Monday, 10 August 2009

Under the Tuscan Sun

Reading about Italian wine tours in our newspapers today brings back memories of one I went to in Tuscany four years ago.

Shortly after reading 'Under the Tuscan Sun' by Frances Mayes, I knew I had to make that trip to Tuscany. Needless to say, I arrived in Florence at the height of summer, expecting to see and experience the spectacular Tuscan countryside for myself.

I had envisioned villas and frescoes, warm homey architecture and overgrown brambles in the garden, vineyards and olive trees, vibrant markets and friendly locals. Like her, I wanted to revel in the sunlight, enjoy long views of the valley and savour the langour of slow paced days.

Throughout the train journey from Florence to Lucca, I was mersmerised by the countryside and kept looking out for the iconic cypress trees lining the roads. (Incidentally, the cypress is not a happy symbol in Tuscany. These trees were frequently planted along roads to commemorate the dead from wars.)

It was at Fattoria Colle Verde where I finally saw pages of the book come to life. The beautiful villa and
terraces cultivated with grape vines and olive trees literally took my breath away.

The Colle Verde Estate was assembled in the 16th century by Tomas Guinigi, a scion of one of the leading families of Lucca during the medieval and renaissance periods. I was privileged to be a visitor at a place so steeped in history, yet is one of the leading wine and olive producers in Lucca today.

Here, the vineyards and olive groves lie on a wide, south-facing valley dropping from 300 to 100 meters above sea level. Apparently, this natural amphitheater of terraces creates an extremely well balanced and unique agricultural ecosystem.

Even the lemon plants that are full of bright lemons thrive so well here.

Entrance to the wine shop.

An enchanting view of the sprawling estate.

I became so tanned after a week in sunny Tuscany.

Wine tasting session.

More views of the estate.

With friends.

The special microclimate and the distinctive characteristics of the terrain make it ideal for growing roses too.

Grape vines.

Here at Colle Verde, the olives from one tree can produce a bottle of virgin olive oil a year. We were treated to freshly pressed oil at the oil press. The Italians drink it for health.

After lunch, we jumped in the private pool at the villa. The water was cool and refreshing. The view from the top was breath-taking.

Another view of the pool.


Fresh Fry aka 福星 said...

ah....i is the miss travelling. hehehe.....

Petunia Lee said...

Ting, your blog touches people's lives! Because of you I dragged my whole family down to Brussels Sprouts and everyone swooned over the pork belly. Now, I have this urge to drag everyone to Italy. Oh agony... That's very far away you know.

Unknown said...

Hi. How are you doing? You are a very very lucky woman!!!! Enjoy!!

Blur Ting said...

Fry - I miss it too!

Blur Ting said...

Petunia - You must! Go on a walking or biking holiday and your family will thank you for it!!

Blur Ting said...

RM - Hey! How nice to see you here! Yes, I was lucky I made time to go to places that I fancy. You can too, this time with baby and hubby!

auntielucia said...

An enchanting view of the sprawling estate.
-- my, my! this looks like an enlarged section of a Raphael painting!

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