Puglia’s Green Gold

Day 7:

We begin today’s journey riding bikes along the beautiful Adriatic coast through some of the worlds most ancient and monumental olive groves.

Our first stop is a visit to a local producer of olive oils where we sample “Puglia’s Green Gold“. So called thanks to its golden color and its value ensured sustenance generation after generation. This property has been in the same family since the 9th century, the most antique agricultural arboreal existent landscape. We explore a cave that they uncovered once used in ancient Roman times to extract the oils.

Puglia supplies around 40% of olive oil production in Italy (it is the first region for quantity and quality of Extra Virgin Olive Oil produced per year).The Italian heel also provides around 12% of the olive oil production in the whole world.

After our tasting we hop on our bikes winding through country lanes; and I am in awe of the beauty that I see; getting a different perspective on a bike to view the landscape and smell the fragrances of wildflowers. We stop to taste ripe figs and discover a caper bush. The path we ride on was an ancient Roman passageway and we contine on this path before returning to the coast. After a 20 mile bike ride we are on our own for the rest of the day and enjoy a fresh fish lunch in the fishing village, a gelato of course and meander through Savelletri which is a Province of Brindisi.

Love and Light,

Jeanine on the Scene

Cooking in Chianti

My Tuscany vacation; Italy’s Bella Toscana Active Culinary Adventure by Backroads

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.

After lunch, we hike through the woods and vineyards, a quintessential Tuscan landscape that seems too beautiful to be real.

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