To visit Siena or Lucca, that is the question.

For all of you facing this dilemma, Dievole offers a list of pros, cons and secret tips on how to survive this oh so difficult turning point in your journey. Sure, Siena is closer to us… but we’ll try to be as impartial as possible.

Visit Lucca

Cons

Lucca is a maze of hidden piazzas and winding alleys so if you’re not keen on getting lost, perhaps you should carefully study your sight-seeing itinerary before entering the city walls. But remember: if authenticity is what you’re looking for, walking off the beaten track is always a good idea. October and November might be tricky months, given the enormous number of visitors that crowd the streets during the annual Lucca Comics & Games Festival.

Visit Siena or Lucca_Dievole

The beautiful Cathedral of San Michele – Ph. Miquel González Page (Flickr CC)

Pros

Located at the foot of the Apuan Alps, Lucca is strewn with beautiful gardens, archeological ruins and renaissance villas. It is also known as “the city of 100 churches”, all stemming from different eras, last but not least the amazing gothic-style cathedral of San Martino. You can enjoy an amazing scenic promenade treading the city’s ancient walls, where you can peer over the ramparts and admire the surrounding countryside. The Giunigi Tower is a world-renowned attraction because of the small tree garden that grows at the summit of its romanesque-Gothic structure.

If you’re a fan of Opera Music, your ears will find paradise in Lucca, birthplace of famed composer Giacomo Puccini, to whom the city dedicates several events all throughout the year. Lucca is also home to the Lucca Comics and Games Festival, a fun-packed event which takes place annually during the months of October and November, and music sensation Lucca Summer Festival. If you want to put your tastebuds to the test, grab a bite of “Buccellato”, one of Lucca most renowned local sweets. This ring-shaped shortbread cake is available all year round, while if you want to enjoy a steaming bowl of typical “Garmugia” or “Farinata” soups, keep in mind that they tend to be seasonal… and pair wonderfully with a glass of Dievole Chianti Classico!

Lucca is easy to reach by train and is well connected with the other main Tuscan cities. If the weather suits, Lucca is also close to the sea – take a 30-minute train ride to enjoy a nice day of fresh seafood and sun on the Versilian coast.

Visit Siena

Cons

Siena is far more well known than Lucca, so get ready to deal with some serious tourism overflow that might threaten the tranquillity of your day-trip, especially if you visit Siena during the Palio di Siena in July and August. The right timing is key when it comes to visit Siena. Although it is reachable both by bus and by train, it does feel quite isolated – it would probably be best to travel by car in order to not have to depend on fixed time schedules – this way you can also freely explore the Chianti Classico countryside and the surrounding wine regions! Parking can be quite expensive – and keep an eye out for jacked up prices and tourist traps. We suggest sleeping outside the city walls and coming to town extra-early in order to enjoy the city as it slowly awakens.

Visit_Siena_Cathedral

Siena’s breathtaking cathedral at sunset – Ph. Sean X. Liu (Flickr CC)

Pros

Siena has so much offer: stunning façades, breathtaking views, awe-inspiring churches and riveting works of art. Once you have visited the historical Piazza del Campo, the Duomo or the 87-meter high Torre del Mangia, you will fully realise that there’s nothing quite like this Tuscan city (So much for us being impartial… oh well!). Food-wise, you’re really bound to be spoilt by choice! Fresh handmade “pici” pasta with boar meat sauce and, naturally, famed “panforte” fruitcake are a must (the latter tastes even better with our Vin Santo sweet wine!). Siena is also literally surrounded by wine producing regions (Chianti Classico, Montalcino, San Gimignano) so you can take your pick and set out for a tasting session among the vineyards or simply sip some quality red in an Osteria. Siena is the perfect setting for sunset promenades – a space where time seems to have fled, leaving an allure of medieval rapture and poetry. Visit Siena and you’ll understand what we’re talking about.

So whether you’re looking for the walled romanticism of Lucca or the hillside perfection of Siena, hopefully we’ve helped you make your mind up – if not, you can always try to visit Siena AND Lucca, planning a pitstop in the heart of our verdant Chianti Classico! One things is sure: there are no wrong choices here!

On September 17 a busful of Italian food bloggers set out from Rome for a two-day retreat in the heart of Tuscany’s Chianti Classico. The destination? You guessed it: Dievole.

Setting foot on the estate, the 12 food & wine lovers were greeted by the welcoming smiles of our staff and although the sky was clouded by the grey menace of rainclouds, Dievole was brimming with warmth and abundance.

