“Where you are is who you are. The further inside you the place moves, the more your identity is intertwined with it. Never casual, the choice of place is the choice of something you crave.” – Under the Tuscan sun
There’s definitely something magical about Tuscany, and it’s difficult to put your finger on exactly what it is… it might be the fantastic landscapes, with rolling rows of vineyards and silvery olive groves, the fantastic cuisine and wines, those spectacular sunsets, the architecture ranging from Romanesque to Renaissance. It’s probably a mix of all these things, with an added bit of magic that makes the place picturesque.
We stayed in Fonte Aulente, a property located in one of the most beautiful areas of Tuscany, Montalcino, famous for its Brunello wines.
Fonte Aulente, owned by Alexandra and Michelangelo is a Tuscan hilltop farmhouse from the 12th century surrounded by a beautiful garden-park, with spectacular panoramic on Val D’Orcia hills. It is 2 km from center Montalcino, the ideal place to drive around and visit surrounding towns and vineyards or stay in the garden and watch the landscape. Surrounding the house there is a romantic terraced garden with a natural pool, a pond with water lilies, olive trees and vines, beautiful pine and cypress trees. The beauty of the garden and surrounding land is indescribable in words, especially in early summer when the lavender and roses are in full blossom. The guest house with 2 rooms, is very tastefully furnished in accordance with its historical background.
From the bed we could watch the sunrise and the fog lift over the valley down below.
The garden greeted us each morning with unparalleled beauty and calm. We took the breakfast at the outdoor dining table with a glass of Prosecco, enjoying the view.
Everyday after breakfast and a bit of swimming, we left the house to make few impromptu Brunello tastings in the vineyards around so we stopped at Casanova di Neri, Castiglion del Bosco, La Gerla, Banfi in search for the great emotions offered by the outstanding 2010 vintage as well as by the 2011 one.
No journey to Tuscany is complete without experiencing Montalcino countryside wineries, so we had a private wine tour made by Alexandra Adamek, the owner of Fonte Aulente, a sommelier very knowledgeable about the local wines and especially about Brunello di Montalcino. “Brunello di Montalcino is Tuscany’s most famous DOCG and its boldest expression of the Sangiovese grape. Brunello is the local name for the Sangiovese Grosso clone from which Brunello di Montalcino should be made in its entirety. The wine cannot be released for sale until five years after the harvest.” We thoroughly enjoyed her tutelage on wines and wine making processes at Capanna winery, a great experience and a pleasant surprise. Together with Alexandra we discovered the terroir and savored exclusive Brunello wines, admired its colors, checked for the key components in wines that give the balance: the minerality, the acidity, the tannins on one hand and the alcohol, the softness and alcohol on the other. She explained how the soil conditions and climate influence each vintage and many more. Usually Alexandra offers one day wine tour in 3 different wineries (north, mid and south Montalcino) but since we were with Adriana, our 2 year old babygirl, we took a 3 hours tour to be introduced into the marvelous Capanna winery, a family tradition with all the members directly involved in the wine making. While tasting, we could also briefly meet and greet the owner, Patrizio Cencioni and his son waving at us and continuing their usual work.
You cannot be in the area without visiting some of the places with the most stunning views and wines: Castello di Velona, Banfi Castle, Castiglion del Bosco so we enjoyed them in a paced and relaxed mood, as their atmosphere is.
In the same pace we strolled the cobblestone streets of the nearby medieval villages looking for good restaurants to have lunch. With a short drive from Montalcino, we’ve been visiting Pienza, San QuiricoD’Orcia, Trequanda, San Gimignano so we combined the rustic natural beauty of Tuscany and its incredible medieval hilltop towns. We always check the Michelin app when looking for restaurants ( Bib Gourmet ones being our favorites) so we were delighted to find Boccon DiVino just outside Montalcino for “panoramic view and gastronomic fantasy on the table”. The homemade pasta with prawns and crushed coffee, the tomato soup, the truffle gnocchi or ravioli with Melissa sauce and nuts, the honey pigeon or tagliata are all extremely delicious. Their wine list is great and this is where we discovered La Gerla Brunello, a wine by the glass in their menu and an explosion of beautiful aromas on the palate. In short, an amazing wine.
We’ve been there couple of times. If you are there do not hesitate to order some Pappardelle allaCarbonara di Gamberi con Rigatino Croccante e Polvere di Caffè 100% Arabica – this, in Italian sounds as lyrical as it tastes.
On the main street of Montalcino, you could find Enoteca Osticcio Osteria which offers besides delicious food and a great wine list, an amazing view over the valley.
At Alexandra’ suggestion we ate at Trattoria Ossena in San Quirico D’Orcia, a restaurant very popular among the locals, a great surprise for us as we had a lovely lunch in their generous and beautiful garden: incredibly good food, especially handmade pasta with fresh truffles, gnocchi, steaks and wild boar ragu/ Fiorentina bistecca/steak, etc. We paired our meal with a bottle of Ciacci Piccolomini d’ Aragona 2010. It was one of the most relaxed lunches as our daughter could play in the beautiful garden, always in our sight.
Another day after visiting Pienza with its great choices of Peccorino cheese, we checked the ribolitta in Il Conte Matto Restaurant in Trequanda, had a great pizza at San Giorgio and great icecreams at Gelateria Artigianale Why Not, both downtown Montalcino.
In the afternoon, we did some shopping for the dinner: antipasti and pasta fresca from their small shop, Peccorino di Pienza and of course the 3 of us were lost in front of the wine range from Bruno Dalmazio and Vino al Vino.
The Mercado is opened only on Saturday and the fish comes only on Tuesday- some tips to be known.
At 7.30 it was the perfect moment to sit outside on the terrace and soak in the view.. the perfect Tuscan evening was about to start: The Tuscan sun setting on another day, over the fields vineyards, stone houses and barns. Our al fresco dinner and a bottle of Brunello.