I am on the train to Arrezo at 6 am passing through fields of yellow hay cut on the ground ready for bailing and row crops which look like tomatoes. We go through dark tunnels and then back out to the sunshine and the greenery. Red poppys line the tracks as we go through many towns and stops along the route.
The train arrives at 8:43 where I meet several of the people on the tour and am greeted by my backroads tour guide Michael; we will meet Guilia once we arrive.
We head towards the town of Castellina in Chianti, a fortified hamlet with commanding views of the Pesa, Arbia and Elsa River Valleys. Castellina served as a Florentine army outpost until the fall of Siena in 1555, and its military past can be seen in its old ramparts and arcaded walkway, Via delle Volte.
We begin along pedestrian walkways, forested paths and strade bianche (gravel roads) en route to Radda in Chianti.
Along the way, we stop by a family-owned farmhouse-turned-villa for a visit with their friend Roberta and Marco who is the expert on olive oils. We do a blind tasting. First using our smell to see what fruits or vegetables we smell, next is a taste where we swirl in our mouth and swish around almost like wine before swallowing. The pepper taste hits our throats and makes us cough a little, which is said to be the best olive oil. This is our first taste of Tuscan hospitality, olive oil that’s produced right on the property! Next we’re treated to an alfresco pranzo (lunch) buffet hosted by Roberta’s brother, Giovanni.
Our destination is the charming Il Borgo di Vèscine, offering striking views of the surrounding Chianti Valley.
After a short rest we then head to Tutti a Tavola, a cooking school operated by four Tuscan women who share a deep passion for cooking and their homeland. Here we’re welcomed into the heart of the home, the cucina (kitchen), to learn how Tuscans cook on a daily basis. It’s a marvelous evening with great food and wonderful company. Mimme, Lele, Ellissa, and Franca show us the ropes and I even get in on the action making the gelato for the evening dessert. A delicious meal is prepared starting with spaghetti, a delicious frittata, followed by chicken cacciatore and gelato for dessert.
What a great first day. Blessed in so many ways. Until tommorrow, arrivederci!
Hiking today: 4.2 miles
Love and Light,
Jeanine on the Scene