This weekend, we had to escape the city, our routine, and ourselves. It was time. We needed nature, animals—stuff that has nothing to do with our M-F everyday fare. And we found it, at the Fattoria Pasqué outside Varese, an easy 45 minutes from Milan. This is just one of many places along the lines of an agriturismo not far from the metropolis, where you can take city-weary kids to working agricultural establishments, and let them be one with farm animals of every description. But it’s not just the children who are healed by such outings. My first glance at the baby goats was as good as a Xanax.
Being in the presence of animal nature and animal intelligence is a great way to shake off the rather meaningless ambitions that accumulate in my mind over time. Watching the cows chew their hay or the free-range chickens scratch out a hollow in which to lay an egg calms the nerves. Even the smell of animals is sweet to my nostrils. I like being with them. I like, too, what happens to my children when they are surrounded by chickens and geese, pigs and sheep. They seem happy in a pure, uncomplicated way that has nothing to do with being entertained or having “fun”—as if they, too, are returning to their natural state. They run. They serenade peacocks. They whisper sweet nothings in the donkey’s ears. They glow with exertion, and work up healthy appetites for hearty food.
And hearty food is in abundance here, served simply in a no-frills restaurant featuring the products of the farm. I’ll remember the ice cream that topped off my meal best, though— just the cold, creamy essence of milk. Fresh, simple, good. But then again, that is how I would describe the whole experience. At one point during lunch, I asked my husband, “Do you think this all tastes so good because we’re here at the farm? Or would this taste amazing anywhere?” He didn’t know. It was impossible to unravel the “delicious” from the “happy.” And, honestly, who would want to?