My heart is happy as I write from 30,000 feet up. Joey remains in Rome for another week of exploring. (Look for his posts as he searches out authentic foodie Rome. I am confident that he will leave no (ancient) stone unturned!) I, on the other hand, am homeward bound with a big smile on my heart.
Wow – what a week! I have so many memories from our incredible, wildly fun week in Montalcino:
-Cooking an Italian-American dinner for 50 Montalcinese (complete details in my next post!)
-Wheeling grocery carts through the cobblestone streets of the medieval village
-‘Celebrity master chef’’ sightings
-Spritzes in the piazza.
My mind is simply spinning with the experience of it all. This past week reminded me why my passion for Italy runs so very, very deep – the warmth of friendships and family, old and new, forged through Italian roots planted so many generations ago all set amongst a way of life that wraps my soul like a warm hug.
Before we headed out, I wrote a post about Montalcino and my affiliation with Quartiere Pianello (see that post here). Each quartiere has a governing body and the President of Pianello is Francesco Ripaccioli. At our dinner, Francesco presented us with Pianello aprons, T-shirts and official membership cards. His heartfelt gratitude for our efforts left us all a bit teary eyed. Francesco warmly invited us to visit his vineyard that sits on the northern slopes of Montalcino, Canalicchio de Sopra.
We headed over to the vineyard as the day threatened rain. You could see the waves of rain streaming out across the valley. Francesco graciously gave us a tour of his cellar and property. He explained a bit about his family’s long history in Montalcino and how his grandfather was one of the four founders of this ancient wine. We toured their beautiful new hotel (Borgo Canalicchio de Sopra) overlooking the slopes of vines. Then we were off to the tasting room. The views over the vineyard simply go on forever. And if that is not enough to get you up every morning to go to ‘work’, their wine certainly is. Both their Brunello di Montalcino and Rosso di Montalcino are stunning. Cases are winging their way to our homes as I type. We graciously thanked Francesco for the time spent amid promises to visit when in the US. Another reminder of new friendships forged through roots planted so very long ago.
At lunch, we watched as the storm rolled in across the valley. Thunder and lightening streaked and bounced all around. We had a ringside seat perched in the glass walled dining room at Boccon di Vino, one of Montalcino’s best-loved restaurants. Torrential sheets of rain streamed down outside as we settled in for a long lunch to let the ‘tempesta’ past. Lights flickered, water ran everywhere outside but we were nestled in our little cocoon, safe with our glasses of Brunello to warm our hearts.
And as the storm finally cleared, blue skies rolled in behind. Mist rose all around the hills and the most beautiful rainbow appeared out over the valley. Yet another symbol for me as to of how grateful and blessed we were to be part of this amazing adventure in my beloved Montalcino.
Isabella – a heartfelt thank you for dreaming up the fun idea of this dinner and for pulling this incredible week together.
Francesco – a heartfelt thank you for allowing us to be ‘celebrity master chefs’ for a day in your Quartiere and for welcoming us into the arms of Pianello.
One day soon, may we be sitting in that garden raising a glass of Brunello. A warm saluti from us all, my friends!
Un grande abbraccio, xoxo Michele