Tag Archives: Montalcino

Montalcino Revisited

13 Jun

Last year, I wrote about our most amazing visit to the Tenuta Friggiali winery and our opportunity to sample many wonderful wines, including our favorite, Pietranera Brunello. This year, we wanted to share the experience with Sandy and Larry, and once again, the lovely Emanuela welcomed us as old friends.

Getting ready for the tasting!

A few things have changed since last year, the most significant for us being that the home where we met Marissa, the owner, and her cousin Maria, has now been transformed into offices and a cellar by their daughter, who produces the Donna Olga label. It seems that Marissa and her husband spend less time in Tuscany, and when they are there, they occupy the house where we spent the night last year.

Incredible things can happen by chance, and for us, the chance meeting of Marissa at her home last year was a memory we’ll always treasure. While Marissa wasn’t in Montalcino this year, she was aware of our visit and sent her regards from Napoli, as did we back to her. I like thinking that Len and I were the last strangers that became friends with Marissa in that house. The thought will always bring a huge smile to my face and warm thoughts of an unforgettable chance encounter in our lives.

After our tasting, we had lunch at a small café in the town of Montalcino. Cesare the owner made sure we didn’t leave hungry!




A salumi platter

Anchovies for Len!

Hot Pecorino!

L’Angolo Cafe

The Morning After.6

15 Aug

Before we turned to leave, Marisa said one more thing to me. I smiled and nodded my head yes.

You may recall this as the ending to our meeting with the ladies. When I smiled and nodded yes, I was actually accepting Marisa’s invitation for breakfast the next day! Around nine the next morning, we walked down the long drive to their house.  I think Len was about to ask “Are you sure you understood her?” when they came around the house waving at us.

We exchanged hugs and buongiornos and a few minutes later they emerged with the largest croissants we had ever seen. They were filled with various jams and cremes and accompanied by rich espresso. Heavenly.

Once again, conversation flowed easily…we were like old friends now enjoying breakfast together, sharing our plans for the day, and soaking in what the experience had to offer. There were times I think all four of us were talking – and hearing – at the same time,  a great cultural skill if you happen to be from an Italian family.

We spent a lot of time talking about their home in Naples, a city where Len and I want to spend more time and also the birthplace of my maternal grandparents. Before long, they were inviting us to visit them in Naples! We exchanged phone numbers and mentally added this to our bucket list. Around 10:30, we finally bid our farewells. Lots of smiles, hugs, and promises to meet again. Oh, how we only hope!

After we left the ladies, we met with Emanuela, shared our stories about our dinner and our time with the ladies, then ordered some Pietranera to be shipped home. Each time we open a bottle we’ll relive these marvelous days and think fondly of our new friends.

Arrivederci ladies, and grazie for the most amazing memories!


Judy and Len

The Dinner on the Hill.5

13 Aug


There is a paradox about many of the hill towns in Tuscany. You can clearly see them from a distance, yet they disappear as you approach. Such is the case with Sant’Angelo in Colle. Marisa, Maria and Emanuela had all recommended that we drive to Il Leccio for dinner. Not far, they told us. Just turn left, then right, then keep driving.

So after a most enjoyable day, beginning with our tour, then the tasting and finally our chance meeting and subsequent two-hour conversation with the ladies, we headed for dinner at Il Leccio. The restaurant, we were told, offered the highest and most amazing views of Montalcino and we were hungry.

We set out for what we thought was a 5-10 minute drive. We drove through the winding hills, and with each turn, expected to see the restaurant yet all we saw was a town in the distance. About 20 minutes into the trip, with the sun setting and our stomachs unhappy, we needed to decide to continue or turn back. Oh, well, we had come this far…

Finally, up the highway, we saw a sign. We were in another town! The sign read Sant’Angelo in Colle. Surely they would have told us the restaurant was in another town, but to them, I guess it’s all Montalcino.  Onward we proceeded and eventually saw an arrow pointing to the left and the name Il Leccio. Finally! But not so fast, impatient ones, for ahead of us was a cobblestone street with a pebbled parking area on the left and no sign of a town. We parked and saw what appeared to be a few locals. “Il Leccio?” we asked, and in the typical Italian manner, they replied “Si, sempre diritto.” To Italians, everything is always straight ahead.

Ok, where is the town, where is the restaurant, where are we???? We started to climb some very steep streets…we were in the wall of a city but where was the city? At each intersection we randomly chose a direction.

After an amazingly steep climb,  we heard some voices. Yeah! We actually split and ascended the hill from separate directions. At the top was a piazza, a few restaurants, a church, and the magnificent view. This was the city we had seen from the distance.

“Do you have reservations?” they asked at Il Leccio. Stay calm, Judy, after all this, we are going to eat here. There were several large parties, but one small table outside that was surely meant for us.

We learned that Sant’Angelo in Colle is the highest growing area of Montalcino, 400+ meters above sea level. Although the sun had set, the moonlight and stars cast a glow on the hillside, the night was brilliant, and the view spectacular as promised. We shared pasta and salad by candlelight under the stars and simply ordered a bottle of sparkling water as we had ample wine waiting for us at the villa. A storybook ending to a most amazing day.



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