After enjoying a relaxing glass of rosé wine in the green tranquillity of our Tasso garden, lunch was served…and it was spectacular! For the occasion we prepared our grand “tavolo dei maestri”, the historical wooden table that once hosted the evening laughter of Dievole’s winemakers who would gather here after a long day spent working amongst the vines.

Our chef Monika wowed our guests with the increasingly nuanced flavours of her creations. The entrée was a delicious pair of petit hamburgers, one filled with ribollita vegetable soup, the other with flavourful tripe, followed by a plate of pappardelle with meat ragout topped with delicate juniper air.

The remainings of a tuscan #lunch #pappardelle #DievoleExperience #chianticlassico #italianfood @dievole

A photo posted by Rossella Di Bidino (@rossdibi) on

The instagram star of the meal was a Tuscan delicacy unknown to many of our Italian food blogger guests: Monika’s marinated “Tonno del Chianti” pork laid on a bed of chickpeas and beans, drizzled with Dievole coratina olive oil.

Sated and satisfied, with the sweetness of Monika’s must sorbet on the tip of our tongues, we took a walk among the vines of our Progetto Fidelio, explaining the special philosophy behind this amazing collection of 30 grape varieties, a sort of wine-making DNA databank meant to preserve the diversity of our territory’s indigenous vines.

#Dievole #DievoleExperience #blogtour #Chianticlassico

A photo posted by sabrina (@sabrymomi) on

After this comfortable stroll, the group headed over to the wine-tasting room where Dievole wine expert Giovanni Alberio accompanied their tastebuds on a lush sensory journey,  starting with fresh Rosato Le Due Arbie, then savouring Dievole’s tannin-laden Chianti Classico 2014 and finishing on the tangy caramel notes of our Vin Santo.

The #DievoleExperience Italian food bloggers were then ready to take a break and discover the rooms of our Villas and Borgo, where they found precious gifts awaiting them, accompanied by personalised welcome cards!

Qua mi si coccolano in maniera indecente #dievoleexperience #chianticlassico

A photo posted by Vissia – Lingegnera (@amarituda) on

After a well-deserved rest, we all reunited around the table, once again ready to feast both eyes and mouths on Dievole’s unpredictable culinary creativity: ricotta flan with figs and Tuscan “rigatino” bacon, green sauce risotto with calf’s cheek and anchovy powder, tender beef with swiss chard and onions. As the guests plunged into the flavourful realm of Monika Filipinska’s cuisine, the story of Dievole and its products unraveled, spawning interested conversation and questions amongst our guests.

The evening couldn’t have enjoyed a sweeter closure: panna cotta with coratina olive oil and powder, garnished with sugar-coated fennel blossoms.

After a rainy night, the sky opened up in streaks of blue on the morning of September 18th. The #DievoleExperience Italian food bloggers awoke to find the joys of our rich breakfast buffet, unleashing their creativity and appetite.

It was then time for an intense lesson on Olive Oil tasting lead by oil-expert Piero Palanti, who explored the whole range of Dievole Oils together with its Chianti Classico vinegar, the company’s most recent product to be released on the market (we can’t wait for the Olio Nuovo to be ready!).

After this immersive experience in the world of Dievole Olive Oils we caught our guests off-guard with a surprise contest! They were put inside a room full of delicious cheeses, vegetables, fruits and meats. The question: what dish would you create to best enhance the flavours and use of our extra virgin olive oils?

But these Italian food bloggers were true experts and weren’t phased by the sudden request – in the blink of an eye they were selecting ingredients, chopping herbs and testing their creations. The winner was a delicate and balanced salad where marinated pork meat, wild herbs, sangiovese grapes and a swirl of nocellara olive oil.

After this riveting experience, the true prize for all was a delicious final three-course lunch in the dim lights of our historic wine cellar: bean and black chickpea purée with confit cod and pine-nut/red pepper pesto, pici pasta with tarragon pesto and a delicious wine and dark chocolate cake topped with Chianti Classico caviar.

Cantina storica Dievole.. pranzo in una atmosfera antica #DievoleExperience #anticheatmosfere #cantinestoriche

A photo posted by Elena Castiglione (@chezentity) on

The #DievoleExperience weekend was now drawing to an end. After a quick pitstop at our Wine and Oil shop, the lovely dozen were ready to travel back home – but we could tell that they were taking a piece of Dievole with them.

 

Dievole would like to thank all the Italian food bloggers for their wonderful company.

 

 

One of the best way to eat in Italy is to shop at a local market. From North to South, every city or small town has its own weekly market where you can buy seasonal fruit, vegetables, cheese, fresh fish and meat but also cheap clothing, shoes, bags, kitchen supplies and more!

