I was 10 years old when I first went to the medieval joust Giostra del Saracino and I still remember fondly the colours and excitement of the people in the Piazza.
It has since then become an annual “not to be missed” event for my family, especially because my father has been a Capitano (chief) and my husband a Cavaliere (knight) whose team won the re-enactment in 1999. The Saracen joust is a historical event dating back to the XV century, when mounted Knights fought the Saracen enemy.
In the past, Knights had evocative names such as “Moon Knight” and “Sun Knight” and modern-day celebrations see five contradas fighting “the enemy” for glory in this traditional reenactment:
San Bartolomeo – white and purple
Sant’Andrea – blue and red
San Lorenzo – white and red
San Martino – blue and white
Santissima trinità – yellow and purple
The event starts with a medieval parade throughout the city centre whereby the mounted knights are introduced to the public. People follow the parade as it heads to the Piazza where the flag throwing games begin, and later, the Joust takes place.
During the summer, a lot of activities are centered around the Giostra. Every weekend from mid July onwards, you can enjoy the Festa della Contrada with music and food from each Contrada in the streets. A few days before the Giostra, a medieval banquet is organized in the castle with fire-eaters and jesters entertaining the guests.
The “Tratta dei Bossoli” held in the main square on the 11 August decides the order of the Contrada during the Giostra.
The week-end following the 15th of August the winning Contrada celebrates the Palio with more festivities and sometimes fireworks!
If you are in the area around the 15th of August then these events are a must see – you’ll have a wonderful time and bring back not only amazing pictures, but very special memories too.
Pienza has its share of lovely restaurants but whenever we are there, whether it is for business or pleasure, we make stop off at Sette di Vino which offers superb casual dining in a relaxed and traditional environment.
Sette di Vino is a tiny Trattoria and winery just off the main Piazza, and has a lovely outside dining area which is a perfect al-fresco dining option, and great for ‘people watching’. Luciano is on hand to recite the menu and help with dining suggestions and wine pairing whilst you take in your quaint surroundings.
Sette di Vino is not your typical Italian restaurant: there’s no pasta, pizza or steaks on the menu – instead there is a wonderful selection of crostini, soups, salads, sausages, cold cuts as well as local and seasonal cheeses – this makes a trip to Osteria Sette di Vino a truly unique experience and that’s why we keep going back.
We highly recommend to book as the locals go here and often you arrive and find all the tables with the “Riservato” (booked) tag on.
Quattro Archi set in the hearth of the “Crete Senesi” with wonderful views of the surrounding countryside.
The villa has been restored keeping all the original feature and with great attention to the details. The owners have furnished the villa with the antique furniture belonging to the family to create the old atmposphere of the typical Tuscan Villa Padronale.
A cypresses lined access road leads from the main road to the Villa.
Quattro archi is part of a big working farm that produces a high quality wine. The owner, who runs the farm together with his wife, will be delighted to arrange a walking through the wine yards and the olive trees and explain you the making of the wine and the extra virgin olive oil.
As a personal and warm welcome to this villa, Tuscan Views is delighted to offer to its guests a complimentary Tuscan dinner on the arrival day (wine not included).
Quattro Archi is the perfect villa for family reunion, gathering and holidays with friends.
There are three weeks left in 2012 and Tuscan Views is offering a special last minute weekly price of € 6,500 instead of € 10,250.
Spirito di…Vino is a family owned Osteria located in a small hamlet 10 minutes away from Sarteano.
This old stable has been restored with great attention to detail to create a cozy and warm Tuscan atmosphere. Chef Simona prepares delicious dishes using local and seasonal products.
Our favorite appetizers include the Tagliere with pecorino and cold cuts and the Crostoni, toasted bread with pecorino cheese, tomatoes and lardo and our favourite main course is the Chianina Tagliata with lardo and pecorino seasoned in grotto.
