Under the Tuscan spell

February 22, 2018

Have you ever imagined yourself in Italy for vacation, drinking a glass of wine in the green countryside, with a dish of pappardelle in hare sauce?

Well, I guess the best scenario would be Tuscany, with its unique landscapes, greeny thriving gentle hills covered with wide fields and small stone villages.

 

Tuscany is located in the centre of Italy, and in the heart of Tuscany, between the two cities of Siena and Florence, you find the famous wine-production region of Chianti. 

 

 

As you stand upon a hill and look down, it feels like being inside of a Macchiaioli painting, where natural lights and shadows are captured like macchie (literally patches or spots) in defining the landscape around you with vibrant colours.

The wind blows and rays of sunshine kiss the top of the tallest trees till the ground and tinge everything in gold as they quietly set.

 

The view of the rolling hills going up and down, dotted with the silver of the olive trees leaves, the vineyards that draw a green geometry interlacing one with another and ending in the little crooked roads lined with tall cypresses and off in the distance, the border of the woods defined by yellow bushes creating a unique palette of colours.

 

Chianti has a long history behind, first it was Etruscan and then Roman, due to its tortuous road and difficult access to the villages, it was preserved from ruinous barbarian invasions after the decline of the Roman Empire.

From the Middle Ages to the Renaissance, it was a continuous battle field for the fights between Siena and Florence that wanted control over these lands. 

Castles and fortresses that lie on top of many hills overlooking the countryside bear testimony to this glorious and tormented past.

When medieval fights ended, some valleys were cleared and cultivated giving life to the countryside and variety of plants we see today. 

 

 A quiet glen on top of the hills

 

Perched on these fertile and sunny hills, Castello di Ama is named after a small agricultural hamlet, that five centuries ago was the hub of a florid farming and winemaking business; run by a group of local families driven by the love for this place, the Estate was founded and they took on the challenge of bringing Ama back to the splendours of the past.

Nowadays Lorenza Sebasti and Marco Pallanti manage the company producing labels of the highest quality, seeking elegance and refinement with reflecting the territory.

 

Nestled deep in the low rolling hills at an altitude of 500 metres, this sleepy hamlet is surrounded by 200 acres of beautiful landscape right outside your windows.

 

From the stone-built village of Lecchi, the road rises to a panoramic ridge, passing through dense rows of olive grows and oak woods. Here a block of galestro - a clay bedrock, the reason why Sangiovese grapes in this area come out as such good wines - is the welcome sign to Castello di Ama. On the left, the Bellavista vineyard descends in combed rows, rolling up and down into neat slopes, like a patchwork.  

 

To celebrate the inevitable mingling between wine and art, the property is dotted with exclusive contemporary art pieces: once a year, Ama invites an international artist to stay in the Estate, choose a corner and make it his own, giving birth to an art work inspired by his experience.

The prettiest buildings have been turned into hospitality areas, like suites, wine tasting room and restaurant, together with an on-site church and cantina. 

 

When you step foot in Castello di Ama, the attention to detail and the preservation of the place make you inevitably going back in time, aiming to the reconnection between the past and the future through art pieces. 

 

 Artists

 

 Michelangelo Pistoletto, Daniel Buren, Giulio Paolini, Kendell Geers, Anish Kapoor, Chen Zhen, Carlos Garaicoa, Louise Bourgeois, Cristina Iglesia\s, Nedko Solakov, Ilya and Emilia Kabakov, Pascal-Martine Tayou, Hiroshi Sugimoto, Lee Ufan and Roni Horn. 

 

Dip that bread! 

 

Tuscan cooking is easy to prepare and involves few ingredients, based upon using fresh and seasonal stuff. Although the food might be simple compared to other regions, it is very rich in flavour and filling. Meals have usually regional bread by side, a white and unsalted loaf.

 

Did you know that Tuscany is the only region in Italy that has unsalted bread?

 

Why? Not because the baker was too lazy to go get the salt and sold unsalted bread as an invention…there are few hypotheses dating back in time.

 

1) in the XII century, when, during the wars between Florence and the republic of Pisa, it interrupted the salt trade with the hinterland. Since there was no longer a large availability, Florentine peasants and families were forced to produce bread without salt. Or maybe it was a real choice to avoid paying taxes on salt to reflect the libertarian character of Tuscan people.

2) the high cost of salt and a matter of choice: it was preferred to be used in meats and cheeses, rather than in bread

3) the already salty flavour of the Tuscan cuisine induced the bakers to prepare bread without salt.

 

It may seem flavorless at first but its real enjoyment is to soak up all the leftover juices left on your plate, giving it all the flavor it needs and leaving your bread basket empty at the end of the meal.

 

For more visit --> www.castellodiama.com 

 

 

 

 

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