These markets are usually set up in the main piazza with trucks and wagons displaying the goods. Prices are generally very convenient and some stall holders produce their own products, which are often fresher and better than those sold by big supermarket chains. Experiencing Siena’s food markets is the best way to really get in touch with local culture, meet and talk with Sienese people and indulge in some treats that will make your tastebuds scream “thank you!”.

Here are some suggestions. 

Wednesday Morning Market

15415350505_dc9b20f96a_b

Photo by Harvey Barrinson on Flickr

Spreading around Fortezza Medicea and the Artemio Franchi Stadium, this is one of the largest markets in Tuscany and it is very focused on locals and not geared to tourists. This is not necessarily a bad thing since visitors can get a glimpse inside the daily life of one of the most beautiful cities of the world. Although you can also find clothes, antiques and any kind of kitchen supplies, the food section here is extensive and very varied: fresh fish, meat, cheese and the most coloured and fragrant fruits and vegetables you will ever see –  the Tuscan sun works wonders! The market tends to be very crowded and you will probably lost your sense of direction if you are not used to this kind of situations. Here’s a tip: be clever and follow the old ladies pulling their groceries carts as they are probably headed to the best butcher or fruit seller in town. It could be considered stalking, but at least you will eat the best meat on the market for dinner!

If you are visiting the Val D’Orcia area, the weekly markets of Asciano and San Quirico d’Orcia are very well appreciated by locals, and you will probably find some of the same vendors of the Siena market. 

Antiques Market

Photo by Kotomi_ on Flickr

Photo by Kotomi_ on Flickr

The Antiques market takes place in piazza Mercato on the third Sunday of every month selling old items, second-hand clothing, carpets and antiques. It is small, intimate and the majority of the sellers are Italian. Some of them also have a warehouse to visit if you are very interested in buying or repairing something in particular. But since we really love food here, you will also find stands with local produce, fruit jams and any type of street food. 

Consorzio Agrario

The secret behind buying fresh products at the weekly market is to wake up very early and start shopping even 10-15 minutes before the official opening; everything is already set up and vendors won’t mind to sell a few things in this moment of calm before the storm – this is a very useful secret my grandmother and my mother passed on to me when I left my hometown and moved to Tuscany.  If you are not a morning person, you can go to the Consorzio Agrario – in the heart of Siena – where you can find a fantastic selection of all things Tuscan: Pecorino cheeses, chocolate, handmade fresh handmade pici pasta and the famous (and delicious) Cinta Senese prosciutto.

In Italy, food shopping is not just something you need to do every once in a while to feed your family, it’s something more. Going to buy groceries at the local market, walking through the stalls, touching, tasting and feeling the intense smell of fresh food is not just a necessity, it’s the realest expression of our culture.

The more time you spend in Tuscany, the more you’ll hear the word Sangiovese. Well that is, if you love wine! The most popular grape in this region, one we call the King of the Tuscan vineyard, is at the base of numerous Sangiovese wines with the Tuscany DOCG seal of approval.

The Sangiovese grape has long been the dominant vine in central Italy. Given the vast variety of terroir in which it grows, Sangiovese wines may have a range of flavors: from cherry to forest fruits, from violet to thyme, from vanilla to liquorice, from truffle to pencil lead, it’s got firm tannins and high acidity.

Sangiovese can be used to make a pure 100% Sangiovese wine, or blended at different percentages, usually with European vines like Cabernet, Merlot, Colorino, Canaiolo, Ciliegiolo etc. The extent to which it can be blended depends in part on the DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controllata) to which the winemaker must submit. So what are the different Tuscany DOCG that make up the best Sangiovese wines in Tuscany?

Sangiovese Wines DOCG

 

Brunello di Montalcino

Must contain 100% Sangiovese grape grown in the area near Montalcino, south east of the city of Siena.

Terroir: marl, limestone

Flavors: mature (jammy), blackberry, spices, earthy, tobacco

Minimum Aging Requirements: 4 years for the vintage, 5 years for the reserve

 

Montecucco

Must contain 90% Sangiovese grape from the Maremma area south west of Siena, grown on the other side of the Amiata mountains from the more famous Brunello di Montalcino.

Terroir: stony, mineral-rich soil

Flavors: cherry, strawberry, jam with notes of herbs

Minimum Aging Requirements: 1 year for the vintage, 2 years for the reserve

 

Morellino di Scansano

Must contain 85% Sangiovese grape grown near Scansano, a town in the province of Grosseto in the hilly part of Maremma that borders on the sea.

