Exercising outside in Montepulciano

Exercising outside in Montepulciano

Exercising in Montepulciano

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.

Christmas

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.

Let’s hope 2021 treats us better!

Covid-19 update Italy

Covid-19 update Italy

The latest news Coronavirus in Italy

Italy was the first country outside China to face a major corona outbreak. We went into a lockdown for at least 9 weeks in 2020. The restrictions against coronavirus were strict.

Last summer we managed to keep the infection rates relatively low. Unfortunately the end of the coronavirus is still not in sight.

President Giuseppe Conte is trying to avoid tough national measures like those announced in March 2020.

Italy continues to update its coronavirus rules. Here you read the latest news on the current coronavirus situation.
  • From January 16 to March 5 the Italian government has issued a new decree.
  • Traveling between regions is prohibited until February 15.
  • NEW! From January 17 museums in yellow regions are allowed to reopen in weekdays.
  • Italy started its COVID vaccination on December 27 2020 at the same time a most EU member states. They began with health workers and elderly people.
  • The Italian authorities announced new Covid-19 restrictions on Monday October 25 2020 to begin nationwide and specific restrictions for regions where the infection rate is highest.

Tuscany update

Tuscany has been classified as a red, orange and yellow zone.

  • On January 17 Tuscany went from being orange to yellow.

Lunch with friends in San Casciano dei Bagni

White zone

A new white zone has also been introduced. A region must have fewer than 50 cases 100.000 habitants.

White zones will no have restrictions. Meaning normal life. Now no Italian region will be classified into this zone, but with introducing the white zone means hope for the future.

Maintaining social distancing and wearing a mask remains but bars, restaurants, cinemas, libraries etc. will reopen. There will be no nationwide curfew.

Maintaining social distancing

They say that Tuscany will be one of the first regions classified into the white zone. Let’s cross our fingers!

Me wearing a face mask

Three colors

Starting from November 6 Italy is divided into three zones: red (high risk), orange (medium risk) and yellow (low risk). The colors are designed by the government and Minister of Health.

Dpcm Italy

The code classification changes frequently in Italy. It depends on the local statistics.

The nationwide curfew is still effective today in Italy.

Social distancing must be continued in the three zones. And it is mandatory to wear a face mask unless you go solo outside for a run or a bike ride. For body and mind it is important to get outside and exercise. With the eased restrictions it is it is the ideal time to do them.

Biking in Tuscany

Travellers from and to Italy must fill in a self-declaration form. These documents prove your reasons to travel.

Yellow zone

A yellow zone in Italy is a moderate risk zone. The rules are more relaxed.

The government recommends you to limit movements.

You are not allowed to move between regions only when necessary (work, study or hospital).

No more than two guests can visit the same home. And visiting a private home is allowed only once per day. The place you visit must be in the same region.

Restaurants, bars, gelaterias and pubs are able to operate in weekdays and weekends. The opening hours are 5 AM till 6 PM. Takeaway for restaurants is possible until 10 PM.

Shops are opened on weekdays and weekends. Shopping centers (shopping malls) remain closed on weekends and public holidays.

Hairdressers and beauty salons are open.

Orange zone

The orange zone is a medium high-risk zone. Nationwide measures continues to apply with additional restrictions.

The government recommend to limit movements as much as possible.

Restaurants and bars are closed. Bars provide takeaway service until 6 PM and restaurants provide takeaway service until 10 pm. There is no time limit for home deliveries. Pharmacies and shops that sell essential goods remain open.

Caffe Poliziano

Shopping centres (shopping malls) are closed over the weekends and public holidays.

Shops, hairdressers and beauty centers stay open on weekdays and weekends.

Closure of all museums, gyms, swimming pools, cinemas and theaters. Universities, primary and secondary schools are closed.

You may receive up to two guests in your home, on one condition that they live in the same municipality.

Residents are allowed to leave their homes only when it’s for work, necessity and health reasons.

Outside physical activity in the vicinity of your home is allowed (hiking, running and biking).

Red zone

The red zone is the highest risk zone. This means strict rules. People are asked not to move around unless necessary.

It is recommended that you work from home.

The rules last at least for 15 days. Restaurants, bars, gelaterias are closed. Except supermarkets and other food stores. Takeaway until 10 PM is still allowed. Pharmacies and shops that sell essential goods remain open.

Traveling in between regions and cities is prohibited. Moving in your municipality is not allowed, unless it’s for work, study and health reasons. When traveling you must have a signed declaration form proving your reasons to travel.

Closure of all museums, gyms, swimming pools, cinemas and theaters. Universities, primary and secondary schools are closed.

Hairdressers are open. Beauty centers are closed.

You may only exercise individually in the vicinity of your home.

Running in Tuscany

Up to two persons may visit another person’s home, on the condition that they live in the same region.

Wine tasting in Campania

Wine tasting in Campania

Wine region Campania

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.

Napels

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!

Grape varieties

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.

Friends

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!

Cooking class

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!

The menu:

  • 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

Super yummy!

Wine: “Falerno del Massico DOC” from Villa Matilde; Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG 2017 from Gattavecchi.

Buon appetito!

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.

Chapel of the Madonna di Vitaleta in San Quirico d’Orcia Tuscany

Chapel of the Madonna di Vitaleta in San Quirico d’Orcia Tuscany

Chapel of the Madonna di Vitaleta

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!

Story

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

Today

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.

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

My quarantaine blog in Montepulciano

My quarantaine blog in Montepulciano

Quarantaine life

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.

Now I use Zoom for my Virtual Wine Tastings in Montepulciano. I love this application!

“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!

Quarantaine package

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.

Quarantaine package

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.

Running

During the coronavirus pandemic it is safely to run. I do solo running. Three times a week I plan my runnings.

You can see my running activities here.

Sentiero delle Bonifica

Sentiero della Bonifica

Sentiero della Bonifica

Covid-19

The spread is slowing but the end of this pandemic is still not in sight. The lockdown measures in Italy were severe. I do not hope for a second Covid-19 lockdown in Italy.

Since the Covid-19 many things have changed. In Montepulciano we have some visitors from Europe, but especially American tourists are missing here. It is devastating for the economy and we feel it.

Montepulciano

Wine and Food Experience

Last year with my Wine and Food Experience in Montepulciano I’ve met many wonderful people from all over the world: Dubai, America, Canada, China, New Zealand, Holland, Germany, Ireland, Poland..

I miss the interaction with people and having the exchange of positive energy.

Saturday next, July 25 2020, I will have my first group in Montepulciano for the Wine and Food Experience. I am happy to welcome you again in Montepulciano!