Giacomo Baraldo is a passionate winemaker from San Casciano dei Bagni (SI). What is a Vigneron? Vigneron is French. It derives from the word “vigne” which means grape vine. It is a person who cultivates grapes for winemaking.
Giacomo makes wine from his own grapes… He is a Vigneron!
As a student of oenology Giacomo already started producing wine. After intensive experiences and completing his wine bachelor of science degree in oenology Giacomo became a professional winemaker.
He has a passion for making fabulous wines. He worked hard and didn’t stop until he achieved what he wanted… being one of the most greatest winemakers in the world!
Giacomo is a native Tuscan. He travelled around the world to discover the winemaking industry. He visited some of the best wineries in France.
France is the country of the most finest and expensive wines. For wine studies France is the country to learn the secrets of quality wine making. For a taste of fine work, training and educational programs Giacomo headed to Bordeaux (Margaux), Graves and Burgundy. All prestigieus wine regions in France.
Winemakers and wine growers in France taught him everything about wine and winemaking. In Burgundy he got to know the basics with white wine.
San Casciano dei Bagni (SI)
Giacomo lives with his family in San Casciano dei Bagni. San Casciano dei Bagni is a medieval town located in the southern border of Siena.
San Casciano dei Bagni
The village is known for its natural outdoor thermal springs and roman baths. The thermal waters contain sulphur, calcium and fluorides. A perfect opportunity to relax for FREE all year!
Tuscany is a region best known for it’s Sangiovese-based dry red wines. In San Casciano dei Bagni the family Baraldo owns about 3,5 ha of vineyards for the production of red and white wines.
They make red IGT as well as white wine: Grechetto, Chardonnay, Malvasia and Trebbiano.
Giacomo works together with the Greystone winery in Waipara valley, New Zealand. Here he put his knowledge of wine making into practice.
In Waipara valley Giacomo buys Pinot Noir grapes from vine growers. He makes his own premium quality wine from Pinot Noir grapes.
Pinot Noir Giacomo Baraldo Vigneron
Pinot Noir Giacomo Baraldo Vigneron
The front label of the wine bottle shows the Kiwi. And on the back label is the following tekst written:
Contains 100% of Pinot Noir Contains 100% of my work Contains 100% of my passion
In many wine shops in Italy you can purchase the Pinot Noir wines from Giacomo Baraldo. Even in Montepulciano!
With friends in restaurant Daniela
For our lunch in restaurant Daniela we ordered the Pinot Noir wine from New Zealand: 2018 18,5 K Pinot Noir Giacomo Baraldo Vigneron. The wine was not filtered and not fined.
By holding the glass the wine has a pale red color with charming red fruits of cherries, wild strawberries, pomegranates, coffee, cacao and herbaceous.
A special wine with an elegant texture. It is a great wine to pair with antipasti misti and pasta dishes.
Pappardelle al ragù di cinta senese bianca
Millefoglie con crema chantilly, fragole e panna
There is the romance and tradition with the classical cork. Almost all Italian wines have a cork.
New Zealand is a young and innovative wine country. New Zealand wine is sealed with screw caps. Whether they are cheap wines or among the best bottles in the country.
The family Baraldo owns and operaties restaurant Daniela in San Casciano dei Bagni. The restaurant serve local Tuscan cuisine. It’s not just a restaurant, it is a place where besides the good food, you will get good service and good wine.
Ristorante Daniela is a unique experience and really recommended. Siete i benvenuti!
Address: Piazza Matteotti 6, 53049 San Casciano dei Bagni (Siena)
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.
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!
Here’s my story and a selection of images showing my quarantaine life in Montepulciano.
March 18 2020
My first face mask bought in the local pharmacy of Montepulciano.
At home in Montepulciano
March 21 2020
Prime Minister Conte announce the shut down of non-essential factories and that more severe measures are necessary due to the increasing number of coronavirus deaths.
All pharmacies, supermarkets, banks and public transportation will continue to remain open in Italy.
“Stiamo distanti oggi, per abbracciarci con più calore domani”.
Prime Minister Conte
March 26 2020
“Ai tempi del coronavirus restiamo a casa.” means: During the coronavirus outbreak we stay at home.
At home in Montepulciano
At home in Montepulciano
March 31 2020
“Musica che unisce”. Music makes people feel (more) connected. This virtual concert on Italian TV featured many famous musicians and singers including Andrea Bocelli, Irene Grandi, Diodato (winner San Remo 2020), Tiziano Ferro and many more.
Musica che unisce
April 12 2020
Eastern in Italy.
Eastern San Pietro
Easter mass in empty’s Sint Pieter church in Rome. “May God stop this tragedy, stop this pandemic,” the pope prayed.
My aperitivo used to be the highlight of my day. Another day has passed. So.. a good occasion to celebrate!
Virtual wine tasting
The Coronavirus made a Zoom boom generation. If you wanted to participate to a virtual wine tasting, meetings, yoga lessons or you just wanted to see friends and relatives it had to be on screen.
“In the times of a pandemic, when you cannot fly out to experience new cities, a virtual wine tour with Sylvia is what I needed. Her knowledge on the wine and history, her story telling and live videos of Montepulciano made me feel, like I was in Italy for a brief moment. Loved it! Thank you, Sylvia!”
