Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Italy with the Beabouts #3: I'm free!!

View from La Catinetta di Rignana

Chianti country, in the region of Tuscany, is known for its wine but more famously for its scenery. The country is so beautiful with its never ending vineyards, hilltop towns and clay pot factories. It is breathtaking to just drive around the mountainous area and see a new vista around every turn. The capital of Tuscany is Florence and before heading there we stopped for some wine tasting in Chianti country at a few wineries that Josh and I found on our last trip there. The symbol of Chianti Classico is a black rooster (gallo nero), and you see billboards with the rooster everywhere in Chianti. The area is bigger than Sonoma or Napa Valleys, and the Chianti Classico region (a small section of Chianti) covers about 100 square miles between Florence and Siena. Since the symbol of Chianti is a rooster, we had the conversation “in my country, roosters say….” and it lead to some interesting discussion!

After leaving Venice we drove straight down to Chianti for some wine tasting. At our first stop we visited Villa Cafaggio. This beautiful winery overlooks the hills of Tuscany and has a beautiful property that looks brand new. They produce not only wine, but also chocolates and jams. We had a private tour of the winery and then tried the four basic wines that they offer (Chianti, Chianti Classico, Chianti Classico Riserva, and their IGT- or Super Tuscan). When we were there we discussed the sound that a rooster makes. In the US we say “cock-a-doodle-doo!” but in Mexico they say “kee-kaa-ree-kee!”. Apparently even roosters have different languages J We mentioned what we say in the US to our tour guide (cock-a-doodle-doo!) and she just laughed and said “It’s not possible!” Apparently roosters in Italy sound more like the Mexican roosters, “kee-ka-reekee!” We had fun with that new knowledge that roosters had their own dialect as well!

I'm free!!

After Villa Cafaggio we stopped at another winery for a tasting, then checked into our agritourismo (bed and breakfast). The b&b was amazing! It overlooked the vineyards nearby and was close to a small hilltop town. It was a great location about 30-45 minutes from Florence. After getting checked in, taking a short nap, and drinking a coffee, we went to dinner at one of the best restaurants I’ve ever been to! On our way there we stopped for pictures at a cute little town called Badia a Passignano. It is a beautiful location that is very Tuscan. Being in the area was a relaxing change after the craziness of Venice. At this point James realized that he was so happy to be in Chianti, that he felt like he was free!

Picture time!

La Cantinetta di Rignana is a fabulous restaurant at an agritourismo that is not easy to get to. After driving through the mountains you stop driving on paved roads and start on dirt roads. They are narrow and windy, but at the end you emerge at this adorable place with the best food! It is definitely worth it. We sat down for dinner and stayed so long that we pretty much shut the restaurant down! I had ricotta stuffed noodles (similar to ravioli) with a truffle sauce (OMG! Sooo good when it touches the lips!). It was heaven on a plate! Between the view of our table overlooking the vineyards, the wonderful food, and the good wine/company, this restaurant shot to the top of my list of favorites! We were having such a great time that we decided to bring some wine back to our b&b and drink it on the patio. No doubt we kept up the neighbors staying there, but no one said anything. Our time in Tuscany was off to a great start!
My half eaten ravioli, mmm...

Keeping up the neighbors :)

The next day: Florence!


  1. Nice blog entry. I want to go back! I'm free (or at least I was)!!!

  2. ohh!! Can we go back?? Do we have to wait for next year's conference?? ;)