Dinner in a vineyard!

Ilene and Gary were invited to a dinner in a vineyard and asked if would like to come along. Of course! The winery is located outside San Miniato, a small town about an hour from Lucca, so we decided to spend the night there so that we could enjoy the dinner without the concerns of a longish drive home. The town is long, narrow, and perched on a hill. We enjoyed lunch then wandered through the town. I usually research towns before heading there, but I focused mostly on the winery, so was pleasantly surprised to find a beautiful seminary, cathedral, and tower. And the views of the Tuscan landscape!

The seminary was started in 1650 and continually expanded until 1713. The exterior has beautiful fresco, including 30 sets of religious “mottos” (not quite scripture quotes). I was particularly pleased to find a sign that had the translations of these mottos in four languages, including English. I can imagine that the students spent time outside memorizing each and contemplating the meaning of them.

The Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta e San Genesio required quite a climb, but was well worth it. The exterior is quite plain but the interior art, architecture, and marble are beautiful – and the ceiling is gorgeous! While inside the Cathedral, we realized that the walls were fake marble (or should I say “Faux Finish”) but while reading about the Cathedral I learned that the columns are also fake. I also read “On the 22 July 1944, an artillery shell from the United States military went through the church via the rose window on the southern side of the transept, and exploded in the right aisle, killing 55 people. The cathedral was full of citizens who had been gathered in the churchyard by the Germans.” So sad! Next time, I’ll remember to research the towns properly BEFORE heading there…

The Cathedral was quite a climb, so I skipped the next climb up to the Rocca di Federico II. Jim took my camera with him and took some beautiful pictures of the tower and the countryside. This tower served as a lookout to watch those moving between Florence and Pisa. During World War II German soldiers detonated charges inside and it was destroyed. It was rebuilt in 1958.

Time for the dinner that we had traveled here for! The vineyard is called Pietro Beconcini Agricola. They grow several types of traditional Tuscan grapes but also Tempranillo, a Spanish grape. After owning the property for about 7 years, the owner still couldn’t identify some of the grapes on his property. A DNA analysis showed that it was Tempranillo. The thinking is that a pilgrim from Spain left some seeds on the property as they traveled the nearby via Francigena path. Because the grapes were growing nicely on his property, he decided to plant additional Tempranillo vines. They now sell three wines made from Tempranillo – Fresco Di Nero (an Early Harvest wine), IXE (their mid-priced wine) and Vigna Le Nicchie (their Prephylloxera wine). Jim is always hunting for Prephylloxera wine, so this made him very happy!

The Festa Del Tempranillo was held for three nights, with some of the tables set up within the vineyards. We each received a glass of the three Tempranillo wines and typical Tuscan food, including some some slices of Bistecca alla Fiorentina. The wine, food, live music and beautiful setting made for an exceptional evening.

Special thanks to Jim and Ilene Modica for sharing some of their pictures with me for this blog post. I suggest that you check out Ilene and Gary’s blog at Our Italian Journey. She’ll be posting about our trip to San Miniato and the dinner… and I’m sure that you’d enjoy reading a different version of the same story!

13 thoughts on “Dinner in a vineyard!

  1. What a wonderful post and information! Who knew standing in the Cathedral that it had such history from 1944? It’s true, we need to research beforehand to better understand what we are looking at when visiting a city. It was an amazing getaway and we had a wonderful time, thank you both!

    • The views and setting were wonderful, but difficult to capture in pictures. A combination of natural beauty, expectation of harvest, joy of celebration after so many months of restrictions…

  2. We are always happy to hear of your many adventures. We are somehow (happily) Facebook friends with Derek and love that he will be going to Europe for a month. Hope you all have a wonderful time. Just a random question, will you get snow this winter and what are the temperatures there compared to Ohio in the different seasons? … Stay well and feel the love from Columbus, Sharon and Jeff

    On Sun, Sep 5, 2021 at 7:29 AM My Next Adventure wrote:

    > JLF posted: ” Ilene and Gary were invited to a dinner in a vineyard and > asked if would like to come along. Of course! The winery is located outside > San Miniato, a small town about an hour from Lucca, so we decided to spend > the night there so that we could enjoy the di” >

    • Yes, we are looking forward to seeing Derek in Italy!

      So the temperatures here… a bit hotter than Virginia and Ohio. July and August are too hot (for me) in both Virginia and Lucca, but it is harder to ignore here. Our apartment has air conditioning, but it isn’t central air conditioning. You turn it on/off on a room by room basis and many people don’t use it at all. We walk a lot more here, so we are just outside a lot more frequently. This summer we had temperatures well into the 90s and even 100 for weeks at a time.

      The winters are also warmer here than in Virginia and certainly Ohio! In Virginia we had snow every year – nothing like Ohio – but it would snow 5-7 times a year, with one or two bigger snows of up to a foot. Occasionally more. But again, it was fairly easy to ignore. We just worked from home and it melted in a few days. It seldom snows here. Maybe once every 2-4 years. Everyone freaks out, takes a million pictures then it melts. Last winter I wore a medium weight jacket with a sweater and the ubiquitous scarf and was quite comfortable. Again, more time walking places outside than in the States. My memories of Ohio is that it would get cold in October and not warm up again until April. Brrrr!


  3. Pingback: Tempranillo Wine Festival – Dinner in a Vineyard! - Our Italian Journey

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