlotte is helped by her partner Luca, a Canadian of Italian descent, whom she met thanks to WWOOF Italia (Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms). Charlotte in fact offers internships to people who want to learn to become a cook or a waiter or approach the world of organic farms, to understand how it works. “I am writing my second book – she concludes – but my number one commitment is here at the farm. Besides, this is my life, this is my home. And it’s what makes me happy”.
Between the end of June and the beginning of July, lavender is harvested at the “Due Papaveri”, one of the most special products grown on the farm. And Benedello becomes like Provence. An excellent lavender without a doubt, which in 2017 won the Palio dedicated to this product organized by the Municipality of Zocca.
“Every year we harvest about 500 kilos – explains Charlotte – we do it together with our guests, in one morning we finish everything, and we conclude celebrating with a lunch. From the plants I get more or less 7 liters of essential oil which is also used to make soap and shampoo that are used by the guests, and that can be purchased at the farm (which I make with La Saponeria Artigiana di Pavullo). Lavender is also used in the kitchen: in particular for cakes and panna cotta. You have to be very careful with the quantities though, otherwise you risk giving it a taste too strong. Another product derived from lavender is honey. We produce about 60 kilos per year, including the chestnut one. The mixed chestnut and lavender honey is the best one, it has an inimitable and very particular taste; lavender in fact attenuates the bitter taste of the chestnut. It is a unique product. Honey is obviously used for breakfast, but also for other dishes: for example, have you ever tried to cook chicken with honey, Traditional Balsamic Vinegar and hot pepper? Try it and you won’t be able to do without it”.