A perfect Italian weekend - Tuscany
A perfect weekend in Italy without the limitations of time, budget, or distance. Every week we ask interesting and inspirational Italians, and Italians at heart, to take us along for a the perfect, local weekend.
Is: The Director of an Art Museum in the Netherlands, and a local in a tiny Tuscan Village where her family restored an 13-Century old Podere, farmhouse, to a stunning oasis, filled with contemporary art. Jacqueline takes us to the rolling hills of Tuscany, a sporty weekend filled with art, friends and good food.
To kick off the weekend, I go for a 10-mile run through the woods and farmlands near the house. The challenging hills (sometimes as steep as 10%) make the fresh water and the cappuccino in the square highly desired. As the early morning transitions into a sunny day, more and more people join us on the terrace of the local coffee shop Bar Caffe' La Torre. A perfect start to the day.
After a refreshing dip in the pool, it's time to get properly dressed. Remember: always cut a fine figure in Italy. Along with my friends, we head to Castello di Ama in Chianti in Greve, where artist Giorgio Andreotta Calò has just completed his new site-specific work for this winery. I collaborated with Giorgio back in 2018 when he created a red chapel inside the Oude Kerk, where I was the director and curator. The proprietors, Lorenza and Marco, are not only excellent winemakers but also have a discerning eye for art. Over the years, their collection of site-specific artworks on the property has become famous worldwide, as they've commissioned artists like Anish Kapoor, Daniel Buren, Sugimoto, Lee Hufan, and others.
After touring the artworks, we have lunch in the 18th-century villa. The kitchen serves Sformattino, Gnocchi di palate, and, of course, the estate's wine: Castello di Ama. We bid farewell to Lorenzo and Marco and visit a local Dutch artist in the next village who specializes in ceramics.
The day concludes at Osmosi, a slow food and fine dining restaurant in Torrita di Siena. The table overlooks the vineyards where we relish the conversation with our children, who joined us for the weekend. The dishes served are exceptional, and one could argue that a Michelin star would be a fitting recognition.
On Sunday, we rise early to explore the countryside on our bicycles. We join a group of local Italian cyclists who know the area intimately. All we need to do is follow and soak in the breathtaking scenery. We make a stop in Montepulciano, where our friends Antonio and Karin manage a bio-dynamic farm Fattoria San Martino. Lunch is served with a view of the medieval village of Montepulciano. After engaging conversations about the state of our planet and strategies to care for it, we refill our empty water bottles and drive back to our village, passing through tranquil old towns like Montefollonico, Petroio, and Montisi. Each village has its own water pump, and we gladly refill our bottles at each stop.
To properly conclude the weekend, we gather with the whole group of friends and family at Il Conte Matto. The restaurant (known for its slow food and Tuscan cuisine) is famous for its tagliate. The meat, sliced into strips, comes from the Chiana cows from which this valley derives its name. As a vegetarian, I make an exception for this dish, which is truly worth indulging in.
Conte Matto was a count and the great-uncle of the restaurant's owner Davide. He was an avid gambler and ended up losing all his land. The farmers found humor in this and united in what they called a "cooperativo." This part of Tuscany has historically been strongly communist. The Count Conte Matto left behind a monumental castle, "Castello Cacciaconte," which also fell into the hands of the community. However, the upkeep proved too much to bear, and the building, which occupies a third of the village, now stands abandoned and deteriorating. Though there are plans to develop it into a music center and public garden.
We thank Davide, the owner of the restaurant, for his hospitality and promptly inform him when we'll be back again. It's usually just a few weeks, as you can understand!
Off-the-beaten track Mediaval Villages: Trequanda, Montisi, Petroio and Montefollonico
Coffee at: Bar Caffe' La Torre, Trequanda
Lunch, Art and wine at: Castello di Ama | Gaiole in Chianti (Siena)
Dinner: Osmosi, via umbria 65 Montepulciano (Siena)
Lunch: Fattoria San Martino, Montepulciano (Siena)
Dinner: iL Conte Matto, Trequanda
Places to Stay
Podere Invidia, Trequanda (Siena)
Fattoria San Martino, Montepulciano (Siena)