Travel: Italy (Day Four)

We woke up to another glorious day in Florence, Italy and were out and about shortly after 8 a.m. We had somewhere to be: Formaggioteca Terroir. Nice name for a wine and cheese shop but also the starting place for our tour of two Chianti vineyards in Tuscany.

We, along with five others (all from the USA), all piled into a nice air-conditioned van and headed south into Tuscany. You leave the city behind fairly quickly and begin to make the climb up to cooler air. You see vineyards spotted throughout, then come into the country where every hillside is bright green with grape leaves.

At this time of the year, the grapes have not yet flowered and the buds are about 1/2 the size of a peppercorn. Later this summer the grapes will be heavy on the vines and ready for harvest. Seeing it all brings special meaning to, “I am the vine, you are the branches.”

The first of the vineyards we visited was Fattoria Cortana e Paterno. It was a lower altitude giving it slightly warmer temperatures than the second vineyard we visited, meaning they would be harvesting a few weeks earlier.

Picture from their website.

We were treated to four different wines from a nice bright white to a dry red. They paired it with some nice cheeses, bread, honey they produced, and a caramelized onion chutney that I had to buy a jar of before leaving. The wine was remarkable!

From here we made our way further up into the hills and came to the restaurant owned and operated by Dario Cecchini. I did not know of him beforehand, but the New York Times describes him as “The most famous butcher in the world.” He is the “butcher-poet”. The warning for those entering his restaurant, “ABANDON HOPE ALL YE WHO ENTER, FOR YOU ARE NOW IN THE HANDS OF A BUTCHER.” Beef, pork, grilled, stewed, boiled… oh, my.

From here we rolled ourselves back into the van and climbed further into the Tuscan hills and arrived at Poggio al Sole. Can I just say, “These places will make you very happy!” The owners/managers/servers seem to truly love not only the wine but the people who come to taste it and celebrate it. Stephanie, the daughter-in-law of the owner, showed us around the grounds and the cellar and Carmen (with the most brilliant Italian accent) told us all about the wine and what made it so special.

Downloaded from their Facebook Page.

On the way back down the mountain, we made two brief stops. The first was to the Abbey of Saint Michele Arcangelo is located in the town of Passignano. The religious community was established here around the year 1000.

The final stop was at the Piazzale Michelangelo which provided a stunning view of the city of Florence.

Walking home, I came across the same street artist that I saw yesterday. I walked away, but said if I see it again, I’ll get it. I saw it again…

Acrylic on canvas.

Blessings to you all and may your wine be as good as mine!

Journal: July 25, 2021

Introducing Fermina

On the day of Dr. Urbino’s death, Florentino Ariza announced to the ever elusive Fermina Urbino, “I have waited for this opportunity for more than half a century, to repeat to you once again my vow of eternal fidelity and everlasting love.” This particular wine is Fermina in her younger years, when she sat out on the porch, gazing at the young man, Florentino, across the park, and watching him as he composed his letters of love to her. Either that or I just like the name. Either way, she is tasty. She was bottled today, which is a week later than planned–when trying last week, I accidentally hit the bottom of the carboy and disturbed the fine sediment. It was worth the wait. She settled out real purty. It came to 27 bottles, so that’ll make for some happy dinner parties in the near future (speaking of which, Creamy Chicken Francese is on the menu this Wednesday, served up with some Brussel Sprouts roasted in olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and fresh made bread.)

Today, we had excellent church with several visitors… always a good thing! I had a preaching break and Ash C. stepped in for me. Love to preach, but nice to have the occasional Sunday off, plus it is good for everyone to hear from someone other than me. A line from Ash’s sermon that hit home: “We have expectations of how things should be and how we should respond to them, and yet when we turn our troubles to God we are surrendering our abilities to interfere and putting complete trust in him taking over and meeting our needs.” Yeah… she nailed it. She will make an excellent Dominican.

The most recent movie I watched comes from 1986, but one I’ve not seen before: Children of a Lesser God. Quite a remarkable film, especially the script that allowed for the audience to “hear” both sides of the conversation. Beautiful line: “Do you think we could find a place where we could meet… not in silence and not in sound.” Perhaps that finds the heart of most difficulties we experience when with others: we each want the other to enter our world, while we are unwilling to enter their’s. Perhaps a true and lasting relationship is one that discovers–together–the… new. Ah, but then we would have to sacrifice a part of ourselves and we just can’t have that! (So we retire to our separate corners for a respite and then come back out–gloves up.) I understand that the title of the movie is from a line in the poem Idyllys of the King by Alfred Lord Tennyson:

I found Him in the shining of the stars,
I marked Him in the flowering of His fields,
But in His ways with men I find Him not.
I waged His wars, and now I pass and die.
O me! for why is all around us here
As if some lesser god had made the world,
But had not force to shape it as he would,
Till the High God behold it from beyond,
And enter it, and make it beautiful?

Thought for the day (and as it is Sunday): “Wine is like the incarnation–it is both divine and human.” ― Paul Tillich. I’ve had the first bottle of Fermina chilling for four hours… time to see how she really tastes.

Have a happy week.

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