The Essence of Tuscany

Sometimes I feel like Tuscany can be bottled.

The olives in a sunny Italian grove are pressed into a bright oil to be taken anywhere in the world and poured over crusty bread. A few drops of the region’s dark, sweet balsamic vinegar on this bread is a very happy start to any meal, and opening a bottle of Chianti Classico seems like a vacation in itself. It’s almost like the sweeping vistas, patchwork farms, and sunny days of Tuscany can be can be distilled, reduced to a powerful essence.

Castello di Verrazzano

I had the privilege of visiting the centuries old Castello di Verrazzano this summer. At the castle, my group’s tour guide enthusiastically told us the estate’s history as well as the process of making delicious wine. Then we got to try some of the estate’s own bottled heritage, including a few types of wine in a range of taste and price.

When asked what the best wine in the world is, our friendly guide explained that her grandfather had always told her, “the wine with the highest price and the most awards isn’t necessarily the best wine. It doesn’t matter how much you paid for a bottle, if you’re with good company, in a beautiful place, and the wine tastes good with what you are eating, then that’s the best wine.” How sweet and true!

Looking back at our stay in Tuscany, I love to scroll through my pictures of the loggia at the Villa il Poggiale where we stayed. The idyllic villa sits at the top of a hill, surrounded by olive groves and allows panoramic views of the innumerable, picturesque farms dotted across similar hills as far as the eye can see. At the end of the deep-set front porch is one tall, open air window which seems to frame the best of the countryside for the viewing pleasure of anyone lounging outside.

Villa il Poggiale

As nerdy as it is, before my trip, I had watched “Monty Don’s Italian Gardens” on Netflix, eager to see what the world would look like in Italy. On the show, I learned that a trick in gardening is to frame a beautiful view in order to bring it into focus for the visitor, and by concentrating on one part of a vast expanse, the view outside the garden becomes something precious to be admired like artwork.

It seems to me like this framed view, like a good bottle of wine, condenses what is beautiful about the surrounding area and makes you feel warm and happy to experience it…especially when enjoying it surrounded by friends and family and good food.

Hope you have a chance to enjoy the essence of wherever you find yourself this summer, and maybe you too can take a little bottle of Tuscan sun home with you.