Friday, September 18, 2015

Chianti's Best Kept Secret

Welcome to Indelible Adventures!   Each week I write a story and share it with my global audience of more than 130,000 people.  You can also subscribe to my weekly distribution list via the Indelible Adventures website or browse my latest photos and upcoming adventures and travel tips.  In addition, if you'd like to follow me on social media here are the links.


San Casciano is a small town in Tuscany about 30 minutes south of Firenze and it’s where we had the great pleasure of meeting Arianna Cini and her partner Alessio Di Genova from kmzerotours.  We’d been connected through a mutual friend prior to leaving for Italy and after a number of email exchanges, we agreed on meeting in town mid-afternoon.

I had been intrigued by the similarities and alignment between the philosophy of kmzerotours and that of Indelible Adventures in that life is about slowing down and experiencing a different way of life.   It was evident after meeting Arianna and Alessio that they have fully embraced this approach to their lives.

Arianna is from San Casciano but after attending University and working abroad for a number of years then meeting Alessio, they decided to return home and live in the house she grew up which is approximately a 10-minute drive from San Casciano.  

Her father is an architect who spent a great deal of time renovating this charming family home back to its former glory and although it was his first project, it’s obvious that a great deal of love when into each detail. 

Montrogoli was originally built in the 13th century and is surrounded by lush olive groves and vineyards as far as the eye can see, albeit with a few modern amenities thrown in for good measure. The original stable has been converted into a separate guest residence and there is a salt-water pool that overlooks the rolling Tuscan hills that surround this idyllic setting.

Arianna and Alessio believe in a sustainable life and cultivate a large vegetable garden on the property along with 250 mature olive trees.  Last year alone, they harvested some 600 litres of virgin olive oil.  Alessio is a certified sommelier who loves to cook and has a fine appreciation for local dishes, so between the fresh vegetables, homemade olive oil and local wines, it’s a match made in heaven! 

Indelible tip #1 If you're looking for a great place to slow down and center yourself to a different pace of life look no further than staying with Arianna and Alessio at Montrogoli in Tuscany.  For details, rates and availability or to book contact Arianna at kmzerotours

After our tour of Montrogoli, it was time to visit our first winery for the afternoon – Il Bacio.  

During our short drive to Il Bacio, Arianna described how she and Alessio had first met Daniele.  Originally they had set out to find like-minded locals whom they could network with and develop the concept of kmzerotours. They believe in natural, organic and local products and after touring many local wineries, they met Daniele. He is the farmer and vintner who helps run and manage his family’s estate and they had an immediate affinity with what he was endeavoring to do.  

Il Bacio has been in operation since 1990, and was one of the first vineyards to gain organic certification as outlined by the strict standards and guidelines, as certified and guaranteed by the Institute for Ethical and Environmental Certification (ICEA).  This means that the wines undergo spontaneous fermentation without added yeast and are not filtered, thus allowing each of the wines to maintain its natural characteristics and uniqueness.  

Arianna and Alessio are passionate people and have long believed that passion is the differentiator when it comes to having a more fulfilling life and so when they first met Daniele it was a meeting of the minds.

After a warm welcome from Daniele and his family, we set off to walk the vineyard.  As we walked, Daniele described the three varieties of grapes that they have under vine - Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Sangiovese.  

To demonstrate to us how he could tell if the grapes were ready for harvest, he carefully selected grapes from the different vines and showed us one of the methods for how he could tell if the grapes were ready for harvest. The color of the seeds and stems turned from the natural green to a dark brown…fascinating.  He also picked some grapes for us to taste – they were unbelievably sweet and juicy, certainly not the grapes you’d get from your regular grocery store.  These organic beauties were sweeter than candy!

Arianna asked Daniele about the upcoming harvest and when they would begin, to which he suggested that if the weather held and it didn’t rain, they would start in the next week or so.  

As we slowly walked the four hectares that make up Il Bacio (three of them under vine currently with a fourth being developed in early 2016), we surveyed the bountiful olive groves that skirt his vineyard and the tree lined creek below in the valley.  It was clear that Arianna and Alessio had met a kindred spirit – Daniele is a passionate vintner!

