Italy  2011

June 12, 2011 Sunday

Today we head to the MONTALBANO: this is a very charming green area whose landscape is dominated by smooth hills covered mostly with olive orchards, grapes and woods. It extends in central Tuscany between the provinces of Florence and Pistoia and it is particularly beautiful also for its tiny medieval villages: the most famous one is VINCI, birthplace of the genius LEONARDO; other villages: Carmignano with its famous wine, Cerreto Guidi with its Medici Renaissance Villa, Comeana with its Etruscan findings, Lamporecchio with its “brigidino” – a typical sweet made of a small crisp wafer, Faltognano with a hundred aged huge oak and much more….

First stop is the TENUTA DI CAPEZZANA:

The estate of Tenuta di Capezzana is located in the small wine growing region of Carmignano. As one travels up a small winding road that leads to the estate, one is surrounded by the breathtaking landscape of silver green olive trees, tall Cyprus and rows of grapevines. The Medici villa that is at the center of Tenuta di Capezzana appears above, graceful and majestic. The estate has an illustrious past, built for one of the Medici daughters as a wedding gift.

Tenuta di Capezzana is a family affair. Count Ugo and Countess Lisa Contini Bonacossi are the owners and three of the children oversee production of the olive oil and wine. A family member even designs the label. Tenuta di Capezzana picks the olives when they are green. This gives the oil the classic Tuscan flavor profile: golden to bright green color, with essence of green grass, green apple, black pepper and a light bitter note on the palate. Tenuta di Capezzana employs the latest techniques in extracting oil from the olive fruit. Olives are crushed within 12-24 hours of picking, which reduces the possibility of oxidation in the picked fruit. Continuous cycle olive processing is the extraction technique of choice. The resulting oil is fresh, with full fruitiness and a bright clean taste. The Tenuta di Capezzana is held in storage vessels to allow the oil to settle before bottling. Capezzana's incredible oil rarely exceeds 0.2% oleic acid, which gives the oil great transparency and intense flavor. Capezzana is not only olive oil: it has also 12 centuries of wine-making history, based on a parchment document dating back to the year 804 stating that Capezzana was rented together with its "vineyards and olive groves". This is one of the oldest existing documents on wine production and testifies 1200 years of wine production at Capezzana, in the Carmignano DOCG area. The Capezzana philosophy is to uphold traditions yet to keep improving. “One must not lose the identity of the wine or the characteristics of its production area… however we believe that we should continue to change for the better”, says Ugo Contini Bonacossi. Today the Count Bonacossi family melds past & present, making wines traditional to the region with modern techniques – using vines grafted from Château Lafite, and blending Cabernet & Sangiovese to create what became known as a Super Tuscan.

Our visit at Capezzana: At 10 a.m. a cooking class in the farm's kitchen with the chef Patrizio who teaches how to prepare Panzanella, a traditional Tuscan salad. At 1 p.m. a typical lunch is served along with a selection of four Capezzana's wines. Everyone took home a wonderful memory of this day with an apron and recipe book!

In the afternoon we reach the small village VINCI and visit the Leonardo da Vinci Museum where an expert Leonardo guide will explain as we go through this Tuscan genius. Located in the medieval Castello Guidi, the Leonardo Museum dominates the small city of Vinci. Did I tell you that the café lattes here in Italy are to die for!

Return to the hotel and rest of the time at leisure. I used this time to run back out to the Tettucci Spa and get some photographs. They were preparing for a wedding reception that evening so things were looking very pretty. There just happened to be a fellow playing music by Andrea Bocelli. I was in heaven and almost tears as it was so beautiful.

Our Farewell 4 course dinner this evening was at the Restaurant Montaccolle on the hills surrounding Montecatini Terme. Fantastic Tuscan cooking and very nice panoramic view! Absolutely delicious…and we even got a chance to see how this resto serves a salad. I think it a very practical idea. All the veggies are cleaned and presented in a bowl and you just help yourself to it. The bowl contains just oil and balsamic vinegar. The young couple were not asked to do the carrot thing…they just loved the fact that we are tourists loved being here with them. A delightful way to end our tour.

A wonderful tour with a great group of old and new friends…. Arrivederci - until next year!



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