Giuseppe Verdi once said – “you may have the universe if I may have Italy”
There is a reason why people refer to the Italian way of being as “la dolce vita”—the sweet life. Italians have mastered the art of taking life one day at a time, and enjoying every minute of it.
It is no secret that I Love Italy, and everything that goes with it.Italy boasts being stylish, cultured, and historical all at the same time.
And then there is the food….Eating in-season-produce, is what the Italians do best, as they know this is the way to get the best flavour from food. Many Italians grow their own vegetables wherever they can , and if they dont have a garden will have an orto,or allotment, yielding fresh produce. Herbs are an integral part of pasta dishes and pots of Rosemary, Basil and Thyme are grown in window boxes and kitchens throughout Italy. And the food markets are plentiful and open most days of the week.
On my last (and not so recent) trip, I joined my daughter for a week in Florence , and then onto a once in a lifetime culinary experience at Badia a Coltibuono , a 1000 year old abbey and wine farm, deep in the Tuscan countryside. We took a short train trip from Florence to Gaiole in Chianti / Montevarchi, and then were taken by taxi up the very long and winding road through beautiful forested countryside which leads to the walled abbey of Badia a Coltibuono.
Our accommodation was on the first floor, the original cells of the monks of the Vallombrosan Order, a Tuscan reform of the Benedictines, who foundered the abbey in 1051. The rooms are now refurbished with views spanning the beautiful Valdarno valley, and the evergreen formal renaissance gardens.
The abbey is the home of famous author and cookbook writer Lorenza de’ Medici . Her best known book being “Italy the Beautiful Cookbook“The restaurant, abbey and vineyards are now run by her daughter and three sons, and we were privileged to have Guido, her youngest son, as our chef and cooking instructor, during our stay with them.
The abbey is situated in 800 hectares of forests and the winery is famed for more than its history and romantic atmosphere. Badia a Coltibuono makes premium wines with estate-grown, organically produced grapes. Their wines are considered to be some of the most iconic Chianti Classico in Tuscany.
If you ever find yourself in this area, a day trip for wine tasting or a tour of the abbey is well worth your while. They are only open during certain months of the year so make sure you check first and make a booking.