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Sunday at Casa Bellavista

Posted on www.gourmetstation.com
Posted: March 28, 2010
by: Dave, Edie & Simonetta

The warm rays of the Tuscan sun peeking through the shutters of la camera verde called us to a new day at Casa Bellavista. As we opened them we overlooked the olive grove and fruit orchard. The sun cast lazy silhouettes of trees on the soft green carpet below.

Casa Bellavista , a Tuscan Bed and Breakfast sits on a hilltop once occupied by the Romans. W ritten record of the homestead dates to the second half of the 18 th century, when Casa Bellavista was a farm producing extra virgin olive oil, grains, and tobacco used for the famous Toscana cigar.

Giving its visitors a commanding 360 degree view of Tuscan hill towns and the Val di Chiana, it is an ideal place to spend a sunny Sunday. The side yard, which overlooks the hill town of Montepulciano and majestic Monte Amiata, is an ideal location to enjoy breakfast, offering its usual fare of fruit, meats, cheeses, breads and homemade jams as well as delicious Italian coffee and a homemade torta. After this bountiful breakfast and “taking the coffee”, we take a leisurely walk along country roads.

Upon our return, Guido, Simonetta's husband, was busy preparing the porcini mushrooms

which we purchased the day before from a roadside vendor. We had been returning from Poppi and noticed him. Not being able to resist the display of his produce, we stopped. By the time we got onto the autostrada, we had negotiated for and purchased an entire box of porcini mushrooms as well as chestnuts. Now Guido was preparing them with bay leaves, oil, garlic, salt and pepper. After some time in the oven he would serve them with a drizzle of olive oil and servings of the chianina beef which we purchased earlier at the macelleria in Sinalunga.

To grill the Chianina beef, Guido built a fire of c ypress wood fire in the fire place. Soon our lunch was ready…the porcini mushrooms, the Chianina beef and an insalata from their garden. For dolce we enjoyed a simple offering of roasted chestnuts and vin santo .

An important part of the Tuscan culture is the festa del villaggio , a festival celebrating the joy of community. After a brief riposo we headed to the community of Fratticiola, a short ride down the winding road from Casa Bellavista. The narrow streets were lined with local farmers offering their products for sale. As visitors to the festa we had choices to make. Would we buy some wine or perhaps some honey? The locally made formaggio and sciacciata along with the porchetta were also tempting us.

But, there was more to see…more to experience. As we walked along the street, we were approached by a team of Chianina Beef Cattle pulling a cart loaded with people enjoying the celebration. There were displays of hand painted antique farms carts which caught our eye.

The smell of roasting chestnuts over open fires filled our senses. In the distance we could hear the sound of a live band and see people dancing in the street.

Families laughed together, young couples walked arm in arm as they enjoyed the festa and the nonni present shared knowing smiles and memories with one another.

Later that evening, back at Casa Bellavista, we relaxed in the side yard, under the Tuscan moon and enjoyed some of the wine and cheese we bought at the festa di Fratticiola . U na bella domenica in Toscana… It was a beautiful Sunday in Tuscany.

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Dave and Edie

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