Sunday, October 12, 2014

Under the Tuscan thunderstorms

I was re-reading Frances Mayes's Under the Tuscan Sun right before we left, and it set the stage well for this leg of our Italy adventures. Yesterday morning I took a peaceful stroll through the vineyards after breakfast. Everywhere you walk here, you hear lizards scurrying out of the path, taking refuge in the crevices of stone walls and under shrubs. They're very skittish but I did manage to get a couple of pictures of them.

View from Terre di Baccio's patio at breakfast

Lizard, lizard on the wall!

At the entrance to Terre di Baccio

Looking up to the agriturismo


This way to Terre di Baccio!

These will be wine someday ...

Vineyard views

After my walk we headed into Greve to check out market day. It was really interesting - not at all like our markets at home. You can buy almost anything there, from underwear to sweaters, nice shoes, cooking utensils, and groceries. We had fun walking around and watching the locals shop for the necessities. Damon picked out a nice leather wallet, something he was thinking about buying in Florence but hadn't. They had lots of nice clothes and things for reasonable prices, but the reality of packing all my luggage on my back dissuaded me from buying anything. We got some delicious gelato in waffle cones from a restaurant for a snack. Damon got limone (lemon) and I got 2 flavors since I couldn't decide - pistachio and "buon talenti" (translates to good talent?) which was like a sweet cream flavor. Yum!

Market day in Greve

Get your undies here!

Fair food in Tuscany is roasted pork!

The cheese vendor at the market

All kinds of fruits and nuts

We hiked back to the farm and spent the afternoon relaxing by the pool. Dark clouds built in the sky, and remembering Frances Mayes's description of thunderstorms in Tuscany, I thought we might have to pack up and abandon pool time. But, the clouds broke up and we enjoyed the pool until the sun went behind the hill. 

Pool time and storms building!

In the evening we walked back into Greve for dinner. While we were walking, we could see flashes of lightning in the distance. As we walked through the grassy fields after leaving the vineyard, a medium-sized animal that we thought looked like a wild cat (bobcat sized) went bounding across the trail and through the grass in front of us! It was dusk, so we couldn't make out the details but it was exciting, and maybe a bit scary! There are miles of dense oak forests all around the vineyards and we didn't have any idea what lives there besides deer (we gathered from road signs) and wild boar of course.

We had a wonderful dinner (one of our best so far!) at a restaurant called La Terrazza in Greve, which had been recommended by our host at the farm, Ilaria. It turned out that the restaurant's house olive oil was from our farm, Terre di Baccio, and we also picked out a bottle of wine from the farm as well to go with our meal. We had braised beef and pappardelle noodles with wild boar ragout, and all of it was delicious. The entire time we were eating, there were nearly constant flashes of lightning in the distance. It was dramatic! We asked at dinner about what animal we may have seen, and the restaurant owner said they have no wild cats here, so for the size of animal we described it was probably a wild boar! Apparently the vineyards are completely fenced because if either the wild boar or deer get in, they eat absolutely everything in their path and are very destructive. We also learned that this year has not been good for olives and olive oil. Last winter was not cold enough to kill off the bugs and now the olives which should be green and getting big in advance of the harvest around late November are dark brownish-black and shriveled. They are hoping for colder temperatures this winter and good olive oil in 2015.

Terre di Baccio wine at La Terrazza in Greve

Damon photobombing the wine and olive oil!

A sneak peak into a darling restaurant in Greve

We walked back to the farm after dinner with no animal sightings this time, but the thunder and lightning was much closer! Right after we got back the storms went right over us and it poured rain! I love thunderstorms when I don't have a panicky dog (Jackson) to manage. We also consulted Google about the wildlife of Tuscan forests and it seems like what we saw was either a wild boar or a red fox. Both are described as being active in grassy areas adjacent to forests at dusk and are skittish if approached by humans.

The idea of these running around in the forests is both fascinating and alarming to me!

Today is a gorgeous day here and in a few hours our driver will be here to take us around to see castles, tombs, vineyards, and of course taste some delicious local wines! We are excited! In the meantime, our hostess graciously offered that we could do our laundry, which is much appreciated after all the hand washing in sinks I've been doing!

Laundry day!

Damon and the farm dog, Brando. He is a sweetheart and his personality reminds us of our Chaco!

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