Monday, May 26, 2014

The House of the Red Roses

La Casa delle Rose Rosse

At the edge of the village of Lucarelli, which lies along the valley below Le Ripe, stands a large stone house where some friendly, helpful locals live. The family kindly brought their tractor up to Le Ripe one day when the man who sometimes delivers wood got stuck in the mud.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Home produce

The Egg of the Goose and other Good Things

goose eggs next to hen's

A friend has given us three goose eggs. The shell is thick and has to be cracked open with decision. The yolks are huge and deep yellow. Three eggs make an excellent omelette for four. And there is little difference in flavour between this and a good, fresh hen's egg.

This year we are not growing any vegetables in our vegie patch as it is being turned into a medieval garden or hortus conclusus, and the new vegie patch is being constructed, raised beds and all. There will be no magnificent tomatoes or freshest lettuce this summer as we shall have to wait for the notorious fence (see side column) before planting anything deer might desire. However the strawberries and rhubarb in the old vegie patch continue to thrive and the walls of climbing roses are tall and full of buds.

Friday, May 16, 2014


a sampling of May's wild blooms

Je dois peut-être aux fleurs d’avoir été peintre.
 'I perhaps owe having become a painter to flowers.' 
Claude Monet

wildflower posy with camomile, pinks, osyris, thyme, amongst others - thank-you Angèle

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Tuscan Bread

Dante and the Mystery of the Salt-less Bread

Cacciaguida speaks with Dante (in blue) in Paradise. Padua, Biblioteca del Seminario, ms. 67.

In Paradise XVII of the Divina Commedia Dante hears a prophecy about his (ostensibly future) exile. Cacciaguida tells the Poet:  

Tu proverai sì come sa di sale
lo pane altrui...

You are to know the bitter taste
of others' bread, how salt it is...
trans. Mandelbaum 

Naturally this may simply be a metaphor, but as anyone who has spent time in this part of the world will know, Tuscan bread is without salt. It is made from flour, water and yeast and there is NO salt whatsoever, not even a pinch. 
a Tuscan loaf

Saturday, May 10, 2014

A New World Heritage 'Site' in Tuscany

Now we are seven

Since 2013 Tuscany can boast seven UNESCO World Heritage Cultural Sites. In addition to the historical centres of Florence; Siena; San Gimignano and Pienza; the Cathedral Square of Pisa, known as Piazza dei Miracoli (and who could deny the miracle?); as well as the 'cultural landscape' of the Val d'Orcia; now twelve Medici Villas and two Gardens are collectively on the list.

Giardino del Cavaliere, Knight's Garden, Boboli Gardens Florence

UNESCO's reasons for embracing the villas as a world cultural heritage site are as follows: 

Twelve villas and two gardens spread across the Tuscan landscape make up this site which bears testimony to the influence the Medici family exerted over modern European culture through its patronage of the arts. Built between the 15th and 17th centuries, they represent an innovative system of construction in harmony with nature and dedicated to leisure, the arts and knowledge. The villas embody an innovative form and function, a new type of princely residence that differed from both the farms owned by rich Florentines of the period and from the military might of baronial castles. The Medici villas form the first example of the connection between architecture, gardens, and the environment and became an enduring reference for princely residences throughout Italy and Europe. Their gardens and integration into the natural environment helped develop the appreciation of landscape characteristic of Humanism and the Renaissance.  ...from UNESCO site.

Sound the trumpets, roll the drums! The twelve villas are: 

Friday, May 2, 2014

The Beasts of Le Ripe

Local Fauna, a Taxonomy

Indigenous and introduced, the wildlife at Le Ripe, and in Chianti generally, is varied and abundant. This list only covers interesting four-legged mammals, for birds have been discussed in detail elsewhere: see posts on starlings, bird visitors, the nightingale and feeding birds while bees and a magnificent spider also make appearances in other posts. Traces of all the mammals below have been found in one form or another, and most have been sighted, at one time or another, at Le Ripe.

Wild Boar - Sus Scrofa

Of course this is really a wild sow; the mothers tend to move about in the company of one or two other mothers, with all their young, a kind of mothers and toddlers playgroup. The only time to fear the boar is when the mothers are protecting their young.

Crested Porcupine - Hystrix Cristata

The two most frequent traces of the porcupine: its striped quills which fall out easily when the animal is threatened; and the filching of bulbs from the garden. Bulbs are a special treat for porcupines.