Things in life feel like they come in waves. The wave that I have been riding for quite a while now is a good one. One that has brought some pretty fantastic opportunities. A visit to the Aeolian Islands in Sicily, quick jaunts to Florence for lunch and an art filled couple of days in Venice are just some of what has been keeping me busy (though not in Rome.) I am grateful for all of these delicious opportunities and doing what I really love to do most. Sharing them.
Earlier this month I was on the train again to Florence to meet some longtime friends and new colleagues at the remarkable Castello de Ama which is a short, windy drive away in the Chianti hills.
The remnants of the wine harvest vines glowed a golden yellow and the sky was one of those bright blue with fluffy clouds like in the movies skies as we arrived at the imposing marble wedge that marked the entrance to the estate.
Marco and Lorenza have been creating wine and commissioning art on this historic piece of land for a few decades. Hectares of grapes, rambling stone buildings, and a restaurant are what would fill our day. They both welcomed us with the announcement that first things first we were heading to see their olives being pressed into oil. We all jockeyed for the best Instagram angle of the bright green liquid pouring into pristine steel containers and inhaled as deeply as we could the sharp grassy scent.
The art collection that Lorenza and Marco have created is like a very relaxing and precise Venice Biennale. Each piece inhabiting a traditional space to challenge the typical Tuscan countryside experience.
We learned about the artists, from South Africa, Chile, Japan, Italy and the United States and their time spent creating their pieces on the estate while a quick snack of toasted bread slicked with the just pressed olive oil and glasses of a velvety Merlot poured from a cask appeared as we sat amongst the barrels, eyes adjusting to the dim light.
Our senses now sated it was time for lunch. A long table was set with fall tinged leaves from the vineyard and winsome placemats that detailed how to make Ribolita. Wine was poured and a season spanning plate of Papa Pomodoro and Mushroom and bean faro stew was served. The pasta was a traditional pici with ragu and for our secondo, two perfectly crisp diamonds of polenta sat next to an earthy cinghiagle stew. The sound of the zabaglione being whisked in the nearby kitchen was the background music to our lively lunchtime conversation.
We lingered over dessert, a think rich slice of walnut tart and strong cups of coffee, before reluctantly bidding our gracious hosts farewell and winding our disparate ways back home.
Castello di Ama is an extraordinary place, with art that I continue to ponder; Particularly the red glow of a depthless disc that Anish Kapoor installed in a 16th century chapel, outstanding food and wine and that indiscernible quality that like a perfect sunset or a really good book is an experience to be savored. And shared.
Castello di Ama
53013 Gaiole in Chianti