Oh, Tuscany

It was my years’ dream to come back to Italy and tour the countryside.  Here I am, on vacation only, not on business.
Living in Williamette Valley, the wine country, I have done numerous wine tastings, but have not come close to inspecting the clusters of grapes growing in the vineyard. Here in Tuscany, when the golden glow shines through our apartment window in the morning, it also glows on the vineyard. 
Good morning, Tuscany
Tuscany is a world-famous wine haven, particularly in the Chianti region. Thousands and ten thousand acres of vineyards on the rolling hills are the ‘trademark’ and the main element to create its breath-taking landscape.  

These vineyards, I believe, are mostly planted by original farmers according to pre-existing geography. Unlike in the States where everything is so regulated and checker-boarded, here shows history’s impact and true nature.

Dusk in Tuscany

I think the unintentional placement of the vineyards here has accidentally created dramatic and stunning scenery.  This land of vineyards is vast and magnificent. The spread is often beyond our vision of a 180-degree view and beyond.  The mature growth of the vines shows signs of long history, experience, and expertise.

Layers of mountains afar and behind embrace the continuous patches and patterns of the vineyards. Putting yourself in the scene, you would wonder if this is real or a dream.

I brought my travel tripod. Unfortunately, the roads are extremely winding and narrow. And, there are no shoulders. Italian drivers do not use blinkers. If you use signals, you are telling locals that you are foreign and chances are, you will be pressed to drive faster and get out of the way.

San Gimignano

On many occasions, when the photo ops were up, we either could not find a place to pull over or the cars kept coming to no stop from both directions. If we were just a bit slower sometimes because we were reconfirming our driving directions, we would hear that screaming honks. Driving is stressful here, but for the sake of the scenery, a little bit of upset can easily be put behind it.

The Italian road system is governed by Roundabouts which are designed to do the same work as our Stop signs here except that we have to watch the traffic coming from all directions. It is a Yield, not a Stop. Most of the drivers are pretty aggressive. It is quite tough for the visitors who are not familiar with the roads to ‘compete’. I said ‘compete’. Because if you don’t move, others will. This reminds me of my previous experience driving in Taiwan. The roads are narrow and the drivers are in multitude. If you follow the rules, you may get nowhere.
how enchanting

There are two primary types of grapes growing in Tuscany, one is Sangiovese used to make Red wine and the other is Vernache used to make white wine.

We visited Castello Verranzzano winery in Chianti and concluded that we like Chianti Classico the best. The wine list from the restaurants is usually 3-4 pages long, but we are not wine connoisseurs. All we do is try a different one each time and they are generally pretty good. Just like olive oil and Balsamic vinaigrette, a glass of wine at dinner table is part of Italian tradition and undoubtedly,  it adds ambiance and flavor to the dish with the remaining taste on the tongue, in my opinion.

under grape vines
It was inside the winery and in the restaurants that I first saw grape plants used as the roof decor for the open dining area. Aged grape vines provide nice shade and the sweet aroma from the grapes is enchanting. I wonder why Willamette wineries are not doing the same. Maybe the grapes are not aged and large enough to crawl on the roof. I looked up and saw these beautiful grapes hanging from the ceiling and bathing in the sun.

Giovani Verrazzano was a renowned explorer after Christopher Columbus. An existing bridge in New York City was named after him. His castle is now a charming winery and also the living space for the winery workers. How do you like to live and work in a place like this?

Verranzzano Castle fence

The grapes are sweet. The winery is nicely architected. Vineyards are the landscape, amazing. But what excited me the most is to watch grape harvesting. I know from this point on, I will appreciate every single piece of the grapes that we have and enjoy it.

We were told that these workers are paid by pounds so they tend to work fast.  I had to run after them to take their pictures because they can finish picking an approximately 500 feet row in about ten minutes. Wages are mean, but the smiles do not leave their face.

A Smile to Remember


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