A Travellerspoint blog

October 1st

Vendemmia preperation and Arezzo

sunny 27 °C

Today Stephanie and John pulled out the grape press which had been in the cellar for the whole year and was rusting and moldy. They sanded back the timber, wire brushed the rusty steel parts and applied a coat of pharmasutical oil. I worked on the retaining wall for a couple of hours and then started using the wire wheel on the bench grinder to remove the rust from the hinge pins and some other small parts. We also pulled the destemmer out and pulled it apart. It hadn`t been cleaned properly last year so there was dried grape pieces everywhere and loads of rust. We began by pulling it appart and wire brushing all the metal parts and using the wire brush on the bench grinder to clean the smaller parts. In the evening Ugo sugusted we should head to Arezzo on Sunday to check out the markets. As he was leaving on Saturday he decided to drive us there so we could write down the directions and learn where to park etc. Ugo, Larry, Stephanie and I hit the road at about 6pm. Along the way Stephanie and I wrote down the directions. We arrived with plenty of sunlight to spare. Ugo took us for a wander around the city shopping district and a couple of the churches.
The vendors were already moving their wares into place for the weekends antique markets. Larry, Stephanie, and I purchased a slice of pizza and we headed back to the car. When we got to the car Ugo realised that he had left his umbrella somewhere so Stephanie and I headed back to see if we could locate it. After a thorough search we concluded that it was gone for ever and headed back to give Ugo the bad news. By this time it was dark so we hit the road again with home and a late dinner in mind. As we went Ugo pointed out every petrol station as a landmark and flicked on and off the high beam more times then I care to remember. Ugo is a typical italian who tends to use his horn to let people know he is coming, to say hi, when he is angry and sometimes for no reason at all. Along the way Ugo decided that we should stop by Cortona for a quick look see. Cortona looked pretty awesome by night and when we had driven to the top of the hill the view over the valley of twinkling lights was beautiful. We had a quick look around but everything was pretty much closed so we headed on our way again with a real hunger brewing. We arrived home at about 10pm and began making dinner.

Posted by classique 11:52 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

September 24th - September 30th


semi-overcast 25 °C

Over the next week or so we concentranted on getting a few more tasks completed. Larry, Stephanie, John and I focused on triming all the suckers from the olive trees for several days. Suckers are stems that grow from the bottom and trunk of the tree. They also grow from the inside of the main branches and are generally found growing straight up from the bushy branches. They clutter the tree and dont give any fruit so we chop them off to give more energy to the olives, to provide more light all round to the tree and to stop the tree from becoming completely wild. Some of the older trees, which would be several hundred years old, took upwards of half an hour each to prune. I also spent a lot of time mowing the Vinyard and new olive grove. Once these tasks were completed Larry and I finished back filling the retaining wall and begun to level a new trench down the side of the cellar. In years past the cellar has flooded with water after big rain falls. By digging the trench down the side of the house/cellar down to the concrete pathway and evntually concreting a pathway above the cellar we hope to stop the flooding once and for all! Over this period we made another batch of pici and many homemade pizzas, including one with fresh figs from the tree out back. This was a clever conception of Stephanie and Larry`s which turned out really nicely! Finally Ugo returned and we headed out with him that night to watch a soccer game in Pienza.

On Monday afternoon of the 27th of September Ugo took us to Lucignano to have a wander around the town and have an expresso/cafe latte. Here is a great shot of a bike I saw there and a couple of others.
As the week moved along we went through all the vendemmia (grape harvest) equipment and pulled it all out. We filled buckets with hot water and caustic soda and washed out the big plastic fermentataion tub and stainless steel tanks. After washing them with soda we rinsed them several times and dried them out.

Posted by classique 04:55 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

September 23rd

Montepulciano day trip

sunny 23 °C

Today Larry, Stephanie and I headed to Montepulciano to check out the markets and wander around the town. We headed straight for the Montepulciano Church of Madonna di San Biagio which is pretty awesome especially from the outside. It looks from the outside as though there should be at least two levels inside, but there isn't. There was already a bus load of tourists walking around it when we arrived.
After a wander around and throught the church we headed off to the markets. We found an awesome parking spot which turned out to be in an all day parking area, which is generally pretty hard to find, and climbed our way to the markets. After looking at all that was on offer and trying on a cool jacket, we purchased some veges, chingali (spicy wild boar sausage), mozzerella, and marinated olives before heading to another vender to buy some porchetta panini's. On our way to get the porchetta panini's, I spotted a vendor selling roasted pigeons so I stopped and bought one. After purchasing the porchetta panini's we head accross the road to a gorgeous park to devour our feast. The pigeon, suprise suprise, tasted like very salty chicken. It was definitely over salted by the vendor. The porchetta panini's were delicious!
After dropping off the veges etc in the car, we made our way to the main shopping street of Montepulciano which steadily climbs to the top of a very high hill... like most Italian towns.
On our way up we popped into another church, and stopped to watch a mechanical man hit a bell with a hammer to say it was midday. We stopped at a gelateria and the three of us purchased gelato. Once I had exited the shop and taken my first lick of my first gelato in Italy I found to my suprise that I had mistakenly chosen the only flavor in the shop which was not gelato but frozen yogurt. We continued our slow ascent and popped in at some very cool shops including one which sold solid copper pots and pans, one which sold hand made shoes which cost up to 900 euro for one pair, and this one where the guy was making mosaic pictures.

