This was our day to visit Tenuta Di Arceno vineyard; www.tenutadiarceno.com, owned by Jess Jackson, the gazillionaire former owner of Kendall-Jackson, and now owner of two dozen top vineyards worldwide, including Cardinale in California (each bottle costs about the same as our monthly electric bill). The Helvetia arranged an English-speaking driver to bring us out to the Tuscan vineyard, about 1-1/2 hours away from Firenze.
Our driver, Franco, thought he was the second-coming of Mario Andretti. Once Franco hit the AutoStrada, he put the pedal to the metal until we hit Warp Three. I buried my head in the newspaper pretending to read, fearing if I spoke one word to Franco he would turn around and take both hands off the wheel. David was sitting behind Franco, praying, and couldn’t see the speedometer; but during our 45 minutes on the AutoStrada I could see he was hitting between 180 to 200 kilometers-per-hour, which translates to 110 to 120 miles-per-hour. Every once in a while we would look at each other with the same terrified, glazed expression that people exchange in a dentist’s waiting room, then I would go back to reading the Sudoku again, and David would pretend he was taking in the countryside. Needless to say, we were terrorized by the time we arrived at Tenuta.
We met with Tenuta’s Winemaker, Lawrence Cronin, a native of Staten Island; whose grandmother lives in Sicily. Lawrence gave us the grand tour of the 2,500 acre property, and then we did some wine tasting, and headed out for lunch in San Gusmé, population 100. We dined at La Porta del Chianti Ristorante and had a lovely lunch. Their web site is www.laportadelchianti.com
Then back into the van. Franco wanted to show us the city of Siena. It’s hard to see at Warp Two, so he dropped us off for a quick look see while he got new dilithium crystals for the anti-matter drive in the van. Unfortunately, we didn’t have enough time to fully sightsee but have marked it down for the next time we are in Italy. Now was time for us to return to Firenze. Fortunately, traffic was heavy, so driving back to Florence was a breeze, with speeds only around 70 mph. Franco was on the phone the whole time, driving with one hand, which occasionally would leave the wheel and flail around, causing the van to lurch from lane to lane. To reassure us, Franco would turn around and look at us, smile, and ask “everybody OK?” as he closed on the car in front of us at super speed. We think that NASCAR sends rookie drivers to Italy to learn “drafting” and fear.
That evening we ate at probably the best fish restaurant in Italy, Fuor d’acqua. We think the photos speak for themselves. Six courses, all fish, all wonderful.
Back to the hotel to pack and a 4:30 a.m. wake-up call.