By Ilona Kauremszky

Q: I read about the Ragiones in a magazine. Now still months after the article and many attempts on the Internet I cannot find a way to contact them.

A: Isabella and Livio Dalla Ragione have been planting ancient trees in San Lorenzo di Lerchi Umbria for years. Isabella, a known agronomist in Perugia has made a fine art of what she calls archeologia arborea as she calls her vocation. It’s the search and cultivation of old varieties of fruit. Where does she get her clues? From old paintings by the Great Masters.

Using old fashioned detective work, she was able to piece together details on an old pear tree. These pear varietals can live for more than 250 years while olive trees can live even longer.

If you visit the Dalla Ragione’s orchard, you’ll see it’s an open-air museum of Old World fruit. Started 40 years ago by Livio, Isabella’s father, the trees grow on a hilltop in San Lorenzo di Lerchi, a hamlet about 112 km southeast of Florence.

Over 400 trees make up the collection of pears, apples, plums, quinces, medlars, cherries and peaches. Isabella says most were common in the Umbria region 60 years ago but today many of the varieties have disappeared. You can visit the orchard by appointment April through October. For a one-time fee of a minimum of 150 Euros, you can adopt a tree when you join their association. Members also receive a diploma for “the adopt a tree” program.

In addition, The Dalla Ragione’s have a charming medieval guest house available at reasonable rates. Called La Casina Degli Sposi, or "The Little House of Marriage" the two floor guesthouse has a kitchen, one bedroom and bathroom on the ground floor and two bedrooms and one bathroom on the first floor.

For more details on the rental and for guesthouse reservations email and for directions, log onto


dispatches | q&a | photos | fork | newsletter | archives | links | search | store | submissions | about | contact | home

All text & photos © 2002-07