Italy travelogue, part XXIII

A pretty perfect final day–hot, sunny and breezy. After my workout  and a big, gorgeous peach, I do a little packing, a little organizing. Then BW,  Kat and I go of to La Foce with its big beautiful villa and gardens, its olive  groves, and its smallish–we’re told–olive oil business. It’s a nice drive,  fairly close, with Kat competently behind the wheel.
 
We don’t even get lost!
 
At a big archway leading to a courtyard there’s a sign, in Italian  and English. For olive oil tasting hit bell hard. LOL. There’s a big bell and a  hammer/striker. BW does the honors, and it tolls very, very loudly. 
 
We see people–kids. This part of the estate is also a kind of  B&B with several apartments for guests. Looks like a lovely place to stay. A  Brit couple manages it, and the woman answers the gong.
 
We wait briefly for her husband, and he takes us around, into a  good-sized basement area and the olive pressing equipment. A couple big, shiny  tankish things, a few big shiny vats. Since I tell him I do want to know, he  explains how it’s all done, from harvesting on Old Soul’s day with tools that  look like hands to the pressing machine that makes what he calls green pudding,  then the filtering, separating the slurry from the oil. The slurry, after a year  as it’s initially too strong–goes back into the soul as compost. Nothing’s  wasted.
 
They get about one bottle from each tree, which explains why they  have a thousand or so.
 
The oil never sees the light of day after going in the presser  until the can or bottle is opened.
 
We sample the four different oils they make–and a fifth that’s a  special blend of the four. Tiny little plastic cups, and you just toss the oil  back like a shot of tequila. The first is strong and peppery. I like it! Each  has a slightly different flavor, so we pick our favorites and buy some to take  home.
 
I ask him how long he’s lived here, expecting him to say years. 13  months only. They came for three months, as temporary managers during a  transition, loved it and talked the owner into keeping them on.

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The grounds, the buildings, the view? I can understand why they  wanted to stay on.
 
Back to our own villa. Kat and Jason are going on a last  adventure–another castle we can see high on a hill. I boil up some rigatoni and  toss it in some of Antonella’s wonderful red sauce. BW polishes off the last of  the risotto. A pretty, quiet last lunch looking out over the  hills.
 
Some reading, a little more packing, some walking to take in all  the views again.
 
Antonella’s here, fixing dinner. We requested some of our  favorites–a hard choice–for our ‘last supper’. I enjoy some conversation with  her, have some wine, hang out with my gang. We take a fun, trick photo–a  panarama. Jason at the camera, the rest of us posing on the west side of the  lawn looking out. As he pans away, we run  behind him, then plop down in  the chairs BW’s arranged, and are in the photo again on the other side. 
 
Our last sunset is beautiful, soft reds spreading.
 
Dinner is another marvel.
 
Asia comes, and as we’ve expressed interest, bring her two  dogs–both hounds she’s rescued. The first she’s had about a year–a little  thing, sweet as they come who was, she tells us, abandoned as too often hunting  dogs are in the area. Very sick and starving when Asia found her. The bigger  dog, so, so skinny, she found only last week. She takes her to the vet every day  for treatment as she has kidney issues right now. Such a sweet face, and so  gentle and calm. She’s already gained two kilos under Asia’s  care.

I liked Asia right away, but like her even more for her open and  generous heart.
 
We follow tradition and have a last drink with Asia and  Antonella–we’ll miss them!
 
Off to bed just as the moon rises over the trees to the north  east.
This morning, it’s finish packing, a final breakfast, then off  to the airport for the long trip home.
 
We couldn’t have asked for a more perfect two-week holiday, from  the bustle of art-washed Florence, to the absolute glory of the Tuscan  countryside.
 
Nora

9 thoughts on “Italy travelogue, part XXIII”

  1. Thank you for sharing your experiences with us. I first discovered your stories in the 80s and have read almost everything you have published.
    Ann

  2. The glory of the Tuscan countryside..so inspiring. I have yearned to visit for so long; your descriptions and thoughts about this two week marvel urge me to book my own Tuscan adventure. More like a respite from stress and a full brain, for me. And I am. Thank you for the prod, through your words and experiences. They have become cement for the dream. Welcome home to your late summer garden.

  3. I have loved reading about Italy through the eyes of you and your family! My husband and I had the chance to go in 2011 and reading what was written here, brought a great deal of our trip back to me. Thank you for sharing with us!

    Diane

  4. Love that picture of Nora “framed” in the window. Tuscany, obviously, agrees with her.
    A Safe and rested return home to all of you.
    Thank you Laura for keeping us updated in Nora’s adventures in Italy 2013 🙂
    Teresa

  5. I’m so grateful for the fun vicarious experience & a little sad that this meant “arrivederci!”
    The field trip sounded delightful. I’m stuck on two things: one bottle per tree & the oil not seeing the light of day until it is opened. The first tells me I would have gaged it waaay wrong. The second makes me curious. Why exactly is that?
    I feel as though I would also like to give Antonella, Asia, & her doggies a hug goodbye! Just so sad to leave all that deliciousness!
    Wishing the whole gang a safe trip home!

  6. I so enjoyed reading about Nora’s trip!! How wonderful that she would share with us. The descriptions of the days spent exploring and the wonderful pictures were certainly a treat. When I finished my cancer treatments just a few weeks ago, my husband took me on a 3 week trip to visit my grandsons and then to the Chicago area and on to my home state of New Jersey to visit with friends and cousins and neices and their families. It was a wonderful trip for me after a year of going nowhere. But to read about Florence and wonderful Tuscany, it makes you appreciate the beautiful things there are in life to experience. I hope one day to be able to see Florence and to visit Tuscany. A bucklist vacation for sure! Thanks Nora and I can’t imagine anyone reading this travelogue and not wanting to make a trip to these two fabulous places!!

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