In this challenging time doing some sports are good. Running outside is what I do daily. I want to stay fit. Physically and mentally.
While running face masks are not required, fortunately. It is safe to run outside in Montepulciano. Fresh air benefits in many ways!
Montepulciano is a hill town. It is located at an altitude of 600 m above sea level. I know that running on hills builds muscle strength. In this period I do nothing else than running uphill and downhill.
Running here is amazing. But I don’t always enjoy training through the vineyards. Hill running is tough. Honestly I hate hills.
I usually train on a flat surface in Valiano. Valiano is a small town in the Comune of Montepulciano. To get there I need to take my car. Obviously the way we live now it isn’t allowed. We may only leave our home for work, necessity and health reasons.
The situation leave me no choice but hill running.
The days are getting shorter and the average temperature drops. It is autumn. Biking conditions are still excellent in Tuscany, but not for me. I think my bike will be stock until 2021. Not for being lazy, I just prefer to bike in warmer weather conditions.
Time flies. Everybody goes through difficult times. Almost a year has passed. Soon we will celebrate Christmas again.
Clearly the holidays will be different this year. The Christmas markets are cancelled in Italy. I don’t know if Montepulciano will have a Christmas tree for us to see.
Campania is a wonderful wine region in southern Italy. It has an old wine tradition. It was one of the most famous wine regions of the Romans.
The vineyards in Campania are mostly inland, not directly along the coast. The soils are influenced by volcanism.
It were the Greeks who introduced Vitis Vinifera in Campania. Grapes such as Greco di Tufo, Aglianico and Falanghina have all Greek origins. But, it were the Romans who introduced the wines from Campania everywhere in the world.
Naples is the capital city of the Campania region. It is Italy’s third largest city. I know “Napule” quite well. I have wonderful memories of Naples. In 2003 I’ve stayed a month in this unique city to learn the Italian language. It was great fun spending the Summer there!
Winery Villa Matilde
The wine tasting in Campania was in the winery Villa Matilde in Cellole in the province Caserta close to Benevento. 80 km drive from Naples.
The family Avellone is the owner of Villa Matilde. It is a three generation family wine business.In the sixties Francesco Paolo Avellone started with re-planting of old vines. He had a passion for ancient historical wines. With his new wine projects he gained support from local farmers and friends.
The vineyards of Villa Matilde are in the limestone massif Mount Massico, the Roccamonfina volcano. Today daughter Maria Ida and son Salvatore are responsible for the production of their wines.
In the wine shop we had a lovely wine tasting. We didn’t visit the vineyards. But it was a nice experience. Maria is really a wonderful host!
The wines in Campania are produced by Italian autochtone – unique grape varieties, such as Falanghina, Aglianico, Piedirosso, Fiano and Greco. The Agliano grape is cultivated everywhere in Campania. Aglianico is one of the great grapes of Italy. The wines made from Agliano are full bodied. It is worth a try!
The grape variety Falanghina is an important white grape in Falerna del Massico. It is born from ancient vines by the Greeks about 3000 years ago.Falerno del Massico DOC is the modern Falernum with whites from Falanghina.
The extinct Roccamonfina volcano contributes volcanic soils to Villa Matilde and the other Falerno del Massico regions vineyards. The taste of the wine is fresh and mineral. Very pleasant to drink. It is one of my favorite white wines!
They also produce a wonderful rosato wine made from 100% Aglianico grapes.
Amy and David are friends of mine from the US. They live in an apartment in Vomero. A chic neighborhood just outside the city centre of Naples. It is a wonderful location. The views over the Gulf of Naples and the Vesuvius are amazing!
I met Amy and David at the Wine and Food Experience in Montepulciano last year. They work at the United States Navy base. Tuscany wines are their favorites. As soon as they can they come to Montepulciano to get some Vino Nobile and Brunello bottles to bring home!
