Sarah and I have just returned from a warm and glorious week in the Tuscany region of Italy, where we had the great joy of witnessing the marriage of our niece Joanna and her husband Dave. Twenty-eight of us made our way south to Italy, where we took up residence at Il Castello di Bibbione, a 1000 year old castle / villa that belongs to a member of the Machiavelli family; a practicing physician when she and her adult daughter are not hosting guests at this wine and olive oil-producing estate.
Our week in Tuscany, coupled with some very excellent weather, provided us with a fine opportunity to visit and shoot picturesque locales that included Firenza (Florence), Pisa, Lucca, San Gimignano, the various villages of the Chianti countryside with its many spectacular vineyards, plus our favourite of locales: the medieval town of Sienna, with its reddish-brown brick Gothic architecture.
Unfortunately, we missed the running of Sienna’s famous Palio horse race by one week, which takes place annually on the town’s Piazza Il Campo. We did however pause long enough to take in and savour the panoramic view of Il Campo while leisurely sipping a late morning espresso at the table of one of the many outdoor cafes that ring this shell-shaped piazza. While visiting Sienna I experienced a bit of déjà vu. Those of us who watched ABC-TV's award-winning mini-series The Winds of War, starring the late Robert Mitchum, may recall the memorable scenes that were filmed on this very location with Ali MacGraw, Jan-Michael Vincent, and the great John Houseman.
In addition to the great wines and cheeses that Italy is well known for, Sarah and I made sure that we “consumed” a bit of artistic culture, as well as the culinary. While in Firenza, we marvelled at artworks such as Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus and Michelangelo’s David. Sarah’s initial reaction to seeing this famous and well-detailed statue was “Gawd, he’s BIG.” I am still assuming that she was commenting about the enormity of the ENTIRE statue…