Ciao from San Gimignano and the final post in my Tuscany Food and Wine series. The train ride from Siena to Poggibonsi station, Piazza Mazzini was delayed but the arranged taxi was waiting for me when I arrived. I had strict instructions from Simona (one of the owners) at Il Borghetto Tuscan Holidays to look for a white car with “written Taxi Roberto” on it. After a short road trip with Roberto I was at the breathtaking villa (recommended by my friend Sue who was arriving from Austria shortly) where we would be staying for the next five days.
After some navigating, I was driven by Alfredo (an Italian Canadian villa guest) to the village of San Gimignano (our rental car was hired for the next day). Groceries and wine were purchased and with perfect timing in the checkout line, I met a very friendly British couple who were on vacation. It was so generous of them to make a detour on their way back to their accommodations and drop me off at the villa. A salad, pasta with salsa al l’aglione and some local artisan cheeses served with Chianti classico was the supper menu. Delicious and fun – cooking what I had learned at Toscana Mia a few days earlier.
The next day was a road trip into Siena. It was worth seeing, however parking was difficult and there were the typical tourist traps. The architecture and fashion were terrific. On my train ride to Florence, I was told by a local businessman that at one time Siena was the economical engine for Tuscany however today it is Florence. If you have time when you’re in Tuscany, I’d recommend visiting Siena for at least half a day.
One afternoon at the villa, Sue and I were relaxing poolside, “Let’s find a restaurant to eat local, authentic Tuscan food this evening.” We asked Simona and Ricardo (the wife and husband owners of the villa) if they could recommend a non tourist restaurant for us to experience. Their recommendation did not disappoint. It was the La Sosta di Pio VII, an ancient farmhouse restaurant in Barberino where legend has it Pope Pius VII stopped for a brief stay on a journey in 1815. The service (only in Italian) and food was delicious. Sue enjoyed the rabbit ragout and I had home raised beef with vegetables. The local red wine capped off the experience.
How lucky was this? Within the same secluded area of the villa was the Pietrafitta Winery. On a sunny afternoon at the villa one of Pietrafitta’s partners, Elio Radocchia (a Canadian) asked if I wanted to come by the next day for a tour of the winery. “Absolutely, what time?” was my response. When I arrived the next day, Elio had a wonderful wine tasting set up with fresh bread, local meat, cheese, olives and olive oil. For good measure and cliché, the very handsome winery partner Pier Paolo Murri made an appearance, along with the wine maker Andrea Valiani.
The property dates back to 961 AD and is rich in history, feuding, plus as the legend goes was mentioned in Dante’s Inferno. After WW2, Pietrafitta was purchased by the noble family of Balbi-Valier. They were expert wine makers and invested heavily in the wine production. In 1966 the Vernaccia di San Gimignano (the most delicious white wine Italy produces) and the Chianti Colli Senesi of the Fattoria di Pietrafitta were the very first wines (both Pietrafitta produced) to get the recognition of D.O.C (Demomination of Controlled Origin). What an unexpected and scrumptious find during my trip!
That wraps my three part Tuscany Food and Wine series. I hope you have enjoyed it as much as I had fun writing it and reliving the fantastic memories of my wonderful culinary adventure.