Quarantaine pack from Holland
April 27 2020
I got some Dutch delicacies from close friends of mine.
Hagelslag (chocolate sprinkles), stroopwafels (caramel biscuits), cheese, drop (liquorice), caramel fudge … all yummy!
Together with the local products they have sent me wonderful CD’s from one of my favorite Russian conductors Valery Gergiev. I have seen Gergiev several times conducting the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra in De Doelen.
One of my best memories ever is the Tsjaikovski’s violin concert with Janine Jansen and Gergiev.
Pictures of Tuscany after the lockdown
Pictures of Montepulciano just after the nationwide lockdown of two months when Italy opened its borders.
The impact of coronavirus on daily life is enormously. Many people have lost their jobs, small business, some restaurants have closed.
We must stay alert and safe (social distancing). In supermarkets it is still obligatory to wear a face mask and to clean your hands.
During the coronavirus pandemic it is safely to run. I do solo running. Three times a week I plan my runnings.
Pici pasta are thick homemade spaghetti. In Italy it is a first course. The pasta is also known as Pici Senesi. They are originally from southern Tuscany around Siena. Hence the name Pici Senesi.
In Montalcino they are called “i pinci”. Montalcino is a hill town and comune in the province of Siena.
It is not difficult to make fresh pasta i pici. Still me, as a foreigner in Italy, I am not used working with flour and water. I don’t have the technique of pasta making, unfortunately. I prepare more easy, healthy and quick meals.
The ingredients of the pasta dough for i pici are simple: flour, water and olive oil.
With your hands flat you roll the pasta from the center outwards.
Pici is a fat and rough pasta. There are many varieties to choose among i pici:
Pici all’aglione –tomato and garlic sauce- Pici ragù –meat sauce- Pici al ragù d’anatra –duck sauce-
In supermarkets you can buy fresh pici. The pici from the supermarkets are delicious as well. I eat them often with “ai frutti di mare” (fish) or with fresh made Pesto Genovese.
Of course fresh pasta tastes better, but with a little creativity and flexibility you can make the best pasta dishes at home!
Restaurant La Solita Zuppa
The owners of restaurant La Solita Zuppa are Andrea with his wife Lorella Casagni. Andrea is a top chef and sommelier. La Solita Zuppa is a Slow Food restaurant in Chiusi città, the old town.
La Solita Zuppa offers traditional dishes. On the menu you can choose from many pasta dishes with typical and local ingredients.
Every morning they make their own fresh pasta. When I visited La Solita Zuppa Andrea had prepared the pasta dough for me to roll out.
It was a nice thing to do! For a moment I felt like an Italian “mamma” with many pasta making experience.
Having dinner at restaurant La Solita Zuppa is perfect for an evening of typical Tuscan plates. The atmosphere is cosy. The service is friendly and professional.
The dishes they offer are delicious and based on its long history and location. And if you love wine you should check out their wine list. Most of the wines are local and match excellent with the food they serve.
After weeks of lockdown they have opened their restaurant since May 27. It is recommended to make a reservation in advance. La Solita Zuppa is closed on Tuesdays.
La Solita Zuppa is famous for their Lampredotto sandwich. Lampredotto is a local Tuscan street food specialty. It is the fourth stomach of the cow. Tuscany has a tradition of eating internal organs. They use these organs to create delicious dishes with a strong and spicy flavor.
Personally I don’t like Lampredotto. It has a rich fatty texture.
But the tradition of food is important for the locals. It is a way of life and history. Most of the people in Tuscany love eating Lampredotto.
Chiusi is near Montepulciano. In a relaxing countryside sits the ancient city of Chiusi. It is situated on a hill overlooking the Val di Chiana valley and the Umbrian hills.
Chiusi città is the old town and Chiusi Scalò is the modern area.
The story of the Tuscan town Chiusi is closely linked to the Etruscans. In every corner you can breathe in the Etruscan presence and there are many details that refer to king Porsenna.
The burial place of the legendary Etruscan king Porsenna would have been beneath the town of Chiusi. As we know now, the underground routs, the labyrinths, were part of a water supply system dug by the Etruscans.
Chiusi is an appreciated city by visitors. In the ancient town you find a number of historical and archeological sites. One of the most interesting museums to visit is the “National Archeological Museum”: Museo Nazionale Etrusco. The museum reconstructs the history of Chiusi and its territory through numerous finds from the Iron Age to the Lombard age.
It is one of the most important museums in Italy for its knowledge of Etruscan art.
How do I reach Chiusi
There are different ways to get to Chiusi. By car and by train. Chiusi Scalò is an important train station. Operated by Trenitalia, from Rome and Florence are several train services.
It is very easy to find a taxi in Chiusi Scalò. There are also busses that take you from the station to the centre of Chiusi.
One of my favorite gelateria in Chiusi Scalo is Green Bar in Via Cassia Aureli I, 107. This gelateria is at walking distance from the train station.
Lago di Chiusi
Chiusi’s Lake is only 5 minutes drive from the centre of Chiusi città. You can bike and hike in this wonderful nature area. For food lovers I recommend restaurant Pesce d’Orco. They offer traditional fish “pesce di lago brustico” from the Etruscan civilization. Yummy!
Every year in September is a run and walk around the lake: Giro Lago di Chiusi. It is a 18k run. A nice run experience! And if you don’t run you might participate to the organized walk.