Together with people from the United Stated Navy base we did a cooking class. Two ladies from Naples prepared delicious local dishes for us. We were allowed to watch or even to help them!
Antipasto: mignon mozzarella di bufala, bruschette with cherry-tomatoes and basilicum, local cheeses and cold cuts
Primo piatto: pasta with pumpkin, pancetta and ricotta salata
Secondo piatto: stuffed involtini with white wine sauce
Contorno: garden peppers with black olives
Dessert: almond cake
Wine: “Falerno del Massico DOC” from Villa Matilde; Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG 2017 from Gattavecchi.
Virtual wine tasting
The best way to discover the Italian culture obviously is through the wine! Sign up for the Sylvia Italy’s virtual wine tasting.
Between San Quirico d’Orcia and Pienza is the Chapel of the Madonna di Vitaleta. It is an amazing territory, declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Chapel of the Madonna di Vitaleta is a tall bright building surrounded by cypress trees.
How to get there
To visit the chapel by car you need to follow a dirt road until you reach a free parking place. From the parking place it is 10 minutes walking to the chapel. The chapel can also be reached by a hiking trail through the hills.
Spring 2020 | Val d’Orcia Tuscany
The surrounding landscape is really awesome. The rolling hills of the Val d’orcia offer an incredible sight. It is one of the most wonderful places in Tuscany!
The chapel was built around 1550. The “Capella della Madonna di Vitaleta” used to be the home of the Madonna sculpture made by the artist Andrea della Robbia. The chapel was restored in 1884 and the statue was moved to the Church of San Francesco in San Quirico d’Orcia where it can be seen today.
Spring 2020 | Chapel of the Madonna di Vitaleta
San Quirico is a small and nice hill town in Tuscany.
San Quirico d’Orcia Tuscany
The chapel is locked, you cannot go inside. It is private property. The facade is decorated with stone from Rapolano and a small rose window.
The Chapel of the Madonna di Vitaleta is one of the most photographed locations of Tuscany. I have visited the Capella della Madonna di Vitaleta two times within the last months. Last spring, just after the lockdown and today September 20.
September 2020 Chapel of the Madonna di Vitaleta
September 2020 Chapel of the Madonna di Vitaleta
I am determined to visit the chapel again, perhaps accompanied by a good red wine in the neighboring fields.
September 2020 | il Convento Rosso di Montepulciano DOC
Alberto Giorgi is a local farmer and a small producer of aglione. He grows fruit, vegetables and aglione -garlic- in the Valdichiana valley. His farms are located in Montepulciano and Chianciano.
Every Wednesday and Friday morning is a farmers’ market in Montallese. Alberto is always there with his market stall to sell fresh vegetables and fruits. His prices for the local food are good value for money!
Montallese is located in the province of Chiusi. It is a small village along the road.
Aglione is a giant garlic variety from the “Valdichiana Senese” area. The aglione is also called the “aglio del bacio” (kissing garlic). This garlic is mild, odourless and easy to digest.
The weight is about 50 gram to 1-2 kilos. But 1-2 kilos is more the exception rather than the rule.
Every year the seeds of the aglione (which are about 4-5 cm in size) are sown in September. The aglione bulbs are ready to harvest in June. Climate plays a crucial role at harvest time of the aglione. Many rainfall, pests and diseases can affect the garlic crop.
After the harvest time the garlic should be left out in the sun. The giant garlic is still green. Subsequently store your aglione in a dry and well ventilated place. You can last aglione for one year after it’s harvested, on the condition that the garlic is being kept in a dry and shady place.
Note: humidity can lead to damage of the aglione.
Flavor for foods
You can use aglione as a normal ingredient in all kinds of food dishes, such as sauces, dressings, vegetables, stews and meats.
The two most famous local pasta dishes from the Valdichiana are: Pici all’Aglione (pasta i pici with tomato-garlic sauce) and Pici con le Bricciole (pasta i pici with breadcrumbs).
This is excellent food you need to try when in Tuscany!