Back to the walking again today, with another outing planned from Fattoria Voltrona round the local countryside – this time taking in the long, low ridge on the far side of the valley.
Needless to say it was another burning hot morning, so we took it easy as we headed out. The first stretch followed the same route as we took on the walk to San Gimignano, through the vineyards and olive groves to Montauto.
From here we turned south to cross the valley. The stream at the bottom was bone dry: interesting considering that in wine production there are strict rules governing the irrigation of vines. At one junction we took a slight detour, testing all the options before hitting on the right one. As we began to climb on to the ridge the views back to Voltrona and Montauto began to open up.
Following the crest of the ridge was easy enough, with clear tracks pretty much all the way – sometimes out in the open, and sometimes in the cool beneath the trees.
The shady woodlands had another use besides cooling overheated walkers. Local wine producers would dig into the earth to create an impromptu wine cellar, and in some cases these have become quite elaborate.
Out in the open the views continued to be extensive, with San Gimignano visible in the distance.
Another thing we noticed here was the presence of a significant crop other than vines or olive trees.
We passed through the tiny hamlet of Cluciano. With a bit of imagination and a healthy budget this fixer-up could be gorgeous.
Shortly afterwards we dropped downhill, crossed the busy Route 47 road and picked up a path through dense, scrubby woodland. Without the breeze it was hot and humid and, with no views to alleviate the discomfort, it was not the most pleasant half-mile. Then we burst out into the open by an olive grove. Sitting in the shade beneath their branches, Anthony produced a copious picnic from his rucksack. Sliced ham and Wild Boar salami, chunks of Pecorino cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, stuffed olives and fresh fruit – wonderful!
It was a slightly overstuffed bunch who trundled into the tiny hamlet of San Donato sometime later, location of the second wine tasting of the trip at the Fattoria San Donato. In contrast to the Tuscan wine school, this was organic wine and olive oil production on an artisan scale. Despite the rustic situation, the produce was top notch – as the subsequent tasting proved. In the heat of the day, the chilled Vernaccia was just bliss!
Having been tempted to stock up but limited in luggage capacity (we settled for a business card instead!) all that remained was the last mile back to Voltrona. A decent swim went some way towards subtracting a few of the day’s calories, then it was dinner on the terrace again at the Voltrona. As the following day was our free day a late night was had, and a large quantity of Chianti was consumed.