Only two more days to go of our tasting experience of Tuscany. We all know that feeling when our travels are coming to an end. Each moment seems more precious and each taste, sound and view more intense and special. Continue travelling with our dear friend, Maureen Moffatt who so kindly shared her travel journal with us.
While getting dressed I hear Judy and Linda call me from the courtyard and I run out to see what it is. There to my amazement sitting all alone in the middle of the yard is my errant suitcase and I just shout with joy. Judy and Linda just happen to have their cameras there to capture the moment. Judging from the tags and information attached, it has had quite a tour of the continent! No matter, I have my clothes in time for France on Sunday. Dragging it inside I don’t even open it, for what could I need after all this time and besides, we are en route to the famous Montepulciano, home of the Vino Nobile.
It is a warm sunny day and perfect for a luxurious walk up to the town centre. It is another Renaissance town and has preserved its 15th century buildings. It has a peaceful air and wide avenues. I read that it is the birthplace of a poet nicknamed ‘ Poliziano,’ which also happens to be one of my favourite wines. I step into Boriana’s Enoteca and meet a young man called Marco. He will be coming tonight to teach us how to make pici, the Tuscan pasta. He pops open a bottle of wine and I find myself in this little shop drinking wine with someone I met 2 minutes ago at 10 in the morning. My goodness what a life! The wine is going to my head and I decide upon a hasty retreat so I can make it up the street and see the remainder of the town.
Being a hill town there is only one direction to the city centre and that is up, up, up. There are people around and the pace is slow and meandering. Almost at the top I spot a large barn-like building with an open door and I stick my head inside. It is dark but I can see a man hammering away on a copper pot. Row upon row of completed pots and pans line the shelves. It is positively medieval. They have been making these gorgeous pots here just like this for centuries. He doesn’t look up and I slip away unnoticed. At the end of this street I enter the Piazza Grande with its city hall or Palazzo Communale and large tower. There is an impressive cathedrale but I sense it is time to make my way down to meet the group and I turn to leave. I will see it all next time. The idea of next time appeals to me. I always leave something for ‘next time’. It is like insurance that I will return.
It is lunch time and we walk up the path to the walled town of Montecchiello. It is a beautiful little village with sensational views. The thick walls of the 13th century castle surround the town. As we walk I see no one. The doors and windows are closed as if everyone has departed for the seaside. Although silent, the town does not feel unfriendly. The walls and houses and gardens have a warm welcoming feeling to them.
We meet at the Osteria La Porta just inside the gate. Upon entering we find ourselves in the middle of the restaurant filled with small wooden tables and white paper coverings. At the back we are led up stone steps to the terrace where our table has been set up. The view is breathtaking and suddenly I am ravenous. The sun feels warm on my face and everyone seems happy indeed. I am in a dreamlike state. It is all too much, looking around at this little group on the top of the stone wall, in a picturesque osteria, with the valley spread out far below. The perfection is excruciating.
The food and wine appear and I am re-energized. The group seems more animated too, especially with the wasps buzzing gently overhead in the flowering vines. There is a relaxed mood but also something more. It is almost as if we were suddenly aware that most of our trip is behind us. There is great happiness but it is tinged with sadness. It gives an exquisite edge to our emotions. I am no longer looking forward but want to remember, hold on, to feel every sensation, the sun, the ruby-coloured wine, the gentle clanging of knives and forks, the murmurs of other patrons and especially the closeness of kindred spirits.
Too soon it is over and we leave Monticchiello. The evening is spent tasting olive oil, making pici and sipping wine. I head off to bed tired and a little sad.
Maureen Moffatt is a Canadian creative contributor for VIVA 70, living in Nova Scotia. The tour Maureen experienced is still available with Gail Norton and Judy Wood
Tuscan Food and Wine Tour
Fall 2019: September 29 – October 6 – 6 SPOTS AVAILABLE
Fall 2020: September 27 – October 4 – NOW BOOKING
View Itinerary and Tour Information 2019 (PDF)
Join us in the historic hillside village of Cortona, in the heart of Tuscany, for our Italian escape. A beautiful 17th century farmhouse villa is home for a week, nestled among the olive groves and vineyards. Hosted by Gail Norton (The Cookbook Co. Cooks) and Judy Wood (Chef, MEEZ Cuisine).