If you’re visiting during the summer season, the delicious gnocchi with burrata and pachino tomatoes is a must try, whilst Simona’s tasty onion and pecorino soups are great warmers during the cooler early spring and autumnal months.
Chef Simona is the ‘Queen of desserts’ so make sure you save some room to try her famous Tiramisù with vin santo or perhaps her chocolate cake with orange and mascarpone. Whichever delicious dessert you chose, we’re sure it will leave you wanting more. Your host Luca will guide you through the menu and will be delighted to suggest the best wine for the dish you choose.
The Osteria also has an amazing selection of dessert wines. If you opt for a chocolate dessert, try the “Recioto” wine…You will be blown away!
Via San Giuliano – Casa Bebi, 7 – Loc. Fonte Vetriana – Sarteano (SI) Tel.: 0578 238005 Closed: Tuesdays
Seats up to 30 guests
A ruby colour, a typical scent, a dry, lightly tannic taste stand as its major, successful features. Long regarded as the finest expression of Italian oenology Brunello di Montalcino is produced exclusively from Sangiovese grapes (named “Brunello” in Montalcino). Made according to the standards of a severe discipline that, as well as fixing limits on yields per hectare, the period of obligatory ageing and the characteristics of the product, also establishes that before the wine can be sold it must be subjected to examination by an appropriate commission. The regular Brunello ages 5 years, the Riserva 6 years.
A driver will pick you up at your villa around 9.30 AM and drive you through scenic roads toward the southern country and admire spectacular views of rolling clay hills.
You will reach the wine area of Montalcino crossing a panoramic road through vineyards and olive groves to the first boutique winery.
The owner will welcome you and proudly show you the estate and the cellars and tell more about this old wine making art that belongs to the family since generations. You’ll have the opportunity to taste their outstanding Rosso and Brunello di Montalcino, served with delicious Pecorino cheese and local ham.
You will continue the tour reaching the charming village of Montalcino, take a relaxing stroll and admire wonderful views of the countryside around! A terrific lunch will be served in a typical and family run trattoria, you will enjoy several kind of “antipasti” and then a vegetable soup or hand made pasta, according to the season, all prepared with extra virgin olive oil and served with a nice local wine.
After lunch you will visit the second winery enjoy the visit of the estate and vineyards and then a private tasting of Rosso, Brunello and Supertuscan wines. The return to your villa will be in the afternoon.
Rates all inclusive:
From € 220 per person. Prices vary according to the number of guests.
Just off the Piazza del Popolo is Osteria Osticcio, a lovely family run restaurant, which is a must stop for those who appreciate great food and wine.
The owner Tullio is very passionate about his restaurant and wine shop, and is always happy to host impromptu wine tastings, sharing his expertise and his love for Tuscan cuisine.
Whilst at Osteria Osticco take the time to savour a plate of salami and pecorino cheese whist enjoying amazing views of val D’orcia framed magnificently through the restaurant’s large windows. We’ve tried many things on the menu, and can thoroughly recommend the chicken liver patè canapés, fried vegetables from the owner’s garden, spaghetti with anchovies, olives and cappers, sienese cinta pork salami and prosciutto with donzellette (fried bread) and chocolate fondue with fresh fruits for dessert.
Plus the meal isn’t complete unless you try one of their specialty coffees which are served in a mocha cup with freshly whipped cream and hand-made chocolates. Osteria Osticcio is ideal for people wanting to spend time enjoying freshly prepared Tuscan foods.
When visiting the restaurant, ask if you can have one of the tables next to the large windows so that you can properly appreciate the stunning scenery. Additionally, if you are looking for a dining experience with a difference, then why not arrange for a private wine and olive oil tasting at your table.
The downstairs dining area can accommodate groups of up to 20 people.
The Osteria is closed on Thursdays all day from November 1st to March 31st and is open on Thursdays for lunch only from April 1st to October 31st.
Via Giacomo Matteotti, 23 – Montalcino (Siena) Tel.: 0577 848271