It was hard to leave San Marino – it is such a unique and small country. Interesting museums, eclectic shopping, great views and good food!
We opted for the slow drive through Tuscany – covering windy roads up and down the rolling hills, cresting passes and driving through several National Parks. The roads are narrow, steep at times but always through picturesque countryside. This time of year everything is green or in bloom. Spring has sprung and the crowds have not yet overwhelmed the region; it is a perfect time to visit!
We headed straight for the Marchesi Antinori Chianti Classico Cellar which turned out to be the highlight of the day. After 600 years of never being open to the public – the Antinori’s, arguably Italy’s most famous wine family have finally “opened” their doors! The winery itself is an architectural masterpiece.
I have visited hundreds of wineries. Many cellars are pristine clean, with the barrels laser sighted and lined up perfectly – or completely the opposite; the cellar is a mess, as it often is with racking, bottling, fermentation occurring during harvest or any of a number of other wine making activities. However, I have never described a cellar as truly inspirational such as this one. It is like being in church, a reverent, darkened spot to bathe in the quiet and beauty of the surroundings and its unique design. Nature often inspires but it is rare when one can be inspired indoors – especially so at such a winery that just opened several weeks ago!
The museum is worth visiting – (no charge – 20 euro for the tour and tasting) – some of the works by the famous operatic composer Pucini are on display. He used to say he wrote better after a bottle of Antinori’s finest wine. A massive dual wooden and steel wine press is the center-point of this museum. It is a very unique design, dating from the Renaissance period and was personally designed by Leondardo DaVinci. I can only imagine what something this unique would cost!
The parking lot is an incredible work of art – cities that are built and function around the automobile such as Los Angeles would benefit by taking careful notes on this particular design.
Wine is art – and this new winery has taken this to heart. It has only been open several weeks and already it can be called a “classic” – something great – a testament to the Antinori’s long history of wine-making – 26 generations in fact. They are one of the world’s oldest continuously operating family businesses. A painting of their family tree (a large painting as one would expect) shows all of their family members back to Rinuccio di Antinoro who started making wine in the year 1180.
We finished up the day with a quick stop in the small town of Pietrasanta – staying at a residential apartment courtesy of Serena who offers tours in the region.