New Covid-19 measures in Italy: life in Montepulciano

New Covid-19 measures in Italy: life in Montepulciano

New Phase 2 measures in Italy

The Covid-19 measures in Italy are somewhat eased since early May. Restrictions on travel within the same region will be dropped on May 18. Shops, restaurants, hairdressers and bars are being allowed to reopen. Two weeks earlier than planned.

Movement in your own region is permitted. Without any “autocertificazione”. Finally we will be able to visit friends as long as they live in the same region.

Montepulciano

Both regional and international borders will open from June 3. The Italian government wants to allow travel between the regions and the Schengen countries. People will be permitted to enter Italy without any restrictions. Tourists can travel to Italy again. Awesome!

I am excited that things are getting back to normal. That gives me hope. As in the lockdown period it seemed impossible. But just the idea of having a fresh pizza with a huge beer in a trattoria makes me feel very happy.

Bars have already reopened for take-away service. I love an Italian coffee after lunch. Recently I got a take-away coffee at the Piazza Grande. The coffee was good and it was nice talking to the locals again. Nonetheless… nothing beats an Italian coffee ” al banco”.

Gatherings of large groups are still banned. Unfortunately some important summer events have been cancelled. For example Umbria Jazz in Perugia. The festival will return in 2021.

Wine business

Over de last few weeks I have been busy with setting up my wine business. I am working on a new online wine project. It is something that I have created together with a little help of my friends.

It will be a project with my own “Italian” identity. It is a personal investment in local wine. I find it a bit scary to invest in this period. We live in a difficult economic situation. But I must do something. And this is what I like too! I don’t know if I’ll have success but I keep up the good spirit.

vineyards in Montepulciano

Besides this new project I have published a new virtual wine experience page on my website. I organize from mid June free online wine tastings at the winery of Gattavecchi. Every Thursday and Sunday in the afternoon.

I will use the Zoom application for the virtual wine tastings. More information about this will be followed.

Running

I had a long period of knee problems. My right knee is doing much better. I go often by bike and I do my exercises to strengthen the muscles that support my knee. I am ready for a new running schedule. My trainer has sent me a new program for the upcoming two months. The priority is to restart. The runs are short and I have no idea how the results will be. But I am happy to start running again.

Virtual wine tasting

Last Saturday I had my first online Zoom wine tasting experience with a group of American people. I have a friend in NYC who organizes online meetings with friends. This time I was invited as a guest speaker.

Through the virtual wine tasting experience I showed two video’s of Montepulciano. I told the story of the winery and the wine Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. I enjoyed!

The meeting took about 1 hour. Talking to people on the other side of the world was great. A feeling of not being alone for a moment. I did this online wine tasting from my home in Montepulciano. Next time I’ll do the virtual tour in the winery.

Will I see you then?

Virtual wine tasting

Phase two in Italy and how to move on

Phase two in Italy and how to move on

Lockdown in Italy

Last week I have seen our Prime Minister Conte on TV saying that the measures will be more relaxed from May 4. What changes?

Prime Minister

Sometimes it’s a bit confusing for me to understand well Italy’s new rules. But in general I know what I may do and what is still prohibited.

We will still have difficult months ahead. To protect ourselves we must maintain social distancing, wear masks and gloves in supermarkets and shops.

Here a few new lockdown rules:

  • We may walk, bike or go for a run more than 200 metres from home. Totally my thing!
  • We may travel in our region. In my case: Tuscany.. not too bad.
  • We can visit relatives. Count me out. I have no relatives in Italy.
  • The parks and factories reopen. Ok with me.
  • And there will be take away food.
    Restaurants will offer pizza for take aways only. Yummy, finally a good pizza!

Pizza at Rosso Vivo

It is a small return to normalcy. But all with social distancing, masks and subject to local and regional rules.

On May 18 team sports can train again, museums, libraries and retail stores will reopen. Dining in restaurants from June 1 and reopening of bars, hairdressers and beauty centers.

My life in Montepulciano

The battery of my car is low. Today I have tried to start my car. It wasn’t easy as it sounds. Fortunately my neighbor and the *ACI were willing to help me to get this problem solved.

To give the battery a good charge they advised me to drive for at least 30 minutes. So I drove to Pienza and back to Montepulciano. It seemed everything normal, but it wasn’t. I was more than happy!

Road to Montepulciano

Luckily we have good weather in Tuscany. I am working on new wine projects -to be continued- and I do a lot of workouts at home. I didn’t stop tasting wines as well. I love my daily appetizer. I love wine.

As we are allowed now I went this afternoon for a short bike ride today: Montepulciano – Acquaviva – Montepulciano. This is my cycling route nearby my apartment. It’s about 20 km total downhill and uphill. A wonderful bike experience that I will repeat soon.

