Updated: Sep 6, 2019
After a peaceful sleep we wake to the sounds of the estate. Birds chirping their wake up song, workers beginning there long day of tending to the vineyard, and the quiet meow of the resident gatto "cat". Seriously, I could say here for weeks!
We take a five minute walk down ancient stone steps and a gravel walkway shadowed by olive trees then pop out at the breakfast house. What an amazing spread of breakfast goodies. Eggs three ways, toast, fresh fruit of every kind, pastries, juice, locally cured meats & handcrafted cheeses, We pile up our plates as to not miss out on anything and order duo "two" cappuccino's.
We sit on the patio soaking in the sun kissed hills and slowing prepare for the day ahead. The time has come to for our tour of the grounds and winery.
We meet our group in the tasting room. The tour begins with a brief history of the Villa Vignamaggio.
The noble Tuscan Gherardini family move to Vignamaggio in the 1302.
The first document, testament to the presence of winemaking at Vignamaggio, is drawn up in 1404. The document is known as Amidio Gherardini’s Parchment of 1404.
In 1479 Monna Lisa Gherardini is born. It is believed that Leonardo da Vinci got his inspiration for the background of his famed painting "The Mona Lisa" from a terrace on the estate. This famed terrace is known as the "Monna Lisa Terrace". You have to love history!
The winery tour is fascinating. During the tour we see more influences from Leonardo da Vinci.
The wine barrels have these glass contraptions on top. They are an invention by Da Vinci which allow gasses to escape without allowing air into the barrel. Uniquely Italiano.
After touring the winery we are seated at a large round table for the tastings. We sit and visit with our group and drink wine and eat a platter of meats and cheeses. We are now full and happy and ready for a pool plunge.
We lay out our towels on our chaise lounge and dive into the cool refreshing water. Swimming over to the edge we stare out over the vinyard and try to imagine the view 700 years ago.
We booked a reservation at a lovely restaurant for dinner. La Cantinetta di Rignana is a remote restaurant in Rignana, Chianti,
See map: La Cantinetta Di Rignana
We decide to hire a driver to take us and pick us up so we can enjoy a bottle of wine and not worry about the driving. So glad we did, as I doubt we could have found this restaurant on our own. Our driver is familiar with this restaurant and he eagerly gives us ordering advice. We arrive to find a 10th century stone building with a lovely dining room. From our seats we take in the view of the vineyards and olive groves.
After ordering our wine we choose the marinated artichokes for our starter. Still warm and fresh we leave no evidence of their existence.
We order the porcini ravioli for our primo.
Our driver instructed Michael to order nothing but the steak and potatoes, "do not eat the pasta!" but he could not resist one little artichoke and a single ravioli.
Bistecca alla Fiorentina is traditionally a1 kilogram perfectly aged T-bone steak. Our driver was providing a strategy for consuming 2.5 lbs of beef in a single sitting. Even with the "do not eat the pasta" strategy the 2.5 lbs was a bit overwhelming. Bucking tradition Michael negotiated for a 700g steak. To play it safe he also opted out on the potatoes.
Michael chooses his cut of meat for the steak Florentine. The kitchen is filled with large slabs of meat waiting to be grilled to perfection. Michael's steak is presented on a large wooden platter for approval. He approves and rubs his hands together in anticipation. I order the pork ribs and we wait for the pasta.
As my ravioli arrives we watch as two young men enter the restaurant with their father. They know their wine and order a bottle. We sit in awe as we watch this trio devour a large platter of meat and cheese and roasted vegetables. As I gingerly pick at my ravioli, for fear of eating too much, these men choose their steaks and order three separate pasta dishes. My stomach just hurts from watching!
When our main dishes arrive it brings smiles to our faces. I am skeptical that Michael can eat the entire steak, but I give him the benefit of doubt. Our trio of diners have managed to annihilate their pasta course and I tell them we are quite in awe of their ability to eat. One of them responds with, "yes, when we are through they just roll us home." So another bottle of wine is ordered up to for the anticipation of their steaks.
Michael's steak arrives.
Michael is humming with delight as he cuts into his steak. "it's like butter", he says and places a forkful of meat into his mouth.
My pork ribs arrive.
They are perfectly cooked and seasoned. The exterior is crunchy with the remaining fat perfectly rendered. These are by far the best pork ribs I have ever eaten. Almost no seasoning is added just olive oil and salt and pepper. I am trying to cut the meat from the bone when the waitress comes over and gently suggests I pick them up with my hands and eat right off the bone. "I know you are a lady, madame, but these are to be eaten with the hands, just a suggestion, but it is the way", she says. Putting my manners aside I oblige and gnaw the meat from the bone.
To my amazement, Michael consumes his entire steak. With a nugget of space available for dessert we order the house specialty for our dolce,
Panna cotta with strawberries.
Light and smooth the dessert quickly vanishes. To complete our meal we are brought two bottles of "digestives". Limoncini and Grappa. Our waitress tells us to drink all we like, can you imagine this ritual in the US?
Our driver arrives to take us back to the villa and we say our goodbyes to our fellow diners and staff. Such a fantastic meal and experience.