La Fattoria Il Pulcino is the result of the enormous vision of a little man named Sergio Ercolani, a Montepulciano native, who is small in stature only. Together with his wife, Gabriella, they have worked for more than fifty years nurturing a small dream that has grown into a vast operation, now carried out together with their six children and involving more and more, their 18 grandchildren as they grow to adulthood. Sergio’s childhood nickname, Il Pulcino, means “small chick” but there is nothing small about Sergio’s accomplishments.
Signor Ercolano met his wife, Gabriella, when she came to Montepulciano from her hometown in Chianti to claim a prize for her award-winning entry in an embroidery competition. They married a year later and began stitching together their dreams, an undertaking that has turned into rich tapestry of agricultural endeavors that include the production of their own olive oil, wines, salumi and prosciutto, marmalades and jams, homemade baked goods and a very successful restaurant.
The seed that grew into such a vast operation was sown very early on, when Sergio purchased an old abandoned friary that lay in ruin, committing himself to the task of bringing the building and the cultivation of the land back to life. Along with this plan, was his wish to create a place where tourists could come and sample the wholesome products of the rich farmlands of Montepulciano, an idea that was very new to the region. Little by little, while raising their family of six children, Sergio and Gabriella purchased more and more land, ever increasing their opportunities for agricultural and eventually commercial growth. Theirs is a rich harvest.
What made our visit to this Fattoria so interesting was the time we spent with Cecilia, Sergio’s daughter who sees to the running of the store and restaurant, greeting guests personally and taking the time to show off the underground cantinas where the wine ages and the prosciuttos (over 300 in all) are stored.
Today, the restaurant can seat up to 200 guests, and there is additional seating on the terrace where endless views of the countryside please the soul. Meals are all prepared with fresh ingredients, products grown on their land and prepared simply, using Pulcino olive oil and fresh herbs grown in huge terracotta pots in an adjacent garden. Our meal was superb. When has a simple bruschetta with tomatoes ever tasted so good? Was it the crusty bread or the tang of the golden olive oil? Or the tomatoes grown to maturity beneath the Tuscan sun? Perhaps all of the above. Our filet of vitello, grilled on an open pit, was the most tender we have ever eaten. The family’s homemade cantucci and vin santo were the crowning touches. Well, no, meeting Cecilia and her mother was the real highlight of our visit.