We arrived at Gettavichi cellars and I took Larry & Stephanie for a walk through the cellar and the down into the depths of the old Utruscan tomb.
As everything was beginning to close for the afternoon seista, we decided to head down and find a place for lunch. We stopped off at a restaurant and had a pizza and some sweets. As we were sitting there a guy came out with a bottle of champagne and a sword. He walked up to the table next to us, raised the sword, cut the top of the bottle off and poured champagne into their glasses. The preesure of the bottle blows the top straight off and gennerally the bottle breaks cleanly so you dont have to worry about splinters.
After lunch we headed up to the Piazza at the top of Montepulciano. On the way we stoppe doff at another winery which had a massive cellar, an old underground prison and a great tasting room. After a few tastings we continued up to the piazza. One of the buildings surrounding the piazza was apparently used in one of the lastet twilight movies. We entered this building, climbed the steps to the second level, paid out 2 euros and went up onto the the roof.
We descended again back down to the car and headed for home. Tonight we had decided to return the favor and have John over for a curry. We ended up making curried chicken with rice and red wine. Not exactly a true Indian dinner but still very enjoyable. Once dinner was completed, the dishes done and put away, we brought out RISK which is a german board game and played until the wee hours of the morning.

Posted by classique 00:37 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

September 20th - 22nd

Thinning vines and poor ol Billy


On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, Stephanie, Larry, John and I worked roughly about 7 hours a day thinning the leaves on the vines especially where they covered the grape clusters. The idea is that more sunlight will hit the grapes in the last weeks causing them to ripen quicker and produce more sugar. With only so many leaves left on each vine, more energy is directed to the grape and therefore you get a sweeter better flavor of sangiovese and malvasia grape. We also thinned the grape clusters down as many had mildew through them, and some vines had so many clusters that there was no way they would all ripen in time. After 3 full days of thinning we finally finished both the new and old vineyard.
Sadly, poor old Billy who was a fantastic old sheep dog X Labrador went missing on Tuesday evening. We had a feeling he was preparing to die and after a long search on Wednesday afternoon we finally found him, on the old roman road, dead. We all headed back up to the house and dug a grave in the pre chosen spot, went down and picked him up with the tractor and laid him to his final rest. It was quite a sobering moment because both John and I had become quite attached to him. He was a faithful work dog who would follow us where ever we went for work or walks and guarded the vineyard from dear even up to his very last moment!

Posted by classique 10:37 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

September 15th - 19th

Arrivals and departures.

all seasons in one day 27 °C

On Thursday afternoon i took the 4wd into Sinalunga to pick up an American couple from the train station. They were coming for 3 weeks to stay with Ugo and Barbara. I met them as they hopped off the train and headed back home to Ugo and Barbara's. We had a lovely dinner and John and I showed them around the house, how the bathroom and toilet works and were the working clothes were etc. (John is a friend of Ugo and Barbara's who came over in May of this year, worked for and with them, and then got an apartment in a town close by and worked at the neighbors vineyard)
On Friday afternoon Barbara took me through how the caterpillar style tractor and mower works and I spent a couple of hours mowing one of the many fields. Early on Saturday I took Barbara to Chuisi where we had a Cafe Late. I carried her bags to the platform and bid her farewell. I was now in charge of running the property and all that went with it. I headed back, had some breakfast with Larry and Stephanie and headed out on the "ride on mower" for several hours.
In the afternoon Larry, Stephanie and I headed into Montisi to have a look around. Not long after we arrived a thunderstorm blew in and unleashed itself. We ran through the streets, trying to stay close to the walls in an endeavor to keep dry and eventually made it to a local where we had a beer. On Sunday night we headed over to Johns place for dinner which turned into a feast. We started with chingali, cheeses, wine, pici, wine, chicken, and a whole pile more food and a little more wine. We finished with Vinsanto and Cantucci.

Posted by classique 07:07 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

(Entries 16 - 20 of 118) « Page 1 2 3 [4] 5 6 7 8 9 10 .. »