On Thursday morning, we took the train to Florence and were met there by Piero & Polly Bronzi who Michael met a few years ago when here for a conference. They drove us about 30 miles outside of Florence, thru vineyards and olive groves, and stopped at their BEAUTIFUL Villa.
This house has quite a history…..Just across the valley, there is a castle called Santa Maria Novella which housed the Vatican in 1200+. The Germans were trying to invade this area so a watchtower was built as a defensive position. After the conflict was resolved, the watchtower was no longer needed, so additions were made to turn the structure into a dwelling. The first addition (to the right of the tower) was in the 1500’s and the final one in the late 1800’s. It was used as a place to house oxen, chicken, rabbits and sheep….ie….a barn, with the family living on the floors above the barn.
Piero and Polly purchased it in the 1990’s and completely remodeled the interior, turning it into a beautiful home. They were not allowed to make modifications to the exterior of the building, but made major renovations to the inside. It is probably one of the coolest houses that I have ever seen!!!! They have lived and traveled extensively in their life and every nook and cranny is filled with wonderful treasures. Sometime before we leave I plan to make a photographic exploration of the entire house.
Piero was trained in the area of agricultural economics and was employed throughout the years by the Ford Foundation, the United Nations and the World Bank, as well as being a professor in Montpellier France. His wife, Polly, is an American who studied French and Italian and they met here in Italy. They have made Tuscany their home but their children both live in the US.
They are wonderful hosts, and have told us so many wonderful stories about their life and about the area around us.
We are staying in the “guest apartment” which is located on the right side of the photo above…… The headboard was made from a door taken from a Jewish building in one of the Muslim countries that they lived in. The building was being demolished and they were asked if they wanted the door…..it is gorgeous.
…..and….this is the view from our bedroom window!!!!!
We spent the afternoon touring the house (photos to come) and talking about the area. About 5pm, Polly moved to the kitchen and started preparing our dinner. The first step was to get a pork roast ready to cook. She first cut slices into the roast and inserted slivers of garlic. Then she coated the entire roast with a salt/rosemary mixture and then placed it in a roasting pan sitting on top of a bed of fresh rosemary and sage.
Whenever she needed herbs, she would simply disappear outside for a few minutes and come back with fresh stuff. She then popped the roast into the oven for about an hour. She then added potato wedges that had been coated with olive oil and more rosemary sprigs and cooked the entire dish for about another hour.
While this was going on, she sautéed some eggplant and added fresh tomatoes to it and cooked them together for a few minutes. The final dish was fresh apples that were cooked and slightly spiced. Here is a view of the meal….
Piero asked if we wanted some wine and when we replied positively, he took us down to his wine cellar. He goes to the local wineries and buys wine in bulk….each containing 54 liters.
He decants the wine into a smaller container which holds 5 liters. Again the surface is covered with liquid paraffin. When he is ready to decant the liquid into liter bottles for serving, he gently suctions off the paraffin……
…uses a piece of raffia to sop up the extra paraffin…..
……and then pours it up into 1 or 2 liter bottles.
He told us that each liter cost about 1 Euro ($1.25)!!!!! He also said that it would last for 1 or 2 months in the smaller bottles.
Here are a few favorite photos of the day…..