Terroir: sandstone, clay and shale

Flavors: pomegranate, spice

Minimum Aging Requirements: 8 months for the vintage, 2 years for the reserve

 

Chianti

Must contain 75% Sangiovese grape grown in the large part of Tuscany designated “Chianti” – see this article to better understand what and where is Chianti.

Terroir: chalky, calcium-dominant soil

Flavor: tangy cherry, floral notes of violets

Minimum Aging Requirements: 4 months for the vintage, 2 years for the reserve

 

Chianto Classico

Must contain at least 80% Sangiovese grapes grown in the Chianti Classico area of Tuscany (which is a part of the Chianti area). Dievole’s Sangiovese wines fall under the Chianti Classico denomination.

Terroir: alberese, galestro, limestone

Flavors: tart cherry, floral notes of violets, licorice, vanilla, earthy

Minimum Aging Requirements: 10 months for the vintage, 2 years for the reserve

 

Nobile di Montepulciano

Must contain 70% Sangiovese grape produced in the vineyards that surround the charming town of Montepulciano in Tuscany.

Terroir: clay-rich soil

Flavor: black cherry, soft spices

Minimum Aging Requirements: 2 years for the vintage, 3 years for the reserve

 

Carmignano

Must contain 50% Sangiovese grape from vineyards in the Carmignano area, which is north west of Florence in the province of Prato.

Terroir: limestone

Flavors: black currant, plum, meaty

Minimum Aging Requirements: 2 years for the vintage, 3 years for the reserve

Dievole recently fully restored an annex to our main villa that was once a limonaia, a greenhouse building traditionally found in on important Italian properties and used to store citrus plants, in their large terracotta pots, away from the elements during the winter. They are sometimes called an orangerie or winter garden, terms more frequently used by our northern neighbours – think of the Orangerie in the Jardin des Tuilleries, for example.

The restored Limonaia building at Dievole

The restored Limonaia building at Dievole

These structures are usually characterized by large windows and arched openings, and often they are adjacent to the stall in order to take advantage of the heat produced by animals; in fact, at Dievole, next door you can find our breakfast room which used to be a horse stable!

Lemons and other citrus plants – as well as farm animals! – are long absent from the interior of the limonaia at Dievole, which now houses a spacious suite upstairs, and two light-filled bedrooms downstairs. But in our recent renovation, we wanted to remember this part of the building’s history. Our architect and interior designer teamed up to develop a charming solution: these spaces would be decorated with a discreet citrus theme.

Bartolomeo Bimbi, citrus of the Medici (source: wga.hu)

Bartolomeo Bimbi, citrus of the Medici (source: wga.hu)

Still lifes of citrus plants of all types – lemons being the most common, but far from the only ones – abound in early modern Italian painting. But the man to take citrus painting to a high art is Bartolomeo Bimbi, who was commissioned by Grand Duke Cosimo III de’ Medici to represent his collection of 116 citrus varieties in four huge canvases intended to decorate the country lodge at the Villa della Topaia (a few kilometers outside Florence), where they were documented in October 1715.

Paintings and maiolica in the Limonaia suite are inspired by the Bimbi images

Paintings and maiolica in the Limonaia suite are inspired by the Bimbi images

Cosimo III was not the first Medici to say “if live gives you lemons… collect them” (okay, he never said that, but it’s nice to imagine it). Before him, Cosimo I collected citruses between 1554 and 1568, and Francesco I also contributed to the family’s acidic wealth. Pietro Leopoldo, who became Duke in 1765, saw the scientific value of the collection for the education of the masses: he made lifelike wax and plaster models of all the citrus in the Medici collection and put them in a museum he founded (La Specola in Florence).

The Medici kept their ever-growing assortment of citrus plants first in the upper garden at the Villa at Castello, then in the famous Florentine Boboli Gardens – though not in the extant limonaia of that garden, which was a commission of the Lorraine family in 1777. Like the precious art the family collected, the lemons also have been handed down through history, and can be visited during special openings of the limonaia of Palazzo Pitti, usually in the springtime.

The limonaia structure at Dievole maintains the light and airy structure that helped grow plants in the past

The limonaia structure at Dievole maintains the light and airy structure that helped grow plants in the past

At the height of the Medici citrus collection, Cosimo III had Bimbi – already well known for his still-lives – detail dozens of citrus varieties on one fantastical plant, which, as if by magic, simultaneously produces fragrant flowers and fully formed fruit. Each is numbered and corresponds to a legend below. The citrus paintings are part of a larger project in which Bimbi documented all the flora and fauna of Tuscany, which served the purpose of glorifying the Tuscan ruler and his rich and “fruitful” (pun intended) territory.