We toured his cellar and he surprisingly opened one of the casks to try the wine direct from the barrel.  In fact, the wine that he siphoned into a glass was only moved into the oak barrel earlier that day.  It was a little cloudy, but deliciously sweet!  

After our tour, we all sat around a large oak table under a canopy of grape vines adjacent to the family home. Daniele opened the first bottle, a 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon, and carefully poured us each a glass.  Holding his to the light, he slowly swirled the liquid nectar around in the glass looking for the “legs” which slowly made their way down the inside of the glass. We all inhaled the deep and satisfying aroma that comes with a wonderful wine, and he encouraged us to try it with dark chocolate to compliment the taste of the wine – simply delicious!

As we sat and drank his amazing wine, we nibbled on freshly baked bread drizzled with homegrown olive oil, local cheese and sausage, and figs from his trees.  What an unforgettable experience!

The second wine was a 2013 Chianti, and as Daniele described it, not a great year because of the unseasonably wet and humid summer.  Though he only yielded a third of his normal quantity, it was clear he had crafter another gem!  

I noticed the colorful and unusual labels on the bottles and he told us that an artist friend of his had designed them for him.  Il Bacio means “the kiss” in Italian and all of the labels are an interpretation of a kiss – very cool!

Daniele’s generosity was unexpected particularly since it was a sunny afternoon and he undoubtedly had many tasks around the farm requiring his attention yet he still took the better part of two hours to spend with us. 

Indelible tip #2: For some of the best organic wine in all of Italy (and I mean all of Italy!) you must visit the Agriturismo Il Bacio near Greve in Chianti and visit with Daniele and his wonderfully warm family.  You may even get to help on the harvest if its the right time of year!   Tell them Terence sent you ☺  

As we departed Il Bacio, it was evident that Arianna, Alessio, and Daniele are great friends. There is a genuine warmth and ease of conversation that comes with being with friends and it was clear that we had been included not in a wine tour per se, but in meeting and spending time with friends. We feel very blessed and thankful for meeting Daniele and his family and look forward to our next visit!  

As we bid our farewells, Arianna said that our second winery was going to be an even bigger treat, as we would be visiting an old friend of theirs who is part of the Antinori family who has an estate close to San Casciano.

The afternoon light was beginning to fade as we pulled into Anna’s driveway.  She came to the door with her trusty hound by her side and welcomed us warmly.  It was now obvious that Arianna and Alessio have developed deep friendships with a select and fascinating group of people.  As we entered Anna’s villa (Villa del Cigliano), we were blown away by the grandeur of this 15th century estate.  The architecture, the stunning gardens, the reflecting pool (which surprisingly is 3 meters deep and so doubles as a swimming pool in the summer), and the ornately themed Neptune wall fountain that dominates the outer wall of the one-hectare walled garden that adjoins the main house.

As we strolled through the gardens, Anna told us the story of how the land on which the estate now stood had been in family continuously since the 12th century.  She had been living comfortably in Rome with her husband and son and after her parents passed away, she decided to return to San Casciano and the estate to continue making wine.  Her son, Nicolas, has taken over the day-to-day operations of the winery but Anna continues to play a major role in its workings.

Before sitting down to taste some of her wines, Anna provided us a tour of her beautiful home and expansive gardens. She even gave us a peek into her beautiful reading room and the frescoed ceiling chapel that rarely sees the light of day.  

Afterwards, we sat with her under a canopy of vines to enjoy some of her wines, fruit, bread and cheeses.  Anna has lived a very interesting life and had many stories to share but also enquired about our lives and was genuinely interested in making a connection.   

The first wine we sampled was the incredible “Démodé” Rose.  Although not a wine snob, I’d never really tried a rose but Anna explained that the rose color comes from the amount of time the skin is in contact with the grape juice during the fermentation process, which is clearly much shorter than a red wine.  The wine was deliciously crisp and refreshing!

Our second was the “Cigliano” 2012 Chianti Classico, which was outstanding, and clearly one of their very best.  Not only was the wine delicious, the conversation and company was warm and genuine.