Cycling route

Visit Holland

In this period I should have been in Rotterdam for family matters, but my Transavia flight from Perugia to Rotterdam has been cancelled. My travel ticket is refunded.

May 4 is “Remembrance Day” in Holland. It’s a day when the Dutch can remember and commemorate the soldiers and civilians who died in WWII and other conflicts.

Tonight I saw one of my best friends in Rotterdam “Paul van de Laar” on the Dutch television (NOS website) about 75 years of liberation. He is director of Museum Rotterdam.

May 5 is liberation day. Another good friend of mine in Amsterdam has made an amazing website with images from Haarlem then (WWII) and Haarlem now. Take a look at this website.

I would like to go to Holland soon. Maybe when the phase three begins we can travel? I hope we can keep the virus down. Because if the curve sill start to increase again it will take much more longer before flights restart again… please no!

*ACI is the roadside assistance in Italy

At home in Montepulciano

At home in Montepulciano

Lockdown

As we all know people in Italy have been staying at home since 9 March. Schools, shops, restaurants, bars and many offices are closed. Since then I only go out for a good reason: grocery shopping. I live nearby the Conad grocery. It’s only 5 minutes walking.

Not only people but also cars are in lockdown. Like my car. The battery is low. I cannot even unlock the doors by pressing the button. Not that I have plans to drive but for getting some heavy stuff home from the supermarket a car will do well. I don’t know how to fix this problem though but every problem has a solution!

It’s a very strange and hard period. I am doing ok. At the very beginning I watched the press conference at the Rai24 station every day. Now I hardly see it anymore. For me it’s fine now to stay updated by reading some Tweet news from two Dutch journalists in Rome.

Walking

The last two days I was trying to get some walks and short runs nearby my house. I am allowed to do that only if I stay 200m away from home. I have run a piece with a face mask. It’s inconvenient. You can’t get fresh air. A face mask is not for runners. But in case the police stops me I have one with me.

I haven’t been fully recovered from my knee arthroscopy. My meniscus was very bad damaged because of the runnings. As doctor Ceppi told me so. I do my exercises every day to develop my leg muscles. It helps but it takes much longer to be back to my previous running shape. I guess..

Wine and Food

I didn’t stop tasting wines and eating good food during the lockdown. Honestly since we are at home I prepare more often delightful dishes for myself.

I am not disappointed about my cooking! But I am always struggling with a good Carbonara… any tip?

And yes I have good wines in my wine cellar. There’s no day without a good glass of wine. I do not only drink Sangiovese wines. As you might know Tuscany is known for it’s Sangiovese based wines.

To improve my palate I recently purchased some nice wines from winery Piandaccoli in Florence. They make excellent Chardonnay-Malvasia and Rosé wines. These wines pair well with fish dishes, antipasti and pasta.

Home

In Holland we say every disadvantage has it’s vantage. That’s true. I got to know new neighbors since I am at home. They are lovely people. We got friends. This is wonderful. I can’t wait to have a dinner or an appetizer with them. Hopefully soon!

I also started studying my WSET level 3 wine exam. Every time when I read new things about wine I realize that I love the world of wines. It is interesting to discover new wines from all over the world. Knowing more about different grape varieties, how wines are made and how they might taste. I hope to be well prepared for the upcoming lessons and wine tastings.

And the good news is, I am working on a new wine project. A friend of mine suggested me to realize a new wine adventure now the tourism in Tuscany is shut down. An awesome idea! It is a lot of work, but I like it. I see this as a new career opportunity for myself with a lot of possibilities for Sylvia Italy in the nearby future.

Stay tuned!

WSET

WSET

The Wine & Spirit Education Trust, WSET, provides education and qualifications in wines for professionals and enthusiasts. Level 2 Award in Wines is an intermediate level qualification.

During the course we studied about wines, grape varieties of the world, the regions in which they are grown and the styles of wine they produce.

Through a combination of (a lot) wine tasting and theory we explored the quality, the style and how to describe the wines.

Emily O’ Hare

Our teacher for WSET level 2 is Emily O’Hare. Emily is wine writer, sommelier and she teaches WSET courses in Tuscany. Originally she’s from London but is now based in Siena.

Review

I personally enjoyed the wine study and the courses with Emily. We had a lovely group. Some participants were from my FISAR Sommelier course and some people were new. It was a nice experience and definitely a do thing. I look forward to start soon with WSET level 3.

Diploma

I got my classification! I passed my exam. Result 94% and Grade Pass with distinction. Now I have two wonderful certificates, FISAR Sommelier and WSET level 2 Award in Wines.

I still need to learn a lot more about wines. But I have a lot of interest and I am passionate about wine. I live in a wine growing area and I work in the tourism and wine business.

The best is yet to come!

