Archive for May, 2012
For the past four days we’ve been touring French wine regions along with 30 other people from my husband’s company, which serves as the importer for many of the wineries we’ve visited. It’s a fascinating way to travel and I’ve been learning so much about the history and culture of the region. The food and wine have been spectacular, so much so that I have started to crave a plain salad instead of the amazing meals that we’ve been eating.
We did get some exercise today, though, with a cycling and walking tour through the towns and vineyards near Beaune.
It is a very beautiful city, though, full of elegant architecture and glamour. Most of all I am captivated by all the art and museums. We’ll have one more evening in Paris later this week after we surface from wine country – for now a few photos with hope that I’ll keep warming up to the famed city of light with every visit.
It’s difficult to capture the beauty of this place in a photo. Barolo is a famous wine region in Piemonte. We’ve visited many of its towns and villages over the past few days – La Morra, Alba, Asti, Treiso and Barbaresco, to name a few.
Everywhere you go there is a panorama of rolling hills threaded with thousands upon thousands of rows of grape vines and pretty towns at every turn and vista. The churches are particularly beautiful and I am enchanted by the Italians and their quiet but clear love of gardening and flowers – roses, irises, olive trees, and window boxes stuffed with petunias, pansies and geraniums are a constant preoccupation for me and my camera.
The food is wonderful, too, although it is not the easiest place to be a vegetarian – this is a region that loves meat. I’ve only ordered wrong once, but it was really wrong as you’ll see from the beautiful plate of salumi below. The area is packed with Michelin star restaurants – too rich for us, but we’ve heard wonderful things from others. I think I’m happier with the traditional food in the osterias, trattorias and pizzerias, anyway.
Wine rules everything in this place. It is serious business and all the other tourists we’ve met are here for the wine and well versed in the intricacies of the region. I’m trying to keep up…I don’t have the same knowledge base or passion for the ‘big name’ wineries, but my taste buds are definitely enjoying the education.
History is everywhere, but there are modern things, too – shopping and fashion are the most noticeable (and wonderful) and restaurants. You’ll see below my pretty new shoes and a meal from Ora d’Aria, and other pizzerias and bars.
The highlight for me had been the old stuff, though. Florence – Firenze is the birthplace of Renaissance art and today I saw paintings and sculptures I’ve been in love with since my first art history course in university.
Two days is only enough time to get a little taste of Tuscany, but it has been a perfect start to the Italy trip. Our home base has been the Ricasoli guest house at Castello di Brolio, which is a beautiful place to be – full of both solitude and hospitality. From there we’ve toured vineyards, country roads and nearby towns, and spent all the rest of our hours on the classic Italian pastime of eating and then eating some more!
Our hosts are the inventors of Chianti wine, and today we visited their castle, a national monument that dates back to the 12th century. There is nothing like wine to make you appreciate history.
We’ve tasted some wonderful wines, of course. My favorites so far are those made with the Sangiovese grape – the fragrance of it is unmistakable when you hold the wine up to your nose.
We had a lovely lunch at the Osteria del Castello today and the drove about 30 minutes to Siena, which is full of amazing architecture and little streets and piazzas with people, shops and restaurants. The Duomo pictured below was a highlight for me.
Tomorrow I will hope for a sunny day with a bit of time in the morning to enjoy the pool at the guest house, and then it is on to Firenze (Florence) for museums, sculptures and shopping.