Montefioralle and Cantine Aperte 2011

What a glorious Sunday we had! ūüôā

Yesterday, before meeting up with our friends, one of whom was playing all day with his jazz band at a winery (see previous post), Stefano and I stopped at Montefioralle, a 12th century fortified hilltop village not too far from Greve in Chianti (=less than an hour’s drive from where we live in Florence).

Pretty little village, for sure, but¬†Stefano and I¬†kept looking for a central piazza (square)…to no avail. “There just has to be one,”¬†I insisted. We walked around the village twice, just to make sure we hadn’t missed it…But no, we came up empty handed. How very odd. Hmmm. Anyway, my first two photos are shots of central-square-less Montefioralle… ūüôā

Next stop: Villa Cafaggio, with its 45 hectares of vineyards, see photos below. This is where our friend was playing, incidentally (see my next-to-last photo). Anyway, according to the Villa’s website, Villa Cafaggio or Cafaggiolo belonged to Benedictine monks in the 15th century. One of¬†its most enjoyable features, IMO, was its position–on top of a small hill, surrounded by hills, vineyards, cypress trees and farmhouses.¬†An absolutely lovely area, as you can see, sort of,¬†from my photos…

We toured the villa’s wine cellars, of course, which were quite modern. No traditional “pressing the grapes with your feet” in this establishment!¬†But, hey, modern techniques have their advantages…HYGIENE, for one! ūüėČ

After enjoying a guided tour of the villa’s cellars and taking some photos of¬†the view of and from its vineyards, we sat down on the villa’s terrace for the official wine tasting, which is always accompanied by an explanation (which type of grapes are used in which wine¬†and so on)…This experience was enhanced by live jazz music in the background.¬†ūüôā

We were each given a plate with slices of ham, salami, Pecorino (=sheep) cheese and finocchiona, which is salami flavored with fennel seeds. Quick aside: as I was attempting (in vain) to find a translation for finocchiona, I¬†came upon¬†a¬†tale that I thought I’d share with you:

Finocchiona supposedly owes its origins to a thief at a fair near the town of Prato, who stole a fresh salami and hid it in a stand of wild fennel. When he returned for it he discovered it had absorbed the aromas of its hiding place and had become fit for the Gods.

Cute!

Well, I don’t care much for¬†the taste of salame or finocchiona, which I¬†handed over¬†to Stefano (who was more than happy to, ehm,¬†oblige…), but I did very much enjoy the Pecorino cheese, and the wine was verrrry nice, too,¬†especially the 2007 riserva, i.e. the 2007 vintage…

We were given generous “sips” (see last photo, that’s my glass of wine, btw) of four different types of wine. Since I don’t usually drink anything but water, by the fourth taste I was quite, er, happy, shall we say…So I must say, it’s a good thing there was some FOOD and water on the table, too! ūüėČ

Just as we were finishing our “tasting” and were thinking¬†of moving on,¬†a blog reader who lives in Florence and who has become a friend of mine¬†walked out onto the terrace¬†together with her partner. What a splenddddid surprise!¬†So¬†we stayed on a bit longer, waiting for them to have their tasting and visit the cellars. We sat and chatted and listened to some more music…Then,¬†before leaving,¬†we bought some¬†riserva wine to share with my parents when they arrive here in July…

Well, as it happened, we had a petit Tuscan adventure. After Villa Cafaggio, we’d originally intended to go¬†check out¬†the Castello da Verrazzano, another well-known winery in the area. So Stefano¬†entered the castle’s¬†address into his GPS system, and off we went. My blog reader and her partner followed us in their car…

At one point the GPS decided to go bonkers (intoxicated by all those vineyards, perhaps???)…All of a sudden, you see,¬†we took a turn and found ourselves trundling down a tiny, very dusty and¬†very bumpy country lane that seemed to¬†lead nowhere. On and on we went. Nobody in sight…not even a dog. Just a few lizards…And typical Tuscan vineyards and hills and dust all around us…The views were very pretty, mind you…but…

We soon realized that the GPS had made a mistake, but there was no way we could turn around and retrace our “steps”…So on and on we went. I began stifling a chuckle, then I couldn’t stand it anymore and burst into peals of laughter.¬†Within seconds, even though he was a bit¬†concerned about¬†his car getting scratched and bruised¬†by brambles and stones,¬†Stefano joined in. So we howled and howled and howled.¬†And what made it even funnier was the fact that my blog reader and her partner were still faithfully following us…probably wondering if we’d lost our minds…Bumpety haha bump, hahaha! ūüôā

We finally managed to get back onto an¬†asphalted road and head off in the right direction, which (for your information…) meant retracing our steps entirely and passing by the Villa Cafaggio…again. Ehm. By then it was mid afternoon, so¬†the four of us¬†stopped at the first winery we saw, which¬†happened to be¬†the Castello di Uzzano. After all that bumping around and all that laughing, we needed a rest¬†AND something else to eat…And, why not?, we also tried some of their riserva wine…

Anyway, if you are in Italy on the last Sunday in May, don’t miss Cantine Aperte. It’s a GREAT experience, especially if your GPS misbehaves hehe…and a very tasteful one, too! ūüôā Oh, and I should note that many, perhaps most,¬†of these wine-tasting events are free. Yes, free.

And if that¬†isn’t incentive¬†enough…well, Tuscany is one of the most beautiful places on Earth!, especially at this time of year…April-May… ūüôā

1 Comment

  1. Sounds like a glorious, hilarious time! I so want to go to Tuscany: my dream vacation. Unfortunately I need to get my mobility back first. Enjoy it for me!

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