Day 37 – Becchereto and Carmignano

Today we visited a biodynamic winery located in a former Medici hunting reserve in the hills of Carmignano near Pistoia.

We met Rossella Bencini, owner of the winery Fattoria Becchereto, who gave us a guided tour of her beautiful estate. She produces wines under the label Terre a Mano, which is named for a type of land that was tended by paid workers versus sharecroppers. She showed us the composition of her Carmignano wines: 75% Sangiovese, 15% Canaiolo, and 10% Cabernet.

She took us out into the vineyard and showed us the difference between Sangiovese and Cabernet vines. Her vineyards are biodynamic, meaning she uses the concepts of Rudolf Steiner to work with nature, such as the phases of the moon, to create the best soil and the best grapes.

Rossella is a very energetic lady, having developed international distribution for her small production of excellent wines. Here she is getting ready to offer us water from a nearby spring. Despite the appearance of the ancient fountain, the water tasted delicious on this very hot day.

Rossella had four very cute dogs that followed us everywhere. I could have taken this one home with me.

Next we visited a museum in the town of Bacchereto, which once was known for its ceramic production. About nine large factory kilns operated in the area for two centuries from the end of the 1300s, producing a high-quality maiolica pottery.

The museum is located in a restored church tower, and shows many examples of pottery fragments found during the restoration, including this image of a hemaphrodite from medieval times.

I had seen signs promoting Bacchereto’s cherry festival and had in mind a street lined with stalls. Instead we found one table on which sat cherries and delicious baked goods, enough to enjoy a homemade cherry goodie with a bit of extra dry prosecco.

Next we headed to the Artimino Archaeological Museum, where findings are displayed from Etruscan tombs in the area. The clock tower of Artimino is attached to the museum. The little spot was filled with Italian locals enjoying their holiday, the Festa della Repubblica.

Many of the Etruscan artifacts in the museum showed amazing skill and detail.

These tiny fragments of carved ivory are very fine, but they also indicate the extensive trade connections made by Etruscans to far off areas.

We had dinner at Da Delfina, a restaurant with a terrace looking out over to an ancient estate and hunting lodge of Medici origins, the Villa La Ferdinanda, a UNESCO heritage site.

I tried a pasta made of acorn flour with an interesting and indescribable flavor.

It was lovely to sit on the terrace overlooking the hillsides.

Tomorrow we stay in Pistoia for a tour of the city.

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