When I was invited by ItalyTraveller.com for a weekend spent exploring a new corner of Tuscany, I immediately imagined the winding streets and charming storefronts of a quiet Tuscan village – and Montisi didn’t disappoint.
On a sunny Spring day we drove through the Val di Chiana, the hills a bright jolly-rancher green from a week of rain.
Is there any better way to get to know a new town than by way of a wine and cheese tasting? We were welcomed to Montisi by Antonella of Vitis Vinifera, a wine and cheese lover’s heaven, with arched stone cielings and a cool wine cellar stocked with a curated selection of amzing Italian wines.
I can’t imagine a better escape on a hot summer’s day than into the cool and inviting Vitis Vinifera for a relaxing afternoon of wine tasting. Antonella is as passionate as she is knowledgable about every aspect of the respective arts of wine and cheese tasting. We tasted local varities of Ricotta, Stracchino, and Pecorino, paired impeccably by Antonella with wines to bring out the delecate soft notes in the Ricotta, or the strong rich flavors of the Pecorino.
While I’m a huge fan of Pecorino, my heart belongs to Gorgonzola. Luckily for me the best was saved for last – a sweet Gorgonzola paired with a dessert wine!
If you add a stop in Montisi to your road trip through Tuscany, be sure to contact Antonella and Maurizio to organize a private wine tasting! Vitis Vinifera is by appointment only, which allows for an intimate, personalized experience.
Vitis Viniferahttp://www.vitisviniferamontisi.com/ Via Umberto I, 97/A – 53020 Montisi (SI) (+39) 0577 845108 email@example.com
Thouroughly enamored with Montisi thanks to Antonella’s warm welcome, we made plans to explore the town more in depth the next day.
Wandering the streets of this quiet town that seemed to just be waking up from winter into the beautiful Spring that settled over Italy this year, we got to see a bit of what local life looks like.
Like so many villages throughout Tuscany, the history of Montisi streches back hundreds of years. It often found itself in the middle of wars between the powerful families of city states such as Siena and Florence. It has seen it’s share of war and poverty and yet somehow has stayed standing, retaining it’s own sense of local identity and pride.
Montisi is divided into five Contrade, or neighborhoods: Castello, Torre, Piazza, and San Martino. Like Calcio Storico in Florence and the Palio of Siena, every year there is a competition between the Contrade. In Montisi the competition is called La Giostra del Simone, and horse-mounted “knights” take turns lancing a target for the prize of a painted banner and a year of bragging rights.
The prosperity of the second half of the 20th century was good to Montisi as olive oil and wine production in the Sienese countrysdie brought “foreign” Italians to settle in the area. Tourists also began to seek out quieter spots to relax outside of the crowded larger cities, and Montisi is now a peaceful but lively town. There are shops, artists’ workshops, and even a music school.
One of Montisi’s claims to fame is the smallest theatre in Europe – the charming and intimate space with just 70 seats pictured above.
If you’ve spent any time in Italy or spoken for more than five minutes with an Italian, the topic of local identity and pride should be familiar to you. It’s a defining feature of every corner and street of Italy that I’ve visited so far.
Italians are fiercely loyal to their region over their country, their city over their region, and in many cases their neighborhood over their city. Does this create a fractured and miopic political landscpae? Sure, but it also creates a place like Montisi that has resisted the tides of history to thrive today as a beautiful town full of welcoming locals living out their passion for food, wine, and the arts. I guess they must be doing something right!
I was a guest at Vitis Vinifera in Montisi, but all opinions are my own!