Stings speaks of life as Tuscan 'farmer'
Rock star Sting has spoken for the first time about his life as a farmer on the large Tuscan estate where he has spent much of the last 15 years.
The former Police frontman, 58, produces extravirgin olive oil, chestnut and acacia honey, jams, fruit, vegetables and salami on his 300-hectare estate near Figline Valdarno, 30 km south of Florence.
''I am a farmer who looks after the land to nourish it and not to plunder it,'' he told an audience at the town theatre that included Tuscany Governor Claudio Martini on Tuesday evening, explaining why his business is 100% organic.
''I came here and I decided to stay and be a farmer, also because I wanted to nourish my family with genuine quality products in a healthy environment.
''Everyone knows about my environmental commitment, especially to the rain forests in South America. With this business in Tuscany I am trying to help myself and those who are close to me to live better in a natural context,'' he said.
In September, Sting will present his first-ever red wines - a Chianti and a Toscana made largely from Sangiovese grapes grown on the estate.
The 2007 vintage wine has been resting for two years and 30,000 bottles will be ready this year.
Currently, Sting sells most of the products grown on his Tenuta Il Palagio estate in England but has plans to open a shop on the property in the next few months.
Sting, his wife Trudie Styler, six kids, a dog and a horse spend much of their time in Tuscany, where the estate includes a large villa with a swimming pool, a wood with six small lakes, vineyards, olive groves and an old barn converted into a recording studio.
The musician also keeps a small private plane parked at a Florence airport.
''Since January I've been around the world one and a half times,'' Sting said.
''Yesterday when I landed in Florence, I gave a sigh of relief. I'm home, I said to myself. I love this place because nature offers cues for reflection and animates my artistic inspiration''.
The rock star said his love for the local landscape resulted in him falling off his mountain bike and breaking a thumb after he lost concentration while gazing at the scenery.
''Fortunately I can still play but I don't ride my bicycle any more,'' said the singer, who told the audience his favourite local dish was stewed wild boar.
Figline Valdarno Mayor Riccardo Nocentini said Sting's business, which employs 15 permanent staff as well as seasonal workers, was more than just an ''honoured guest'' in the town.
''Sting has lived in our area for many years, but now it's clear that he is not just an honoured guest but also, and above all, a producer who will be even more active in the future,'' Nocentini said.
At the end of the star's talk, Sting said ''wow'' as a local farmer presented him with a chest full of bean, chickpea, parsley and black cabbage seedlings.
The star bought his first slice of land in Tuscany at the end of the 1990s for 3.5 million euros before snapping up a further 200 hectares for 5.75 million euros in 2002.
A number of foreign personalities from the worlds of business and entertainment already make wine in Italy.
Time-Warner CEO Richard Parsons has a vineyard in Montalcino where he produces an excellent Brunello, mostly for his own use.
Musicians Mick Hucknall of Simply Red and Jim Kerr of Simple Minds both have vineyards on Sicily, while French actress Carole Bouquet has a vineyard on the island of Pantelleria where she produces the island's famous dessert wine 'passito'.