This fruitfulness is exactly what we wish to recall by ornamenting our limonaia rooms with paintings that derive from the famous ones by Bimbi. Given the importance of both patron and topic, the four major canvases by Bimbi spurred hundreds of versions by other artists, a trend that continued even into the 19th and 20th centuries. Hence, we scoured antique shops and were able to find many good paintings of this type, all of which have been lovingly restored and given a new home here at Dievole. So when you set foot in our limonaia rooms, perhaps you will be able to almost smell the fragrant citrus flowers, remnants of a time long past, made alive again through painting.

Already daydreaming about your next Italian adventure? Perhaps you’re beyond the Pinterest phase and ready to start booking a hotel in Tuscany. Wherever you are, Italy awaits you in all her majesty. Here at Dievole we’ve assembled seven bucket-list adventures you simply must experience during your Italian holidays. Check it out.

 

Enjoy pizza in Naples

Pizza dough being kneaded

Pizza dough being kneaded

Bite deep into a delicious pizza Napolatena. The ingredients of a good pizza are simple: fresh basil, mozzarella, tomatoes—just like the flag—a simple dough, and extra-virgin olive oil. They’re assembled with love and cooked with finesse at extreme temperatures for 90 seconds or less as per tradition. There’s typically more sauce than cheese on a Neapolitan pizza, so the centers are soupy, and savory. For this reason, they are best served as little personal pies, not slices. Buon appetito!

 

Taste wine where it’s made

Tasting Dievole wine on the spot

Tasting Dievole wine on the spot

So, you know whether you’re a sparkling, red, white, or rosé kind of gal, but have you savored the wine where it’s made? The vineyards of the Chianti Classico region spread from Florence to Siena, and they’re unanimously known as the cradle of the world’s best wines. Interested in expanding your wine knowledge? The best way to learn is from the producers themselves. Plan a wine tasting for your next Italian holiday. No need to look far, Dievole offers wine tastings right here.

 

Ride a Vespa

The Vespa (model 946) parked somewhere in Tuscany | Photo Alexandra Korey

The Vespa (model 946) parked somewhere in Tuscany | Photo Alexandra Korey

Cue up Audrey Hepburn behind Gregory Peck in Roman Holiday, or if you’re of the younger generation, a certain Lizzie McGuire movie – the romance of the 2-wheeled Italian icon is always alive in our imaginations. The first-time Vespa experience can be enjoyed solo or with a group of girlfriends by riding safely behind a guide. Companies like Scooteroma and Florencetown offer vespa tours in Rome and Florence, and every major city will offer something similar.

 

Stay in an authentic agriturismo

Tuscan hospitality at an agriturismo - Dievole

Tuscan hospitality at an agriturismo – Dievole

Booking your stay at an authentic Agriturismo, or a farm-stay, is one of the most relaxing and rewarding ways to enjoy the beauty of the Italian countryside. It’s even more incredible if that agriturismo doubles as a winery, which here at Dievole we are both. What makes an agriturismo special is that you’re in touch with nature, and can usually visit the vines, kitchen garden, honey production or other things the place makes.

 

Experience the Palio in Siena

Palio di Siena | Photo Angela Sanders

Palio di Siena | Photo Angela Sanders

The Palio di Siena is an intense bareback horse race where ten of Siena’s neighborhoods, or contrade, compete. The event isn’t for tourists, it’s a heavily felt, local tradition. The Palio is held twice a year July 2 and August 16 in honor of the Blessed Mother and to he delight of passionate locals. It’s the heart and soul of Siena. Rivalries are intense. If you plan to go, mark your territory in Piazza del Campo especially early. The Piazza fills up to the brim, and you’ll want a clear view. Regardless of the heat, you really, really won’t want to miss this event. Bring sunscreen, lots of water, and a fan.

 

Gaze at sunflower fields

Sunflower Fields | Photo by Marco Pagni on Flickr

Sunflower Fields | Photo by Marco Pagni on Flickr

You’ve seen the sunflower fields in photographs and films, but you haven’t seen them yet in Italy. Why is this, you ask? It may just not be a sunflower year. We recommend researching this before you go looking for them. If the stars align just so, and you find that the sunflowers are in bloom, definitely make time for the adventure during your Italian holiday. That image of you standing amongst the happy blooms is sure to be your profile photo for at least a year to come.

