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Tuscany, and a little place by the name or Trove

Petroio, Italy

We've been a bit behind on blogs, and have actually been in Tuscany since Tuesday. Our hosts, Ugo and Barbara picked us up from the train station in Orvieto and we drove through the countryside taking the long route back to their house. You know how in movies Tuscany is always portrayed as only consisting of rolling hills covered in vineyards, olive groves, and sunflowers; occasionally interrupted by the Etruscan hill town and towering Cyprus? Yeah...they don't exaggerate. This place is unrealisticly beautiful.

Barbara needed to stop in a bakery on the way home so we pulled up to the village of Pienza and she told us to take a quick walk while she grabbed what she needed, and visit the local cathedral.

The next day we spent acquainting ourselves with Ugo and Barbara, the two cats and two dogs, and what we would be doing while here.

I'll do a detailed blog about their property, Trove, sometime soon but for now here are a few highlights.

Plumbing here consits of a main tap and a well. The first night was a bit humorus until we got the system worked out. Screw baths, shower under the tuscan stars instead.

Ugo needed to make a quick visit to a friend one night and invited us along and then unexpectedly asked if we'd like to be dropped off at a garden created by a professional landscaper who lives in the area. He didn't tell us anything about the place before hand aside from its ying-yang nature, so we felt like we were walking into the twilight zone walking into this place.

This guy must have a thing for Satyrs, they are tucked away everywhere you look in the garden.

Enscribed everywhere are passages, particular words and phrases. Stuff to turn the wheels...I like this guys style

Love yall!

permalink written by  Slade's Elucidation on August 9, 2008 from Petroio, Italy
from the travel blog: Slade's Elucidation
tagged Tuscany, BoscoDellaRagnia, Trove and Petroio

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All about Trove

Petroio, Italy

Trove (Tro-vay) is a 600 or so year old Tuscan farm owned by Ugo and Barbara Mariotti. It sits between the towns of Castelmuzio
and Petroio in the Trequanda district of Tuscany, Italy. They've owned the place for 35 years, though for a long while their time was split between Italy and Australia.

Being so old, the house obviously wasn't originally equipped with pluming or electricity. They've added electricity via cabels and extension cords, and have a line to the city water which is available through the 2 taps in the house; the one upstairs by the kitchen sink and the one downstairs by our room. That's it for running water in the house,our in room plumbing is a pitcher and washbasin.

We've already shown you the shower but I'm sure your just dying to see the toilet...

You do your business in the bucket seat or hole if you prefer, then sprinkle saw dust when your done.

Most Americans would be rather intimidated by this and I cant claim exemption from that, however its really not bad. If it meant having a house like this I'd happily live with a saw-dust toilet the rest of my life :P

Aside from Ugo and Barbara, the house has four other official residents. Billy and Mary Moon the two lovable pups, and the two cats which have names that never get used so I don't know them. They're lovingly referred to as the Damn Ginger Cat and Fluffy.

Mary Moon is neurotically afraid of new people. However, Ugo and Barbara had to leave for a few days soon after we arrived and we were the only source of food and cuddles. Needless to say, she warmed up to us pretty fast. Billy and Ginger are the two most inclined to seek out human companionship and it didn't take long before Ginger was sleeping between James and I on the bed, and Billy had moved his afternoon siesta spot from the workshop area under the house to the cool tiles of the floor in our room. Fluffy spends all day doing god knows what, though we have a sneaky suspicion she might be responsible for this rare breed of tail-less lizards in and around Trove. They look a lot like their more plentiful cousins...only well tail-less.

Come dusk though you'll see her trotting up the lane. At first shes wary of you, but as soon as shes feels your hands on her, shes in your lap nudging every appendage you have for cuddles and drooling on you. Seriously, the cat has drooling problem. But shhhhh, I never told you that...don't want her to be self conscious or anything ;)

Trove has a decent amount of land, boasting its own vineyard and olive groves in addition to several fields for crops and the houses veggi garden.

And prums, lots and lots of prums. Yes, I said prums, NOT plums. It's best you don't ask.

The other day after attending a lunch hosted by the local women (This local festivity brought to you by the communist era in Italy), we were treated with the first actual thunderstorm we've experienced since leaving home. I've missed texas storms, the lightning and thunder.

For more pictures go to our pictures section, scroll to the bottom and click on the tags Tuscany or Trove. The city tags arnt working at the moment so clicking on the city wouldnt work so well :P

The next day we headed to Sienna to go to THE Palio, which i'll tell you all about soon :)

permalink written by  Slade's Elucidation on August 17, 2008 from Petroio, Italy
from the travel blog: Slade's Elucidation
tagged Italy, Tuscany and Trove

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Cellar Slave

Petroio, Italy

Many of you have been wondering what the hell I've been up too here in the wilds of Tuscany. Vino baby, god I love this stuff, rather surprisingly so considering my original antipathy for everything related to wine.

