Friday, April 30, 2010
Ethereal, fabled, stunning- these words dance around in my mind as we drive up the cyprus tree-lined path leading to La Petraia. A fully restored and expanded 12th Century farmhouse stands proudly in the distance while the bright purple blossoms of fragrant lavender beckons gently in the breeze, perfuming the air with nature’s aromatherapy. La Petraia, or “Place of Stone” is a special place, made all the more idyllic by Canadians Susan McKenna Grant and her husband Michael Grant.
The couple scoured a few continents for a place to call their own; it had to have architectural integrity, unpolluted land suitable for organic farming and it had to inspire in them a sense of wellbeing. In the rolling Tuscan countryside of Chianti Classico, they found these ideals and more.
After years of painstaking restoration, La Petraia is considered one of Italy’s best agriturismo destinations that also happens to be a bit of a hidden gem (until now). Bon Vivant travelers will get a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the life of this pristine working farm and what it takes to keep centuries-old Tuscan traditions alive. A guided tour of the organic gardens, olive groves and vineyards will wrap up with a walk past the forest where a special herd of Cinta Senese pigs might just “pose” for the camera. This classic heirloom breed (with their distinctive white band or collar) dangerously dipped in numbers until recently when folks like Susan started breeding the free range forest pigs, prized for their rich, lean flavour.
After working up an appetite, the group will be treated to a special “Afternoon Tasting.” Four courses of just-picked, farm-fresh fare will be created for you by Susan herself, who has studied with culinary greats in Italy and France. You’re in for a gustatory delight because I’ve had the pleasure of dining at La Petraia and had one of the finest meals of my entire stay in Tuscany that night.
Tuscan wines will be paired with each course and if you’re lucky, you’ll end your afternoon savouring a piece of heaven on earth as the rose-tinted sun sets over the ancient, verdant hills. And the best part? You’ve got three more days of exploring the region before saying arrivederci to Italia.