Indelible tip #3: To experience the old world charm of Italy, take the time to visit the Villa del Cigliano estate near San Casciano.  Although for a special insider visit connect with Arianna at kmzertours so she can arrange an exclusive, behind the scenes visit with Anna and Nicolas.

Arianna and Alessio have forged a wonderful network of similarly minded and passionate people, who clearly share their philosophy for enjoying a slower, more local, more grounded way of life.

Our day with Arianna and Alessio was the highlight of our trip to Italy!  Though far too short, we can’t wait to go back and spend more time with them exploring this wonderful part of Tuscany.

To book a stay, wine tour, or a unique local Tuscan experience with Arianna and Alessio, visit their website at 

Ciao ciao!


“Hanoi Posting”

A series of micro-stories by Terence Wallis

Episode 11: Resolute

No, Lea’s mind was made up.   She was going to Hanoi and have it out with him once and for all and prove to Bill that his posting had been a folly from the beginning and that they belonged together.  Now that she had made the decision it felt like the weight of the world had been lifted from her shoulders.

When she’d told her mother, Glenda wasn’t so sure.  She’d never really thought that Bill was good enough for her little girl, “An Australian to boot” she lamented on more than one occasion much to Lea’s chagrin.

No sooner than Lea had left her mothers than Glenda was on the phone to John who she knew would be in the office, even though it was a Sunday afternoon.  “Did you know your niece is going to Hanoi to see that damn Australian?” she blasted down the phone.  

Well, hello to you to sis John retorted, trying to keep his cool.  Actually, that’s the first I’ve heard of it, he said trying to sound upbeat.  

Okay, so how can I help?  “Sit her down and tell her she’s a fool and that she shouldn’t go” Glenda spat.   There was a moment of silence as John endeavored to keep his emotions in check, after taking a deep breath he said “and what makes you think she’ll listen to me?” he sighed.  

“She always listens to you, you’ve been like a father to her, just make her understand”, Glenda wailed.  Since Bill left for his posting in Hanoi Lea hadn’t spoken to John about anything unless it was work related.  

She seemed to have blamed him for ruining their relationship, which frustrated John no-end.  “The meat in the bloody sandwich” he thought once again.

Next week:  Episode 12:  The Number

With more than 6000 photos during my two weeks in Italy, you'd better buckle in and get ready for wall to wall photos of Italy for the next little while. J  Enjoy!

Alessio and Arianna at Montrogoli -

The beautiful rolling hills of Tuscany

The vegetable garden at Montrogoli in Tuscany

Olive trees ripening under the Tuscan sun...

Il Bacio ("the kiss") Agriturismo

Daniele the passionate organic farmer at Il Bacio walking the vines
The grapes are getting close to harvest time - Sangiovese grapes on the vine

The difference between the varieties of grapes - Sangiovese (left) and Cabernet Sauvignon (right)
A selection of Il Bacio's delicious organic wines!

Ready for a sampling of the fine wines with Daniele at Il Bacio

Local meats and cheese, homemade bread and olive oil and dark chocolate
truly complimented these delicious wines

I love Daniele's single minded focus of organic and all that means - including the new age cork!

Daniele and TW enjoying one of his finest under the Tuscan sun.

Anna and Arianna have a warm and wonderful relationship

Entrance to the Villa from the courtyard

The Villa is a stunning example of Italian country grandeur and very
fortunate to get an insider view 

The family tree which dates back to the 12th century...

The walled garden, reflecting pool and Neptune themed fountain at Villa del Cigliano

A magnificent garden 

The three-meter deep reflecting pool that doubles as a swimming pool during the summer months

Villa del Cigliano reflected in the pool

The Neptune themed fountain against the wall is massive and built during the 17th century

The magical sunset over the reflecting pool at Villa del Cigliano 

Our first wine - a Rose...crisp and refreshing!

Roast tomoto and wild mushrooms on crostini along with fresh grapes and a bottle of the
impeccable 2012 Chianti Classico
TW and Anna at Villa del Cigliano - such a wonderful host and we will definitley be back!

No comments:

Post a Comment