Saturday, December 27, 2014

The Roman Avenue?

Revealing the past

The 'Roman Road' when we first discovered it in 2005
Our first explorations at Le Ripe over 10 years ago were motivated by curiosity and caution. Our curiosity requires little explanation: we were about to acquire 30 hectares of wooded land; it is obvious we wanted to investigate. Our caution was owing to experience. So many times, on our quest for a home in Tuscany, were beautiful ruins revealed to be duds: one house situated beneath perilous-looking, overhanging cliffs; another not far from a pylon; wandering around yet another revealed giant pipes and steam vents connected to the boric acid and geothermal energy stations near Larderello; a short walk from another beautiful house opened onto the freeway and its collection of factories in the valley below: you name it, we found it. 
the top section of the 'Roman Road', in 2005

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

David and the Quakes

 Goliath returns
It could be the name of a 60s pop band, but instead the topic of this post is Michelangelo's David and the earthquakes which are currently making Florence and Chianti tremble.
epicentre near Greve in Chianti
From Friday December 19th 2014 two earthquakes of a reasonable if not terrifying magnitude (3.5 and 4.1 on the Richter scale) and multiple tremors have been unsettling the Chianti area directly south of Florence. Our dear Greve in Chianti, the delightful market town, cultural and logistical centre of the Chianti wine-growing district, is near the epicentre.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Apprenticeships in Tuscany

Masters, Journeymen and Apprentices in the 21st century

Tuscany in general and Florence in particular still today preserve precious pockets of working artisans, master craftsmen in various branches of the Arti e Mestieri (arts and trades) of old, who are the heirs and embodiment of traditions dating back to the Middle Ages.

The major guilds of medieval Florence: judges, lawyers and notaries; merchants, finishers and dyers of imported cloth; bankers and money-changers; wool manufacturers and merchants; silk weavers and merchants; physicians and apothecaries; furriers and skinners

The middle guilds: butchers and graziers; shoemakers; blacksmiths; master stonemasons and woodcarvers; linen manufacturers, cloth dealers and tailors; the minor guilds: vintners; innkeepers; oil merchants and grocers; curriers and tanners; armourers and swordsmiths; saddlers and harness-makers; carpenters; locksmiths, toolmakers and braziers; bakers and millers

If you walk around the area of Santo Spirito, and many other parts of the historic centre of Florence, you will come across dark workshops where elderly artisans are carving, cutting, etching, planing, turning, joining, moulding, plastering, painting, stitching, hammering, weaving, sculpting, restoring, as well as displaying and selling.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

The Return of the Wolf III

 Lupus in Fabula 
 or 'Speak of the Devil'

We have good reason to suppose that wolves are inhabiting or at least hunting in our neck of the woods. In the heart of Chianti where, despite our extensive woodlands, civilization (farmhouses, villas, roads, vineyards, olive groves, gardens, villages and towns) makes itself firmly felt. This phenomenon seems to be corroborated by a recent article in The Guardian newspaper.

 Locals have firm evidence that our deer have met their natural predator. The carcass of a roe deer was found mauled, amputated and gutted against a neighbour's fence. The desperate deer had sought refuge inside the fence but was caught, halfway to safety.