Virtuoso Life - May/June 2018 - 108
back, and I literally need to pull Grandpa Bob away once the conversation turns to della Corta's time as an infantryman in Sardinia.
Getting a grip on the coffee situation may be the other key to living
like a local. In Tuscany, you get your caffeine fix in a bar, not a restaurant. Coffee isn't meant to be idled over, which is why those Italian
cups are tiny and thrown back in a gulp or two. At the Paganico coffee spot that becomes our regular, we learn to ask not for "espresso"
but rather "un caffè, per favore," a single shot with a caramel-colored
layer of crema. You stand (don't sit) to drink it, then move on posthaste. And resist all temptation to order a cappuccino after 10 am.
Cool cars and private villas bring
the party to Tuscany.
GO Rev up Tuscan roads with Auto Europe,
which, along with supplying Fiat models
ranging from compacts to SUVs, can help
travelers assemble convoys of Alfa Romeos,
Maseratis, and Ferraris.
STAY Cuvée's villa and farmhouse estates include such family favorites as La Veduta di
Vertine, a restored sixteenth-century home
with five bedrooms, an outdoor pizza oven, a
bocce court, vegetable gardens, and estatefresh eggs delivered by basket each morning.
From $3,500 per night (minimum three-night
stay), including one chef-prepared breakfast
and a stocked pantry.
Onefinestay's Tuscan villas range from 2 to
20 bedrooms. A recommendation for wine
lovers: Fontanelle, a designer-restored, fivebedroom stone home in the heart of Montalcino wine country with vaulted ceilings
and an outdoor dining terrace overlooking
hills striped with brunello vines. From $939
per night (minimum seven-night stay).
Florentine steak, too, has its sacrosanct traditions. One morning
after coffee, my wife and I take the cousins to the local butcher to procure a few choice cuts to throw onto the villa's wood-fired grill. The
quick errand turns into an impromptu bistecca workshop. Sourced
from the prized Maremmana breed of cattle, the mighty Fiorentina
is a rear loin cut that includes the T-bone. "It must sit an hour outside
the refrigerator before it cooks over red-hot embers," we're told. "Add
nothing but olive oil, salt, and pepper; cook it exactly seven minutes on each side and one minute standing on the bone; and eat right
away." It only takes me three hours of heated preparation - Nonna #1:
"Don't burn yourself!" Nonna #2: "Do you have a fire extinguisher?" -
to make the family think I'm a seasoned Tuscan grill master.
Far more effortless is the excursion on our last full day to Borgo
Santo Pietro, a 200-acre retreat built around an immaculately updated
800-year-old manor house. We stop along the way at San Galgano Abbey, a stunning thirteenth-century Gothic ruin with a roof completely
open to the skies. Here we find another draw for young and old alike:
V I RT U O S O L I F E
Built in the 1700s as a manor house for
neighboring Argiano Castle, Villa Lorian is
just one of Villas of Distinction's 153 homes
in Tuscany. The property welcomes groups
with swaying cypresses and mature olive
trees, five bedrooms, a pool, and ample
hammock room to savor Tuscany. From
$931 per night (minimum seven-night stay),
including a $100 credit for a personal chef,
chauffeured winetasting, or other service.