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  • Agriturismo La Pietriccia Chianciano Terme
  • Agriturismo La Pietriccia Chianciano Terme
  • Agriturismo La Pietriccia Chianciano Terme
  • Agriturismo La Pietriccia Chianciano Terme
  • Agriturismo La Pietriccia Chianciano Terme
  • Agriturismo La Pietriccia Chianciano Terme
  • Agriturismo La Pietriccia Chianciano Terme

When given the opportunity to “live like a local” in Tuscany


DESCRIZIONE

When given the opportunity to “live like a local” in Tuscany, I imagined myself gorging on pasta and red wine. So I’m surprised to find myself in a comedy chef hat and apron, failing miserably to make spaghetti while a giant bearded man shouts: “Theener, it must be theener!” I’m at Agriturismo la Pietriccia , one of Italy’s growing number of farm with accommodation, where visitors can keep it real with unspoiled surroundings. And the Brian Blessed lookalike is Stefano, our host who rears his own animals, grows vegetable, presses olives oil and most importantly, makes wine. And his passion for organic food quickly become infectious. The “spaghetti incident” which ended up with me wearing a lot more that my fellow diners got to eat, was part of  a cookery lesson where Stefano teach guest how to make “cucina povera”… Tuscan peasant food. My misshapen worms of dough ended up joining wild boar sausages, ravioli, a ricotta cake and an incredible walnut pesto in a meal was made all the more delicious by the fact we made it ourselves. The farmhouse is pictured-perfect, nestled in a hillside above a valley lined with vines which slopes up to the pale stone, walled town of Chianciano Terme. My room has double doors which open out on to a flower-filled terrace overlooking a swimming pool and Steano’s patch of land. It’s a family run business – his mother is picking vegetables in the garden while his father mows between the vines. It’s an idyllic, peaceful setting far away from any tourists hordes. And to my delight, food and drink are never far away. Stefano is on a mission to educate and he treats us to an olive oil tasting, showing us how to suck it sharply through our teeth to get the full flavour. All ingredients, where possible, are grown on the farm and he demonstrates the difference between the mechanically-produced oil we are all used to and his beautiful home-pressed version. The next day we are up early and, after warm, jam-filled croissants and coffee, are driven to meet guide Andreas, who takes us on a bike ride around Lake Montepulciano. Luckily for me, it’s fairly flat terrain with beautiful views across the reed-framed lake, but at 14 miles, it’s enough for us to feel we’re working off at least a couple of last night’s courses and be thankful for our dodgy padded shorts. Before our calorie level drop, we make a lunch stop at a trattoria where we are brought huge plates of cheese, meats and bruschetta. The farm’s red wine keeps on flowing. Back at the farm, another four-course meal follows, with local cheese and pickles from the farm’s larder, an omelette of freshly-laid eggs sprinkled with truffle, cannelloni made with faro – a Tuscan grain – and creamy fruit pudding. I don’t eat meat, which Stefano was surprisingly relaxed about, but those chewing on rabbit ragu and buffalo steaks seemed as happy as I was. The farm’s red wine, served in huge carafes, is also delicious and keeps flowing as fast as we can knock it back. Then Stefano, the perfect host, breaks out homemade Vin Santo and grappa. Another morning we are taken to the UNESCO heritage site of Val d’Orcia,  a region which typifies Tuscany with tall rows of cypress tress surrounding hilltop farms and medieval towns crowned by churches. Stopping for lunch in the town of Pienza, where the local speciality is pecorino) cheese made from ewe’s milk), I find a new favourite way of eating cheese – grilled in a salty slab. I love lounging on the beach with a book as much as the next woman. But I’m surprised to find it’s just as relaxing to eat and learn historic towns and unspoiled countryside and get to know some locals. In world increasingly interested in a sustainable, local experience instead of the more bling excesses of previous decades, this feels like a very modern holiday. Just leave the diet at the door ì these guys are serious about their food. VICOTRIA WATSON


CONDIVIDI