Letter From an Italian Honeymoon
Having been my bridesmaid you are the one who is going to receive my first letter from our honeymoon.
Paul had prepared our destination as a special surprise … and it was an original one! Not Niagara Falls, not an island in the Pacific, not Pareee … but a quiet beautiful week in a place in central Italy named Chianti … yes the region where they make a wonderful wine I drank several times when Paul was taking me out to dinner! I just hope we will keep doing that!
We landed in the evening of Sunday in the small Florence airport and in a jiffy rented a small trendy Fiat cinquecento car that we drove due south, first through a highway and a few miles after through smaller roads which became- as miles clicked by- surrounded by plush forest, hillier and somewhat meandering roads. As the roads rose in the hills a landscape of hills covered by vines and olive trees appeared in the dusk and we could admire a beautiful sunset.
We went through a small village named Panzano and the signs of Villa le Barone appeared that brought us through a gate to a magical greenery surrounded old manor all lit up in the night. After a quick check in and a tasty welcome drink we found ourselves in the restaurant of the hotel where an unbelievable antipasto self service buffet and luscious three course dinner (pasta was awesome!) was served to us. Our room was very cozy, with freshly cut flowers to greet us together with a cold bottle of Prosecco … which we kept for later.
The morning after we were somewhat tired, had a late breakfast and decided to discover the place. In spite of the fresh September the sun was shining and we had breakfast on the terrace while looking at maps and at the very complete information that was in our welcome package. Plenty to do, but the jet lag told us to take it easy, so we went to the gardens where dahlias and roses were thriving among olive trees, discovered the tennis court facing the most beautiful landscape (decided for a game in the afternoon), ignored the small but pleasant work-out room and went to the attractive pool where we sat on pleasant outdoor lounge chairs facing the hills and the San Leolino abbey just a mile away. After a nap, a dip in the pool, a drink from the pool honor bar we were ready for a pizza and salad quick lunch at the hotel while quietly planning the next days. A couple of tennis sets, a shower, a walk to the small town of Panzano (a shoemaker there makes beautiful handmade shoes to fit) and we were ready to dine in a small and quaint restaurant before getting back to the Hotel.
Monday morning we were on our toes at 8:30 for breakfast and left for a day in Siena (25 miles away) shortly visiting a small medieval town (Castellina in Chianti). Siena is a pedestrian city so we left the car in a parking lot on the outskirts and after a pleasant 15 minutes walk we were in the beautiful Piazza del Campo where twice a year, since te middle ages, there is a crazy horse race ( the Palio https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3_yGZhZItVo ) that we admired sipping an espresso macchiato coffe and a couple of delicious Ricciarelli pastries. From there to the Duomo (cathedral) with the marble inlaid floor that is really amazing … electronics is nice, but those guys in the Renaissance knew really something about crafts! For lunch we chose a trattoria advised by Villa le Barone (typical restaurant) in Piazza del Mercato named Papei … excellent value. Wine for lunch made us a bit drowsy and everything around us seemed magical. Then walk through the old streets of Siena, buying souvenirs and some Ricciarelli biscuits to b ring back home and a lazy getting back to the hotel through beautiful small Chianti roads.
On Tuesday , after a jogging through the fitness trail and a hearty breakfast (I love the buns served) Villa le Barone had organized for us a wine tasting in Molino di Grace (http://www.ilmolinodigrace.com/ ), a nearby winery where we learned about Chianti wine making and the Sangiovese grapes. Paul knows lots more about wine than me (hem !hem! … I’m going to watch that!) and he found I had lots of body! In the afternoon a pleasant walk with the itineraries supplied by the hotel took us to the lovely hamlet of Volpaia and the serene church of Santa Maria Novella. Back to dinner at the hotel with an incredible dish called “Gnudi” made with spinach and ricotta cheese … Tiramisù was allowed after all those calories lost walking.
Paul and I met at a golf and we reserved green fees for today, Wednesday, at Golf dell’Ugolino (http://www.golfugolino.it/en ) , an 18 hole Golf fifteen minutes away from Villa le Barone, the most ancient in Italy and very well kept. On top of that very elegant and with a very pleasant golf house. We loved it and I won! Relax in the afternoon by the swimming pool after a light pizza lunch.
Thursday is our last day at Villa le Barone and Paul and I we are preparing for our future life taking a cooking lesson from Alessio, Villa le Barone’s Chef. At 10 we are in the kitchen, hands washed and clad with Villa le Barone’s apron … working had in preparing bruschetta (pronounce bruskaytta) with amazingly tasty tomatoes and Villa le Barone’s own olive oil (glad I had the apron on), pasta sauce with the freshest of vegetables (I did not know that egg plant could be that tasty), a meat stew called “peposo” (peppery) that makes a glass of Chianti the most welcome drink ater a mouthful … and the best of Tiramisù (easy to do it … I’ll invite you over immediately when we get back!). At lunch for menu … just eating what we have cooked in the morning … awesome. A siesta is indispensable after this and after this a short car tour to th nearby towns of Radda and Castellina in Chianti to buy some souvenirs.
Tomorrow Friday we leave in the morning to Florence to get on a fast train to romantic Venice for, hopefully, another week of bliss! If you and George decide to take the same step we have taken, I cannot recommend enough Villa le Barone for your honeymoon! As for us, we will definitely return to Italy and Tuscany where there is so much left to discover and enjoy! See you soon again Villa le Barone!
Learn more about Villa Le Barone at www.villalebarone.com