I survived my first week of classes! Even though it was simply syllabus week, it was still stressful, trying to figure out if I want to change my classes or keep what I got placed in. I decided to stay with the classes I have because I get credit for all of them. So that means I have an Art History course on purely Florentine art from the 1400s to the 1600s. Then a History course on the politics of modern Italy and an archaeology course. The last two include a course based solely on the history of Florence and then an Italian language course. It was all pretty straight forward, they are classes in English after all.
This weekend started on a Friday for us and our university here provided us with a free trip up to Chianti for wine tasting. All we needed to hear was the fact that it was a free trip. We decided to go and we met them over by the train station, Santa Maria Novella at 9:15 Friday morning. We rode a bus through winding streets through gorgeous vineyards and Tuscan hillsides. It took about an hour for us to get up to the Castello di Verrazzano in Chianti. It is an old castle that is surrounded by vineyards and countryside alike. When we walked off the bus and stepped onto the gravel pathway, the air was crisp and clean and smelled faintly of grapes, basil and rosemary; all of which were growing in the gardens around the castle. The castle, owned by the Verrazzano family, has been self sustaining for almost 500 years, growing grapes and making fabulous wine. Our tour guide who was from Florence, named Gino, was an older gentleman who took his wine and food very seriously, as most Italians do. He said that the wine and the food that we would be tasting were all grown on the acres of land owned by the Castello and that it would give us truth, life and love. I swear, for even just a moment, we all believed him. We toured the cellars and saw the giant barrels of wine and learned about the strength, color and flavor of the wine depending on the grapes, the skin and the height of the hill they grow upon. When we were standing on the terrace, overlooking the view, Gino told us to take a moment and stop taking photos and to just enjoy the view, just simply look and coexist with something so naturally stunning and realize what we were in the presence of. We all stopped snapping photos and stood quietly gazing at the vineyards and he started to recite a poem. It was in Italian, of course, but beautiful nonetheless. The last line stated, “M’affaccio di quassù, su questo mare, socchiodo gli occhi. E rni smarrisco” which translates to, “I look out at the sea of land and smile. I get lost in it.”
When we finally got to have our lunch, we were all so hungry from walking and smelling all of the grapes, vegetables and herbs in the gardens. We went through the process of tasting wine, looking at the color, smelling, swirling, and tasting. The first course consisted of a penne pasta with a simple tomato sauce with basil. The second course, however, just kept coming, it was homemade bread, salami, prosciutto, cooked pork, an egg dish, cheese with balsamic vinegar, salad, and finally almond biscotti with a dessert wine. Everything was delicious. We then took photos around the vineyards and got back on the bus and snaked our way back to the city. It was a great way to begin a first weekend.
Day 9, check.