I've been cleaning out the Mariotties cellar, bottling previous vintages, all in preparation for this years harvest which is just around the corner.

It starts by cleaning out the bottles, anything can effect the taste of wine, and the smallest speck of god knows what can turn a whole demijohn of loveliness into vinegar before you could shout Baccus!

I washed all the bottles, and stripped the labels off of many using industrial soda (recycle people!), before drying and crating them to be filled.

Next up you grab a big demijohn from the cellar floor and put it up an the stand. Then you un cork it and suck the oil off the top to see what you have underneath. You top off the wine with oil for preservation reasons. Providing the vino has survived the ageing process your then ready to bottle.

Next you fill up various sizes of your sparkling bottles and then move them over to the 'corker'. Pop a cork in, slap a label on them and then stick them on the shelves.

In the end you wind up with something looking a lot like this.

Things here at Trove are, well, rural. They do not sell any wine commercially, the vines and cellar merely support the Mariottie's yearly Vino needs. Yes. Tuscan families DO need their own vineyard and cellar to provide the years wine... God, can I have a villa in Tuscany, pleaaaaase?!?!?!?!

Don't worry, they dont have to hang out in the dark cellar for very long. The 2007 red is my particular favourite. In the states Id never touch reds, here id plug it into an IV if only my veins had taste buds.

Disclaimer for the Moms reading this:

Nope I'm not an alcoholic. In Italy, it is very shameful to be drunk. A mentality I quite agree with, I hate bring drunk and haven't been in a very very long time. Wine, is just....life... here.

Two weeks and counting until the harvest!! I plan to blog the whole process here at Trove so stay tuned ;)

Peace ya'll,

permalink written by  Slade's Elucidation on September 17, 2008 from Petroio, Italy
from the travel blog: Slade's Elucidation
tagged Italy, Trove, Petroio and WineCellar

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Vendemmia Time!

Petroio, Italy

Vendemmia, Italian for grape harvest.

The vines are starting to turn hues of orange and red, and the grapes are juicy sweet. It's harvest time.

Two days before the harvest was to start we pulled out all the bins, baskets, tubs, and tubes and gave then a good rinsing. Grapes don't like dirt, or soap, so everything gets a good rinse as you put it away after the previous years harvest and again right before this years to insure things are as clean as possible.

The morning of the Vendemmia we had one last thing that needed rinsing, having decided to harvest a day earlier on account of the weather turning. The final thing to wash was the de-stimmer. The name says it all, this machine removes the grapes from the stalks smushing them a bit in the process and them shoots them into the tube you hopefully have aimed into the holding vats. Having quite a force behind it, if the tubes off for cleaning and you don't have a catch bucket over the hole you can shoot dried grape bits leftover from last years harvest quite a way into your nice freshly swept cellar. Blasting anyone in the way. Not that I'd know from experience or anything.... Sorry Paul.

Around noon we headed down to the vineyards to get started. Barbara and Ugo knew this years would be a small harvest thanks to the very dry spring and summer, what they hadn't really counted on was the local deer eating at least half of the grapes they did have this year. Normally they move the dog kennel down to the vineyard so Billy and Mary Moon can chase deer to their hearts content and protect the grapes. Alas that didn't happen this year and as a result there are some very very well fed deer in the area. I think the local poachers owe the Mariottie's a couple venison steaks and such for feeding the damn things.

Regardless of the small yield there were still grapes that needed picking and the whole gang pitched in. Ugo and Barbara of course, James and I, as well as Martine and Paul; another couple here helping who also hail from the land of Oz. Even the animals came to help.

Normally the white and red grapes would be harvested separately for white and red vintages but due to the small quantity this year Ugo and Barbara decided to combine them to make and old school Chianti wine.

Disclaimer, I really have no clue what I'm talking about here. Apparently, before “Winemakers” moved into the area Chianti was made by combining the red,Sangiovese,and white grapes, Malvasia. Doing this would still make a red wine, not a rose or blush, as its the skins of the red grapes that make a red wine red. These days Chianti is primarily just made with the Sangiovese grape.

Back to the harvest, after collecting grapes for a few hours it was time for a picnic lunch in the vineyard and a short rest before collecting the last of the grapes.

After all the grapes were picked the buckets were taken up to the cellar, where we ran them through the de-stimmer and the juice was pumped into the big holding vat where it eventually becomes wine.

There is of course more to that process of grape juice to wine but that's another blog.

Cheers mates ;)

ps To see all the harvest photos click the photos link then scroll to the bottom of the page and find the Vendemmia tag.

permalink written by  Slade's Elucidation on October 7, 2008 from Petroio, Italy
from the travel blog: Slade's Elucidation
tagged Tuscany, Trove and Vendemmia

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