Olive oil mill in Montepulciano

Olive oil mill in Montepulciano

Il Frantoio di Montepulciano

Frantoio means olive oil mill or olive oil press. Many olive oil producers rely on an external frantoio. Il Frantoio di Montepulciano is established in Montepulciano and counts 600 members. It is a farmers cooperative that supply members various services for the production of extra virgin olive oil.

Olive oil production in Siena

The olive groves are cultivated in the province of Siena. The gently rolling hills around Montepulciano are suitable for cultivating olive groves. The altitude of the hills are about 300-650 m above sea level.

In the province of Siena are many small producers who cultivate olive trees. The farmers take care of the plants by pruning and harvesting for having good olive oil every year.

After harvesting by hand or with mechanical shakers the farmers bring the olives in boxes to the olive mill “frantoio”. 

The olives are washed to remove dirt. When ready, the olives will be crushed and pressed cold (26-28 degrees) in a modern machine.

Thanks to the cold press the olives keep their properties for a high quality extra virgin olive oil.

After the extraction of the oil, the olive oil will be soon packed in bottles, cans or in small tins.

Different types of olive oil

Il Frantoio di Montepulciano produces different types of high quality olive oil. Olive oil extra virgin from il Frantoio di Montepulciano is obtained from the olive varieties Leccino, Frantoio and Moraiolo.

Olio extra virgin di Oliva 100% Italiano

Oil produced with a range of traditional Tuscan olive varieties and other Italian olives (Puglia). This extra virgin olive oil presents a bitter taste.

Olio extra virgin di Oliva DOP Terre di Siena

DOP (Protected Designation of Origin) guarantees the area of production and qualitative characteristics of the olives. Olio extra virgin di Oliva DOP Terre di Siena is a very high quality olive oil.

The olive oil is green in colour. It has a strong taste. An excellent olive oil for dressings.

Olio extra virgin di Oliva IGP Toscano

IGP (Protected Geographical Indication) is similar to DOP. IGP olive oil extra virgin is obtained with olives grown in Tuscany. This oil is quality guaranteed.

Olio extra virgin di Oliva Biologico

Organic extra virgin olive oil is olive oil produced following the European regulation on organic production and labeling on organic products. The olive oil must be obtained from locally grown organic olives. These olives are not treated by chemicals.

This organic oil has a smooth flavor and a soft taste. 

Information olive oil

All products mentioned above have different flavors. But the fresher the oil is, the better it tastes. Above all extra virgin olive oil is rich in antioxidants and consumption of olive oil may benefit your overall health in several ways.

Throughout the year you can visit the mill “Il Frantoio di Montepulciano” and taste the oils that are produced.

Hand picking the grapes

Hand picking the grapes

Grape harvest

Hand picking the grapes means that pickers go through the vineyard and pick the grapes bunch by bunch. They can choose the ripe grapes, or rather, they can avoid picking rotten or bad grapes.

Hand picking of the grapes

The grape harvest in Tuscany usually occurs between September and October. The right period for harvesting is determined by the ripeness of the grape as measured by sugar, acid and tannin levels. Also the weather is important by planning the time of the harvest.

Some winemakers determine whether to use hand-picker workers or mechanical harvest machinery. Some benefits of hand picking the grapes are:

  • Grapes are handled gently
  • The hand picked grapes are carefully laid out so that they arrive at the press intact
  • Hand picking means you care and care is what matters…
Sangiovese grapes

Winemaking process red wine

Wine making is a natural process that requires human intervention, but each winery guides the process though different techniques. In basic, there are five components of the wine making process:

Harvesting, Crushing and Pressing, Fermentation, Clarification, Aging and Bottling

After the grapes are sorted they are ready to be de-stemmed and crushed. Mechanical presses the grapes into must. Must is a freshly juice that contains the skins, seeds and solids.

Crushing the grapes

After crushing and pressing the fermentation begins. The fermentation continues until the sugar is converted into alcohol and carbon dioxide CO2.

The crusher – destemmer

Grape skins and solids float to the top and need to be pushed back. The red wine juice is pomped from the bottom and splashed over the top of the grape cap.

When the fermentation has finished it is the time to clarify the wine. Filtration occurs by a filter. The clarified wine is ready for further aging in stainless steel, oak barrels or in bottels.

Poggio alla Sala

A group of workers at the vineyards of Poggio alla Sala picked the grapes with secateurs and put them in a basket. Then the grapes are put in a container and finally transported to the winery to be processed.

Hand picking
Hand pickers
Grape harvest Poggio alla Sala

The most planted grape at Poggio alla Sala is the Sangiovese grape. Poggio alla Sala is exposured in the southern part of Montepulciano. Some Etruscan objects are found here.

Sangiovese grapes

If you want gorgeous views as well as a good glass of wine than head to Poggio alla Sala. From here you see the Monte Amiata which influences the local climate of the lands and the vineyards.

Monte Amiata