After Florence, we drove back to Anghiari through the Chianti country. We did the same trip with David and Edith last month, but it is completely different now. The colors are different, more gold than green, the grapes are all gone – being made into wine that we will drink in a few years. The grape leaves are turning a warm yellow instead of the vibrant green from a month ago. It’s beautiful both ways and I’m glad we got to see them both. The change of seasons is a wonderful thing – it reminds us that change is a necessary part of life and finding the beauty in it is how we move forward.
It will come as no surprise that we stopped for lunch at one of our favorite restaurants in the wine country – the same place we went with David and Edith. A little village near Greve in Chianti called Montefioralle. The restaurant is called Taverna del Guerrino and it has an outdoor seating area that overlooks the Chianti countryside. It’s the trifecta of restaurants – great food, great view, and great wine.
We also visited an Italian garden, one of Myra’s wishes. We went to Villa Gamberaia near Florence. We’ve been there a couple of times and love it, and thought it would be just the thing to satisfy Myra’s Italian garden desire. It’s a classic Italian villa with beautiful gardens and a killer view of Florence. There’s a formal boxwood garden that has fountains and paths that ends at the edge of the hill and has an unbelievable view of the Tuscan countryside and Florence. There’s a “bowling alley” that is a great narrow expanse of grass that Millie loved running up and down. We let her off here leash and she ran like she hasn’t been able to do in many weeks.
We stopped at a winery on the way back and had the most wonderful experience with the vintner. We just pulled over at random at a sign for a winery and drove up just as the late afternoon sun was casting long shadows across the vineyards. They had a little dog that Millie became fast friends with and the two of them had a great time playing in the yard. The winery was Poggi del Chianti and was in Cavriglia, near Radda in Chianti. If you’re ever in the area, I would recommend stopping in. Mirko, the owner and fourth generation vintner, greeted us and explained his wine and olive oil to us. He’s trying to carry on a tradition in a world that makes it increasingly difficult to do so. Large companies really have the advantage in wine making and people like Mirko have a hard time competing. We talked to him for a while and his passion for what he does was evident. He was not willing to compromise on anything, even if it meant making more money for his business. To him, the most important things were the quality and dedication to tradition. He also explained to us how difficult it is to make a living as a small boutique winery in a country where there is so much wine produced. Being the daughter of a farmer, I could relate to this. My father was a born farmer – he loved everything about it. He wasn’t educated, but he was intelligent and could have done many things in his life, but he followed his passion. He was happy and anyone knew him, knew that about him.
We bought some wine and olive oil from Mirko and left thinking about how life presents you with choices almost every day and it’s up to you to decide which path to pursue. It’s not that every big winery that produces large quantities are bad – in fact, many are quite good. It’s just that sometimes it’s not about making a lot of money or being well known, but more about the principles and passions that guide you. That night we opened a bottle and toasted Mirko for his great wine and his wonderful spirit. And I thought about my father.