A review of the
by Brigitte Türk,
with extracts from “The Hills of Tuscany” by Ferenc Máté
Ancient, rich Tuscany – Etruscan land, region of proud City States. A land that is still rightly famed for so gloriously bringing together handwork and art, pleasure and nature in everyday life.
“We let our eyes glide over the landscape. A sea of hills rolling away to the horizon, covered with lovingly cared for vineyards and olive groves, orchards and fields. Here freshly ploughed soil, there the maize still standing, hay drying in a field, meadows, woods, fields: the countryside lay there open, without fences, and the lines between the fields weren't straight, but dictated by the run of a stream, or followed the curve of a hill, the bottom of a valley. Old stone buildings crouched on some of the hills, surrounded by cypresses, fruit trees and vegetable gardens. A monastery with a square church tower perched on a ridge, behind it a tiny village was visible on top of a hill – Borgo San Felice! And bathing it all was the Soft Light of Tuscany, Peace and Quiet.!
Individual arrivals in Siena Ampugnano and the initial welcome by the Pilatus-Team with their newest model – the PC 12 NG
We didn't just benefit from the friendly and qualified information of the Pilatus staff concerning the prestige Swiss aircraft, but also enjoyed their comprehensive welcome with a variety of delicacies from the Italian Cucina.
Outside the Aeroporto the Ricci buses were already waiting to take us at last through the incredibly beautiful countryside to “our” fantastic Borgo San Felice.
“The setting sun was just touching the horizon when a firework of colours exploded around us. The olive trees shone in silver, the geraniums blazed, and the colours of the centuries seeped from the ancient ruins.”
Just the right time to get a quick impression of the wines and olive oils of the Agricola San Felice.
We enjoyed our first evening together with a barbecue and local wine in a charming courtyard under illuminated and inspiring vines.
“One by one we then stepped into the silvery moonlight looking for our beds. We breathed in deeply the night air, perfectly happy. It wasn't just the food and wine that had helped. It was as if we'd eaten at friends'”
Today was a bus tour through Tuscany, characterized by fertile green hills – an expression of a 14th Century agricultural structure in which city investors resided on the hilltop and charged rents to the farmers until they gave up.
Recorded at Pisa University.
Luckily we've got enough “storage capacity”...
Pienza – our first destination
Enea Silvio Piccolomini (later Pope Pius II) realised his humanistic dream of an ideal city here around 1460.
Fertile green hillsides
Tuscany has fed Italy for centuries with cereals and wine, with ham and boar pâté. The farmers were rarely the winners, the land being controlled by wealthy townsfolk.
Montalcino – Time for an excellent lunch together with Brunello di Montalcino!
“...was clever enough to ask for a suitable wine and he recommended a Brunello from Montalcino. We discovered later that the Brunello is one of the finest wines in Italy.”
“The food, the wine, the sun flooding in – it was all perfect. We were falling hopelessly in love with Tuscany.”
We spent the afternoon relaxing by and in the pool, thereby enjoying a further advantage of San Felice – the town of joy!
It wasn't long before we were meeting again for an aperitif – this time under the trees next to the Piazza in San Felice.
At last our destination was Siena,
with among other things its legendary Palio, which provides excitement twice a year on the Piazza del Campo.
The towers of the Duomo Santa Maria Assunta, which took 200 years to build, dominate medieval Siena and the surrounding countryside.
Bank Monte die Paschi.
Banking started in Siena. Originally the banks used tables or benches on the street for their transactions, which were sawn off at the end of the available money. Most banking expressions have a Latin origin.
The whole town is electrified and excitedly awaits their Palio. Here the Contrada d'Oca (Goose) flags are waving and it is this team that will be able to win for the first time in 10 years on 2.7.2011.
Twice a year one of the most beautiful squares in the world, the shell-shaped Piazza del Campo, bursts at its seams. At the beginning of July and in the middle of August the Palio delle Contrade takes place. 10 of the 17 Siena suburbs (contrada) compete in the traditional horse races. After the races, the splendid festive carousing starts.
Finally we reach the Piazza del Campo, where the preparations for the traditional horse races have started.
Each Contrada has its own flag which is proudly presented before the races. The parades and the prize giving in medieval costumes characterize the picture.
A few impressions of the event.
“While we let the sun warm us on the Piazza, the bells sounded one o'clock – time for lunch.”
The highly reputed Osteria Le Logge was our destination.
“Satisfied, we leaned back in our chairs after this meal, let the sun shine on us and slowly and pleasurably drank an espresso and a grappa.”
Later we strolled through Siena and joined in with the Palio fun.
The way back to San Felice took us through beautiful countryside once again.
Have we lost the way?
A car park for Oldtimers in front of our hotel. What rarities! A Mercedes SSK – one of just 42 in the whole world!
Our enthusiasm led us, of course, straight to this old treasure!
We had to hurry though – today our gala dinner was scheduled. But not before we'd had an aperitif in a suitable location.
The official day of departure had arrived – first by bus to the Aeroporto.
What wonderful aircraft!
Already a tradition – some of the MMIG46 stayed on a day longer -
at home in Tuscany.
© MMIG46 e.V.