 

Jump in the Mediterranean sea

The sea at Cinque Terre | Photo Angela Sanders

The sea at Cinque Terre | Photo Angela Sanders

What’s more ideal than swimming in the crystal clear of the Mediterranean Sea? A day at the beach sure beats the city heat, and a dip in the sea, or mare, will leave your mind, body and soul refreshed. Check out our blog post about the best beaches to consider when planning your Italian holidays.

 

words by Angela Sanders

In September, Tuscany comes alive with one of the most important times of year for our agricultural community: the grape harvest. This is the moment that the grapes on our vines, having absorbed all the sun and the freshness that Tuscany can give, are ready to be hand-picked and brought into the cellar to begin vinification. This process remains much the same today as it was one hundred years ago, with traditions handed down to the new generations. The grape harvest festival is a Tuscan tradition that comes hand in hand with the season.

grape bunches

Grapes awaiting vendemmia at Dievole

In the past, the days leading up to the vendemmia or harvest would be awaited with both excitement and trepidation. The time of harvest is based on the ever changing cycles of nature, which cannot be programmed or marked on a calendar with major precision. When the grapes are ready, the job began, and still begins, with first light. In the past, everyone participated, from the youngest members of the family to the patriarch and matriarch, as well as friends and cousins coming to work together.

Picking grapes at Dievole

Picking grapes at Dievole

Grapes were picked manually with scissors or a knife, and placed into small baskets. When these were full, the strongest members of the family would transport them to wherever they were to be pressed, preferably in a cool cellar dedicated to winemaking. Here, the grapes would be pressed and the must sits in vats before being transferred to wooden barrels to mature.

The end of a long work day was always marked by conviviality, a large, late lunch – with wine, of course – at which the season’s best produce was prepared in simple, hearty dishes. This meal was just as important as the whole harvest, reflecting the satisfaction of another day’s hard work.
Dievole vendemmia 2014-65
Closer to Florence, the town of Signa becomes animated around harvest time with vino novello, new wine, for all, accompanied by aperitivi, workshops, and artisan stands. Charming Impruneta comes alive the last week of September, when a parade of allegorical carts developed by the town’s four areas comes down the main street in remembrance of the historical parades put on by nearby farms, where oxen pulled wagons laden with the fruits and vegetables of that year’s labour.

Further south, in Chiusi (province of Siena), wineries open their doors to the public for new wine tastings. Scansano, in Maremma, holds that area’s most famous party, a celebration of wine to remember the centuries-long techniques of winemaking that here go back even to the Etruscans. Pittigliano, a town perched on tufa stone, also in Maremma, combines wine with special events in the area’s tourist attractions, namely the Vie Cave, an impressive road that dates to Etruscan times. Finally, Expo Chianti Classico takes place mid-month in Greve in Chianti, with more wine tastings, as well as pairings with olive oil, salami, cheese and plenty of local products, in good company with concerts, workshops and other special events.

As the olive harvest season is approaching, we are buzzing with excitement for our Primo Raccolto project, a one-of-a-kind experiment that will get you involved as part of this special process. We spoke with Marco Scanu, head of Olio di Dievole, about the idea behind Primo Raccolto and how he envisages that the newest Dievole extra virgin olive oil will go from grove to table.

Can you explain the Primo Raccolto project?

The concept behind Primo Raccolto is first of all deeply rooted in Tuscan tradition, being an ancestral occurrence celebrated in Tuscany connected to the millennial relationship that ties mankind to extra-virgin olive oil.

Olive Oil symbolically represents rebirth for it is intrinsically bound to the cyclic passage of the seasons. Traditionally, it is the element that marks the transition from autumn to Spring, and therefore has a strong religious and spiritual value. Anointing with olive oil accompanies both birth and death and is a ritual that still takes on an important role in today’s society. The harvest of the olives is the last harvest to take place during the year and therefore bears in itself the magical moment of transition between the hard winter season and the flourishing of spring.

Here at Dievole, Olio Nuovo is not only a religious and spiritual landmark – it is the emblem of nature and freshness, elements that we have wanted to take to extremes with our Primo Raccolto project. Our customers will have the unique opportunity to buy our freshly pressed olive oil bottled daily from October 15 to November 15, capturing the essence and unrepeatable characteristics of each day spent working among the olive groves and olive mill. By preordering your very own bottle of Olio Nuovo, you can choose a specific date – be it for a birthday, anniversary or special occasion – that will be printed directly on the label.

dievole olive grove

Picking olives in a Dievole Olive grove

How does this project fit into the larger olive oil project that you have been heading up since 2014?

