Our customary factory visit yields soft cashmere blends in earthy hues that reflect the surrounding countryside – chestnut, indigo, olive. Maurizio and his wife welcome us with tiny cups of espresso on a tray. This lovely ritual both comforts me and expresses the essence of convivio that is Italy.
Tuscany is at the heart of the slow-food movement here in Italy. At Barco Reale in Carmignano we savor local lento favorites like braised rabbit, hand-rolled pici, and simple savory beans with pancetta. Regional wines are served alla spina for tasting, by the glass, in a clay pitcher, or of course, by the bottle. No English here, you must bravely use your Italian and hope to be understood.
It is very warm and often HOT here under the legendary Tuscan sun. Black thunderclouds move in and convulsive cleansing rains sweep the hills. Then more sun. And so it goes.
We visit Pontormo’s restored Visitation – 1528, depicting an intense encounter between Mary and her cousin Elizabeth as both reveal they are pregnant. The painting is even more expressive than we remember.
Visitation is both Pontormo and Carmignano’s most famous work of art, an extraordinary must-see. The Visitation is a convenient obsession for us as we always stay in the wonderful Hotel San Michele across the square.
Informal wine tastings in late afternoon provide a civilized close to the business day. At the moment, Dave is drinking a soulful and minerally glass of Vermentino with a plate of house-cured prosciutto. It is parecchio lento, “quite slow,” here in the Tuscan Hills, a home to which we will always return. •
Next up – Firenze!