For the past two decades, Charlotte has sought to create wholly authentic experiences for everyone who visits the Italian fortress. That means collaborating with pecorino cheesemakers who raise sheep that have been pastured in fields on the mountain, breadmakers who grow their own grain and mill their flour via natural water energy, food archaeologists who prepare food in the Etruscan–Roman fashion, and producers who educate on the difference between genuine and fraudulent olive oil. But it also means ensuring that Potentino operates like a 21st-century castle in terms of culture.
From commissioning artists, writers, and musicians to create original works inspired by Potentino’s natural surroundings; to hosting esteemed symposiums on food systems and global political issues; to developing a series of concerts, plays, and documentary screenings showcasing the work of individuals from around the world; Charlotte has prompted a cross-pollination of the arts within the confines of undisturbed acreage. “We’re not old fogies, or some hermits living in a castle,” Charlotte says cheekily. “We get up to quite a lot.”
But aside from establishing award-winning varieties of food, wine, and art, Charlotte has also fostered a community grounded in conviviality, a concept that is increasingly rare in this day and age. At Potentino, everyone eats together, works together, and spends their free time together. “We don’t have a television here, so people sit and talk, play games, and sing together,” Charlotte adds. “It’s interesting how easily people return to that.”
And when it comes to the concerts, the artists in residence, and the rest of the castle’s cultural events, everything is done without monetary exchange—it’s all altruistic in spirit, relying on bartering, donating, and volunteering. “I think this sort of community creates wonderful things,” Charlotte notes. “It sounds very idealist, but I think it actually produces a different quality of work if people aren’t having to think of the lucrative results or do something according to someone else’s formula.”