Primo Raccolto and our classic line of Olive Oils actually follow two complementary trajectories that seamlessly combine without overpowering each other. They represent two different moments in time: while the first could be conceived as a sort of test, an impromptu act of craftsmanship in direct relation with the customer, the others are the result of a careful selection and assembly designed according to marketplace dynamics. Primo Raccolto’s approach is focused on valuing the moment, instilling its unique.

How did you get the idea?

We’ve been working on this project since we created the Olio di Dievole project in 2014, but we were waiting for the right moment to launch it. We wanted to first give Dievole a clear identity, become a reference point in the olive oil world, a position that we can proudly affirm to have reached with a number of prestigious awards. We like to point out that with Primo Raccolto we haven’t invented anything new: our main objective is to value and share a traditional moment of our Chianti territory and our Tuscan heritage. Primo Raccolto is but a benign provocation, an invitation to seize the day, to not let an amazing opportunity pass you by – in this case, the opportunity to taste unprecedented freshness.

Dievole olive oils have received a lot of prizes, and one of the reasons is the technological innovations you’ve brought to the press. Now you’re using ultrasound to make a better oil…Tell us about that!

Dievole is in constant dialogue with new technological tendencies and fortunately we also have the funding necessary to invest in innovation and collaborate with other realities, like universities and the machinery industry whose contribution is vital to our cause. We believe that ultrasounds will help facilitate olive oil extraction. After an intense test phase, we are now ready to move into a more productive phase, where we will verify its functionality and implement it in our everyday operations. By applying ultrasound stimulation on a molecular level, it induces a structural reorganization that aims at speeding up the extraction process and therefore assuring maximum quality at minimum time. We dedicate a lot of our time to research and experimentation, although we know that this requires more awareness and responsibilities. Dievole is always on the lookout for new ideas to benefit from and grow, even at the risk of failing.

 

Finally, how do you recommend that people best use the olio nuovo?

Our Olio Nuovo pairs wonderfully with kale, they are both served on broth-soaked bread during the traditional Tuscan festivities which celebrate the new olive oil season. Primo Raccolto is also amazing when served fresh, for it offers the immediacy of a crisp, lively vegetable hint. It is best when consumed within a month of its purchase, in order to fully experience and appreciate its unique flavors.

@Igerssiena founder and instagramer Francesca de Munari’s Val D’Orcia photos truly capture the essence of this fascinating corner of Tuscany, a green valley that stretches between the provinces of Siena and Grosseto where iconic cypress lined white roads and hidden churches instil poetry all throughout the land.

We interviewed Francesca about her Val D’Orcia photos, her favorite itineraries and suggestions on how to experience Tuscany at its fullest. Let this article inspire you – the Val D’Orcia is but a one hour drive away from Dievole!

#buongiornocosì #goodmorning #alba

A photo posted by francydemu (@francydemu) on

You travel a lot – how do you feel every time you return to Siena? By looking at your Val D’Orcia photos, it’s quite evident that distance rekindles the photographic passion you feel for your land.

This is very true, I love travelling and am curious by nature so every time there’s a chance to travel I seize it! My journeys don’t only involve international destinations: I truly believe that Italy is the most beautiful country in the world and there are still so many parts of it that I’ve never seen!

Returning from a trip also requires that you re-enter in a mindset made of daily tasks (taking care of work, family, the house) that can be traumatic at times, but hey, let’s face the truth: we live in such a beautiful region that offers breathtaking views just a short car or motorcycle drive away and who doesn’t have an hour of time to spare to discover the heavenly corners of our countryside?

Our natural surroundings change colours with the seasons, this has a very strong therapeutic influence on me. I love taking long walks and admiring the ever-changing scenery. Taking pictures is just my way of burning those images into my mind.

#valdorcia#owf2016 #orciadoc #igerssiena #orciawinefestival #raccontamiltuovino

A photo posted by francydemu (@francydemu) on

You have a very special bond with light – how do you manage to capture the essence of the world-famous “Tuscan Sun”?

I really wouldn’t know… maybe it’s just luck or my working schedule that has me up and running from sunrise to sunset… So once I’m driving over of from my office, how could I not take advantage of the two most beautiful moments of the day?

#cypress #valdorcia #skyporn #clouds

A photo posted by francydemu (@francydemu) on

Which are your favorite locations and is getting lost an important part of the experience? Do you have any funny stories you would like to share with us about how you found your most beloved spots? 

My favorite locations are Bagno Vignoni and the areas around Pienza… Being lost is a fundamental part of exploring, also because the Val d’Orcia is so much more than what it is usually portrayed to be, and how could you ever discover its secrets without getting lost? There’s nothing more beautiful than to wander in our region’s nature.

