The morning began in Greve, one of the quaintest piazzas of Tuscany. It is also the capital town of Chianti. It was still early, so the town was very quiet. We enjoyed walking into the shops and talking with the owners. My friend, Linda and I stopped by a small market to buy fresh fruits & vegetables. We then went to a leather shop to find a leather belt for Linda, which the owner sized specifically for her.
The bus driver, Andrea, drove us through the beautiful countryside to Villa del Cigiliano. The Villa was like a fortress. The Villa has been in the family since the 1500's, which was purchased by Alessandro di Niccolo Antinori.
We were greeted by Anna, the current winemaker. Her sweet smile and gentle spirit began to tell us the story of the Villa. Her mother, Eleonora Antinori, passed away in 2001 and she inherited the winery because her brother and sister did not not want any part of it. Anna & her husband were living in Rome and decided to come back to the place where she had such fond memories of growing up.
Anna was born in Portugal where her father was a diplomat to the Embassy. Throughout her life, she had lived in very exotic places and at the age of 59 she decided it was time to go home and keep the memories of her ancestors alive among her children.
The medieval country villa was filled with so much history. Personal photographs filled the rooms with lots of history and stories. The arched ceilings & colorful furniture and paintings were very intriguing and added to the environment of the medieval times. Anna had her own collection of owls scattered throughout one of the rooms.
Anna escorted us outside to the beautiful garden which was filled with roses, exotic plants and the pool which acted as a mirror to the main house. She spoke of the memories of a young child sitting under a tree, which was at least 150 years old. The tree is no longer there, but she has planted a new tree to shade her family & guest as they sit out in the garden. The back facade was decorated with shells to represent Neptune.
As we walked through the garden to the barn, Anna picked strawberries for us to eat. The taste was so sweet & so fresh. She showed us where she stored her lemon trees in the winter. There was another room which is used as a hanging place for Malvasia grapes which are left to dry for a few months until they become raisin like. These rare grapes are used to make Vinsanto, the holy wine used in the church.
We also toured the Chianti Classico winery & cellar. They produce about 40,000 bottles a year.
Lunch was served on a long oval table in the family's dining room. The tablecloth and dishes were so elegant. We were served appetizers, bread(which we drenched in the family's premium olive oil), homemade pasta ravioli, strawberries(for dessert) and of course the traditional Chianti Classico wines.
When our time came for us to load up on the bus, our hearts were saddened in that we had not had enough time to hear more stories told by Anna.
As I left, I told her I would be back!