July 19, 2018
I will start the tale of this few days not from the moment of my arrival, with greetings and meetings. I will start from the moment I got off my room, just left the bags after a 2 hours travel by car from Florence.
As I stepped out of the building, up on the stairs a cape of heat and light caught my attention over the landscape of Maremma.
We arrived there at 20:00, when the cicades were about to leave their concert to the wise legs of the crickets (which are my favorite sound in the Tuscan summer nights).
In that part of Tuscany the heat feels just like I said as something wrapping your whole body, it is so intense that I give up on 'fighting it' and just let my self stroll into it.
We stayed at Rocca di Montemassi. This wine farm is situated in a place called 'Pian dei Bichi', in a very rural area, with a few buldings around, down in the 'high-Maremma' area. Basically what you can see there, it's part of the 190 hectars of vineyards, where they produce their own white and rosè wine.
The landscape of Maremma has a type of hill which is flat and large, very different from Val d'Orcia's one.
The whole area is one of the most wild of Tuscany, and for this reason it keeps its pure, untouched, wild essence. Come here in summer to let your nose and lungs enjoy the smell of the hay and mediterrean pine trees, together with the scent of herbs bushes,drying under the sun. The silent surrounding Rocca di Montemassi is what I was looking for to recover after a very tough week.
The staff is both very present if you need them but at the same time is quite careful, and anyways the estate is big enough to host a good number of visitors and still looking like not busy.
On saturday morning I got up and jumped out of bed for a yoga practice that I was missing since too many days!
I carried my own things and set up my practice right in the garden, next to the willow above the little lake.
Well, that sounds very idyllic.. but it truly was !And to be honest, the beauty of that scene, it was my little secret reward, as after a week full of work not only the stress level was at the stars, but also I neglected the practice with a bad side-effect both on the body and on the mind. One of the biggest teachment of yoga's position is to "create space", and when you do learn it about your body, you see that actually your mind is learning the same thing. So basically I was running out of a more general and important intention in my life: making space for things you like and which are good for your self. Including yoga. The excuse "I have no time" means I am going out of my goal.
I had chosen that beautiful place for my relaxing week-end, I was feeling so fine that I did see all that amazing and vibrant nature around as a kind of 'prize'.
The energy of the morning air definetly helped and encouraged the practice.
Summer mornings are still fresh in june and that's the only moment to enjoy yoga out-side. Here at Rocca they are really open to do these kind of activity, the garden is there for visitors and (of course respecting people and the place it-self) you can basically do whatever activity you want!
After yoga, I spot Claudia, the cook, which was about to go somewhere: she was next to go picking the veggies for lunch right from the farm's garden.
In that moment Giacomo, my boyfriend, was getting downstairs too so we both went with Claudia to 'spy' a bit of that morning routine of her.
I love the idea that what we have been eating for the whole time it comes from the garden. They do use a particular care for the products they bring on our table.
What they do not produce is bought from farmers they know around the place, and of which they have been tasting products since long time now (like cheese for example).
Veggies and fruit are from Rocca, as well as the meat is.
They are growing the Vacca Maremmana, which is the typical wild cow of Maremma.
It's not easy to deal with this breed, they have always been preserving a strong personality, they don't let them-selves be catched in small or internal cages otherwise they would become quite aggressive.
Personally I do amire this animal so much for the sensuality of thier shape in white and warm gray colours, and even more for this strong attitude to freedom and independence.
Rising up the hills there's also the shed and stable with pigs and horses.
How big is this farm? I actually wondered about and asked to the guys: it's 430 hectars (190 of which are planted with vines).
To visit it all there's a nice ring you can walk from the main building to the sheds through the vineyards, but we actually skipped the walk with Rocca's jeep ! I love walking but it was too hot at midday to go on foot!(lovely that they paied attentions to that).
Wind in the hair, crazy loud cicadas, Mediterrean Pine lines and endless vineyards all around, that's the country-side that I love! The magic happens right on top of the hills where I could breathe a more intense smell of salty air ( the sea is not far from Rocca di Montemassi).