A cute anecdote? The first time me and my husband went off to look for the Madonna di Vitaleta chapel, a sight I had often admired in magazines and postcards but never in real life. We managed to pinpoint the area thanks to Google Maps but couldn’t find the precise route, so we parked in the middle of a field and walked for about 50 minutes in the middle of nowhere hoping to spot our destination sooner or later… and we did! So we found the chapel and a pretty easy way to get there.

#vitaleta #chapel #cypress #cloudsporn #clouds #sky #skyporn

A photo posted by francydemu (@francydemu) on

Do you have any tips for the Instagram community on how to approach the Val D’Orcia territory? Trace an ideal itinerary for all of those brave photographers that wish to discover the beautiful and mysterious facets of this charming stretch of Tuscany.

My first tip is to take your time and take it slow. I often meet people who expect to be able to visit Val d’Orcia and the Crete Senesi in half a day.

I would book a stay in a nice hotel or agriturismo, for starters, in order to really enjoy and savour the peaceful, colourful and fragrant nature and also taste some of the region’s most typical flavours. This should become the starting point of a day of intense shooting.

My suggested itinerary would start from San Quirico’s famous cypress lined path, just under Montalcino. From here, I would head to Pienza and stop by the Madonna di Vitaleta chapel (they recently put up a road sign) and finish in Monticchiello. On the way back, I recommend drivin towards Bagno Vignoni to bring the day to a close by admiring Poggio Covili’s iconic cypress road.

Sognando il prossimo weekend #bagnovignoni #terme #relax #love #ioetu

A photo posted by francydemu (@francydemu) on

 

Thank you Francesca for sharing your stories and Val D’Orcia photos with us and our readers!

[email protected] su instagram and twitter!

 

As Fall approaches, don’t curb your craving for fresh and crunchy veggies: here’s a simple trick that will preserve Summer vegetables and keep your dishes green and lively even as the year shifts into colder temperatures. La Giardiniera is a traditional Italian peasant food conceived to make the most of nature’s abundance. Its evocative name derives from word “Giardino”, which is Italian for “Garden”, from which the recipe borrows its healthy colours and fresh aromas.

INGREDIENTS TO PRESERVE SUMMER VEGETABLES

300 gr celery

300 gr onions

300 gr cauliflower

300 gr carrots

300 gr zucchini

300 gr mixed peppers (red, yellow and green)

200 gr radish

1 liter of Dievole Chianti Classico Wine Vinegar

750 ml Le Due Arbie White Wine

1,5 liter Water

halved garlic cloves

2 bay leaves

50 gr Salt

600 gr Brown sugar

Black Pepper to taste

Dievole 100 % Italian Extra Virgin Olive Oil

HOW TO PREPARE LA GIARDINIERA

Wash and finely chop all vegetables. Mix vinegar, wine, water, sugar, bay leaves, salt and crushed pepper in a large pot and bring to a boil. Cook each vegetable type separately until tender-crisp then dry with a clean cloth. Once the process has been completed, do not throw out the cooking liquid – stick it in the fridge and let it cool down for 25 minutes. In the meantime, remove the lids and prepare the jars you will be preserving your pickled Giardiniera veggies in: wash them in hot soapy water, rinse well then sterilise them in a pot of boiling hot water for 10 minutes. Let the lids simmer separately in a small saucepan for about ten minutes. Take the clean jars and fill them with the previously cooked vegetables, 2 garlic cloves, the chilled brine and top with a bit of Dievole extra virgin olive oil in order to better preserve the vegetables’ flavour and temper the acidity. Once your jars have been covered and cooled down, put them in boiling water and make sure that they are vacuum-sealed correctly. Store in a dry place away from direct sunlight and heat. We suggest not opening the jars for at least a month, this way the flavours will really set in and you will be able to preserve summer vegetables for up to several weeks!

HOW TO USE YOUR HOMEMADE GIARDINIERA

Its sweet and sour flavour pairs perfectly with fish and meat dishes – at Dievole, for example, we love to preserve Summer vegetables and serve them aside our beef tartare with fresh homemade mayonnaise and green sauce. You can also use your giardiniera to add some color to appetiser dishes and cold cut platters. This delicious condiment also travelled across the ocean and has a spicy sister variant in Chicago thanks to the culinary knowledge passed on by nostalgic Italian immigrants who just couldn’t and wouldn’t let go of this easy-to-make relish… and who could blame them! In this specific part of the USA it is usually used as a dressing in beef and sausage sandwiches or as a pizza topping. There are many recipes and uses for the Giardiniera, so feel free to experiment and share your discoveries with us!