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