Maremma has some kind of 'abandoned mood' due to the peace of the country-side and also the lack of tourism masses. Into that peace, gazing at the flat landscape I start thinking about our ancient ancestors: the etruscans, who were the 'tuscans' at the time of Romans.
As for a rule which easily shows up: big quantity means small quality. So when our cities, experience, territory get conquerred by the mass tourism their autenticity starts to fade. Here that authentic touch is still safe, I would say, especially for the hinterland. Maremma's people are a lot into agricolture. In summer time you are going to spot a lot of fruit stands along the streets, not to mention the huge sunflowers fields, and fruit-trees gardens.
One hour later from the jeep tour we were starving and get back to the main building to have lunch.
I ate those flowers of zucchini that I picked up in the morning with Giacomo and Claudia!
In italy we have a saying: "Also fried shoes are good!". And that's more or less my relation-ship with fried things! Lunch was indeed delicious, tasted under the shadow, with silence around exept for the company of the crew who was with us!
I loved to have them around for a meal as they spontaneously end up talking about their biggest passion: wine! We had a different bottle for every course and -as I learnt from the very first moment- wine is an fascinating path, from the earth to the glass! The art of wine-making has numbers of technical names. The charm of the knowledge behind wine world is something I am slowly learning, and it truly was the key-note of this stay in maremma.
That same evening,feeling super spoiled, I didn't miss the opportunity to have a personal Aperitivo here in the garden with the Syrosa, the rosè wine produced at Rocca.
We were alone, in the golden hour, and after weeks of hard work finally, me and Giacomo we could enjoy some chilling time together. A bit relieved that the heat was gone and getting ready to slowly direct to our special dinner date.
The plan was to have dinner there and go to bed early, but hey, we rested the whole day! So following the crew suggestions we ended up at Marula Beach, which is, let me say this, soooo coool!
It's a restaurant directly on the beach where we had a refined and excellent dinner.
Also the people there are really nice. I worked as a waitress time ago, and I do notice bad and good service: to me it's one of the first things and a reason to be back or not. So 100% recommended, and if you are wondering about the prices yes they are medium-high, as actually the quality of food and the priviledged position deserve.
On our second day at the farm we basically walked a bit around in the early morning.
If you find your-self at Rocca di Montemassi in summer time you can't miss the seaside including the old villages around the cost, some real gems of this untouched part of Tuscany.
We said bye to the kindest crew I met so far, and take our car: direction Castiglion della Pescaia!
Up on a hill (love high-on-top villages!), with the best view on the whole cost and such cute, built-in-stones alleys, here we are: Castiglion della Pescaia.
The houses look like they are small, cozy and having that warm-mediterrean-welcoming-factor! With roof terraces above the sea, perfect stages for the most romantic sunsets.
Do you ever play the game of imagining what it is lto live in a house you just spot along the way and you wish it was yours? I do, all the time, cities and villages.. and I definetly would have had a little small one made in stones, decored by walls of vines or flowers.
We also tried to reach the baths down at the beach, and we actually made it but it was too crowded for what we like to be a day at the beach. Our fault then! We really arrived late(14:30) , and you must know that at baths you need to arrive in the morning to get the best position, close to the sea and enjoy some more peace.
The travel back to Florence has gone by, driving along amazing fields and an awesome countryside. I won't tell you enough that Maremma truly preserves an untouched nature, the presence of tourism is much less respect to cities and well known places (Isola d'Elba, Florence, San Gimignano, Chianti,ecc..)
Both the nature and the villages kept some more authenticity just like Castiglion della Pescaia, Capalbio, Pitigliano and more.
The only side effect is that many places are not ready to properly welcome visitors as one maybe expects( like having air conditioned, someone always around if you need help or suggestions, 100% care for food all home-made and self-growned, and least but not last the kindness with costumers).That's why I am glad I found Rocca di Montemassi where I had the most relaxing time, close to the locals life, amazing wine and km 0 food; definetly my ,'base-camp' when in high Maremma!
Rocca di Montemassi: http://www.roccadimontemassi.it/
More M&T blog posts about Maremma: https://www.meandtuscany.com/blogs/news/what-to-visit-in-a-week-end-in-maremma
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