A week or so ago, my Australian neighbor Janet introduced me to a lovely couple who live just outside of Montepulciano. Jenny and Maurizio, also recent transplants, have just restored a centuries old villa and turned it into a beautiful (and soon to be ready for guests) agriturismo. They invited Janet, her husband Ken, and me out to see the villa and we spent an enjoyable afternoon. Maurizio picked us up in the pouring rain, apologizing for what he called his “farmer’s car” and even with the gray skies and the hibernating grape vines, the scenic drive to their property was spectacular. When the grapes are abundant in the summer, it will be even more so.
Two majestic cypress trees greet you as you drive up the lane and the sense of peace that you feel when you gaze around the surrounding hillsides is the epitome of why people love Tuscany. It’s like living in a fairy tale. Granted, mine has been filled with one or two ogres and some villainous poverty, but I certainly can’t begrudge others for following their hearts in the same way I did… and for achieving their happily ever after.
We toured the two story villa and took note of all the beautiful details. Maurizio who is Italian, but lived in the States for many years, detailed the amount of work that went into restoring this place pointing out the historic wooden beams, arched entrance ways, and windows designed to show off 360 degree views. His tales of dealing with one of their neighbors who is a well established wine maker in Montepulciano were quite entertaining. Their neighbor has gone out of his way to make their life miserable as they’ve been conducting the work on their property. Jenny who is five months pregnant is running the operations side of the agriturismo and preparing for their first guests in April. She has spent an inordinate amount of time picking out tiles, designing the guests rooms, and seeing to all the details which make the place feel comfortable and homey. The swimming pool is just about finished and the landscaping will be done in another month or so.
I brought some cinnamon buns and Jenny served coffee and tea. We had a fun chat about life in Montepulciano, with everyone sharing their horror stories of dealing with the Italian bureaucracy, which included everything from rants about the post office (to which I could relate), banking, electricity, even the toll roads. It was all said in the spirit of people who have made this place their home and have learned over time to have PAZIENZA. Janet, who is emphatic in all of her assertions about Tuscany having lived here for 25 years, did cause a small pause in the conversation when she told us with some certainty that the Pope was gay.
Maurizio, who has recently completed a sommelier course and is quite knowledgeable about wine, invited us to taste a local vin santo. It was after the second glass of the delicious vino that I realized when he’d said 18% alcohol, I should have taken heed. I was more than a little tipsy on the ride home. The most exciting part of the day was learning that Jenny and I have the same taste in fiction, with both of us enjoying English mysteries, etc. She sent me home with two books. For those of you who have been reading along with my quest to find English reading material here, you’ll appreciate how happy I was to tuck into one on these last night!
I love that I keep meeting terrific people here and expanding my little circle of friends. I’m took some pictures of Jenny and Maurizio’s place, but I’m putting their website here too because they are so warm and wonderful that I want their business to be a success. http://www.simplytuscany.com/ And this is a short video clip of Montepulciano, which includes some nice shots of Jenny and Maurizio’s place. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q6QU3gqocis