Where to Eat in Italy

PEQ Agri: The Gourmet Hub Revolutionizing Liguria with Its Farm, Winery, and Multi-Starred Kitchen

Marco Colognese
copertina peq agri

Passion, excellence, and quality: In Western Liguria, a project of significant depth blending agriculture and hospitality. Discover how two cousins created their sustainable, multifaceted format.

The story 

The medieval village of Colla Micheri, in Western Liguria on the hills between Laigueglia and Andora along the Via Julia Augusta, was the wonderful retreat of the great ethnographer Thor Heyerdahl. From here, where you can stay in one of the cozy apartments of Casa la Meridiana, the road to one of the key points of the agricultural, wine, and hospitality universe of PEQ Agri is short.

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Just a few minutes by car, or for the more adventurous, just over a quarter of an hour on foot, and you find yourself in front of a breathtaking sea view surrounded by a lush amphitheater of vineyards among the woods. The area in question includes Terrazza Praié, with its casual culinary offerings and summer brunch featuring local products, the Vignamare restaurant housed inside an old cistern, a green and red Michelin star with the remarkable cuisine of the talented Giorgio Servetto, and finally, the Praié winery.

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Here we meet Marco Luzzati. It's not easy to describe what he has achieved with his cousin Giorgio Guastalla, in just a few years, thanks to a personal revolution that saw them settling in Liguria after literally traveling the world as managers and entrepreneurs. Marco says, "In 2019, the summer of madness (laughs, editor's note), I was here in Andora, as I am every year. Our families gather in Andora, by tradition during the summer, for four generations now. Our great-grandfather had the foresight to choose Andora as the preferred location for family gatherings as early as the twenties. We all have a special relationship with this place, cemented by sweet and poignant memories. It's here that all our relatives come together, year after year, and family ties grow deeper and stronger.

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And that's precisely how, as usual, I meet Giorgio and we start talking about this idea and discover that we share the same desire, the same energy, the same passion to create a project, a new model that would put nature, the land and its products, people, and physical and mental well-being at the center.

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We were aware that it wouldn't be an easy journey, quite the opposite. A few days pass, and as if by magic, the opportunity arises that convinces us definitively to embark on this fascinating and emotional journey: the only wine producer in Andora tells us that he is in negotiations to sell his vineyards to foreign entrepreneurs who want to build a resort. We don't think twice and decide to acquire the vineyard and cellar and start shaping the PEQ Agri project.

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So, we leave our jobs and our cities behind and move to Andora. We almost immediately bought an acre of countryside and started producing our vegetables following the rhythm of the seasons and the knowledge of tradition, respectful of nature and its cycles. From there, the drive to open a restaurant to share the fruits of the land with customers who shared our worldview. And so on and so forth--- In four years, we have opened three restaurants, created a farm, a lab for the processing of surplus products, and today we have 70 employees and 200 hectares of land including vineyards, olive groves, vegetable gardens, and orchards."

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The Philosophy and the I LOVE AGRI Project

On the other hand, PEQ stands for 'Passion, Excellence, Quality': spending some time with the two founders makes it clear that this is not just a simple and empty slogan, but rather energy and love for the mission they have set for themselves, as clear-headed and aware entrepreneurs, with the idea of ​​micro-enterprises federated in a virtuous system. It is understood from the fact that the classic paradigm is overturned: it is no longer agriculture that humbly and poorly serves industry and distribution, but Agriculture, with a capital A, on the contrary, plays a central role and dictates timing and methods to all activities functional to its valorization.

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Marco continues: "Both Giorgio and I have worked in the food industry in the past and we realized how distant the end consumer was from agricultural reality, millions of light-years away. That's why we want to convey to our guests and customers a basic concept: those who choose to purchase our products or taste them at our restaurants are aware of making a very important contribution to the realization of a virtuous project and mechanism for the community."

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Thus, an expression like 'promoting the territory', heard hundreds of times in other contexts, in this case, materializes into action, with the idea of modernizing the traditional farm, using its products and transforming them when in excess to waste nothing and optimize. Hence a project like I LOVE AGRI, an innovative development model of an 'extended' agricultural company that involves investments in renewable energies, the recovery of abandoned agricultural land (most of the cultivated land comes from the recovery of uncultivated and abandoned areas to degradation), natural farming techniques, a zero waste policy, and work tools that allow supporting more than fifty families, giving young people the opportunity to not leave the Ligurian Riviera and have a dignified, stable, and well-paying job. A reclamation path involves the restoration of ancient, characteristic stone walls and the regulation of water in the Andora valley.

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From wineries to livestock farms, an ambitious project in the making

Since the beginning of its operation, the wineries grouped by PEQ Agri, which deserve a separate story, derive from acquisitions of three qualitatively important and well-distinct brands (Lupi, Praié, and Guglierame), from different areas such as Andora, Albenga, Imperia, and Savona. Each of them owns historic vineyards and native grape varieties such as Pigato, Vermentino, Granaccia, Rossese, Ormeasco di Pornassio, and Lumassina. Berry&Berry, on the other hand, is the result of collaboration with the in-house winemaker and his family vineyards.

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It goes without saying that the company and its restaurants source their needs from their own supply chain, including everything related to animals, with the aim of raising them semi-wild. In PEQ Agri, you can find Briga chickens, rabbits, goats, and sheep that give rise, with meat and milk, to cured meats and cheeses, in addition to bees that produce exquisite honey; there is also excellent extra virgin olive oil from over 15 hectares of olive groves.

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Everything can be purchased in the retail outlets, as well as enjoyed at Terrazza Praié and Vignamare and at the Agriturismo PEQ Agri Resort in Tovo San Giacomo, in the hinterland of Pietra Ligure, an oasis of peace immersed in nature. To use every material to the fullest, the company has also created a line of cosmetics based on agricultural products: extra virgin olive oil, Granaccia Sciurbì, and lavender are indeed the main ingredients of fragrant body soaps.

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The nature of PEQ Agri is extremely dynamic, and Luzzati and Guastalla have several interesting new projects in the pipeline, including a new, beautiful hospitality project. But we'll have the opportunity to talk about it again...


PEQ Agri

Via Terra Molino, 25, 17020 Tovo San Giacomo SV

Phone: 331 388 7203


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