Wednesday, July 20, 2011

En Vacanes: Tuscany

After a week basking in the suns of two Greek islands, we carefully rerolled our clothes into compact carry-ons and flew to Rome via Athens.  Seven days of olives and feta, carafes of dry white wine, and mismarked Greek road signs, left us with tanned skinned and a craving for vegetables.  From bustling Rome we took the fast train 170 miles north to the arts capital Florence, met my in-laws, rented a car and drove to Montestigliano, a Central Tuscan 2000-acre olive farm nestled in the hills just 20 km southwest of Siena.  

De Vecchi family crest, 18th century owners of Montestigliano

One of the 18th century farmhouses, Casa Massimo, would be our cozy home for the next five nights.  The first day we shopped the local markets, filling our carts to the brim with ripe, colorful produce and fresh pastas, planning a four-course Italian feast as we wove through each aisle.  The days would be filled with hikes in the shade oft cypress-lined paths on the farm, day trips to ancient, terracotta-roof hilltowns, paging through novels by the pool, and slipping into a lifestyle of blissful sensory experiences.

Below are a series of pictures from our time in the picturesque Italian countryside where we lived "under the Tuscan sun."

Montestigliano's main house that belongs to the Donati family, 
the farm's owners since 1950

terra cotta pots lining the property's old stone wall are warmed
in the morning sun

17th century stables of Montestigliano, now transformed to 
comfortable 5-room villas

cypress-lined roads throughout the farm made for idyllic walking trails

butterfly and thistle; simplistic natural beauty found on our walks

Villa Pipistrelli, a 17th century stable on the Montestigliano farm, 
that has been transformed into a luxury villa 

quintessential Tuscan style: rustic wood and cheerful accents

reclaimed limestone from 300 years ago becomes a deep sink for outdoor entertaining 

Villa Pipistrelli's infinity pool

view of Siena in the distance from Montestigliano

Tuscan vistas from Montestigliano; on our last night in Tuscany
we enjoyed a sunset and a local pinot grigio from these four seats

the fireplace and hearth was restored in 18th century style 
in our living room at Casa Massimo

Casa Massimo kitchen

Casa Massimo living room

my antipasta creation: melon and proscuitto, 
caprese and white bean bruscetta

our Tuscan table at Casa Massimo, ready to receive dinner guests

fresh tagliatelle with pesto and argula and caper stuffed 
orato (sea bass),bon appetito!

the hilltown of Montalchino known for its bold Brunellos

Tuscan ceramics in Montalchino

Taverna at Fattoria dei Barbi where we enjoyed 
a delicious, leisurely four-course lunch

polpi bruscetta

braised pork in Brunello sauce

dolci: "carrot cake" and chocolate gelato

frothy cappuccinos punctuated most meals

Fattoria dei Barbi sangiovese vineyards

award-winning brunellos stand at attention within the Barbi cellar

our last meal in Tuscany was a family-style feast
for all the guests at Montestigliano

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