God sometimes gives us unexpected gifts. Our gift has been a grandson who enlivens our lives and makes retirement very different than the one we anticipated. He is a special joy. And that's "Casey." In 2006 we fulfilled our dream of living in Italy for a year. It was every bit as wonderful as anticipated. This blog begins in 2005 as we prepared for that experience. Since then we have explored many places together. That's the "Travel." And finally, I am a person of opinions--spiritually, politically, on just about anything and that's the "Other Stuff." Welcome to my blog.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

White Roads of Chianti

Often I speak of pleasures in traveling white roads and then someone will ask “what is a white road?” I forget that for me the concept was unknown until spending time here a few years back. Since then, my life and love for Tuscany and Umbria have been enriched by following them.

Look at your map. You see highways, autostradas, roads, smaller roads, very skinny roads and then, focusing harder, you will find white lines. These lines seem to meander, flowing between places like river bottoms. Usually you do not see destinations marked along their ways.

Travelers often ignore these lines and that is their mistake; for, it is as you bump and turn along these dirt, gravel, ravined rutted roads that discoveries are made. It is in these explorations that you will find future memories more evocative than the storied places you have been to—the “must sees,” as they are called.

A mystery of these roads and something to keep in your mind as you decide to take the step and follow one is that they always lead some place—well, almost always anyway. Eventually you will bump your way back onto a paved road with directional signs to somewhere.

Along the way you will find even smaller paths to turn into where at the end will be an ancient farmhouse now restored, lived in and with a sign for olive oil and wine. You wonder what happens to these people in winter; surely cars can’t make it “there and back” in snow and rain. And then the bigger question: Who finds this place to taste and buy the oils and wines?...People who follow white lines, of course.

We spent a year exploring these roads that beckon and yet there must be hundreds more to find. Today was a new one with a delightful reward along the way. After passing by a lovely but mournful wooden cross bedecked with flowers, held up by rough stones at the base—a memorial to some tragic accident, peering into woods where the wild boar roams, hearing the strange calls of unknown birds somewhere in the tree tops and glimpsing small hilltop villages in the distance,

we eventually found ourselves in San Giusto in Salcio--a very small old grouping of stone houses, a church and a towering tower with bells announcing the hour--a borgo of the past but lived in again now.

The parish church was built in the 1200's, restored over the years, fell into disrepair and last renovated in 1926. It is small but clearly in use--not decommissioned as so many of the old chapels here have been. And, in it was this quite lovely treasure that gleamed within the rough hewn walls and scarred pews of the building--a not unusual find when traveling white roads.

Wending along further was one of those even smaller "roadpaths" with a sign indicating a reward of a winery if we followed it. So, we did and stumbled upon another special place---Poggio Antinora. Here one can sample their wines but even better is the exhibition of wonderful fotographia from the early 1900's. Taken with an old box camera by the parish priest are the faces of rich and poor, vineyard workers and children. It is a rich and provocative glimpse into the history of yesteryear.

Alongside these rooms is a small museum of vineyard/winery implements and equipment from days long past.

A Look At Poggio Antinora
Retreating back along the rocky roads, we eventually found our way to the paved 214A which led us back through Radda and to Lucrelli and the Osteria di Panzanella--our lunch destination.

A Delicious Goat Cheese Salad with Lots of Other Good Stuff
Our day ended by traveling our most favorite white road of them all--one that we return to again and again because of the treasure found at its end--La Cantinetta di Rignana. To find out more about Casey's most favorite restaurant in all the world, just do a search on this blog or on KZ in Toscana.

In this picture, they are holding the San Diego Pot Holders he brought them per la cucina.

Tomorrow we go to Castello Meleto where there will be a medieval festival. Each day offers its own pleasures to enjoy and the treasure hunt is fun!


janie said...

Thanks so much for sharing-I almost feel like I'm there.

Sandrac said...

Great photos, Jane -- I can't wait to drive a few white roads myself!

Pokey jo said...

Beautifully written and a great escape for my mind as I drive myself along a white road. Although I don't always comment, I love reading your blog and I'm thrilled beyond words that you guys are having such a warm and delicious time "home" in Italy!!

continued safe travels,

Anonymous said...

Hi Jane,

I am SO enjoying the word pictures you share as well as your actual photos. We love back roads, too!

I eagerly check daily to see if you have added another blog entry and look forward to hearing about your interesting escapades.

Thank you for letting us all tag along with you!

Safe travels,

Jane said...

It's a lot of fun bringing all of you along with us on our treasure hunt! Thanks for coming and thanks for saying such nice things.

Jerry said...

Jane - your post is a great reminder for those folks who just want to rush from one 'destination' to another in the quickest way possible . . . if you slow down and take a meandering route you will likely 'discover' some wonderful things!

Jane said...

Jerry, you are so right except I would change "probably" to "will." It is almost a certainty.

Anonymous said...

I love that second photo and I must remember to travel more white roads :)

Jane said...

Maryann, I like that one, too.

Anonymous said...

Jane you write the most beautiful descriptive words. You take us all with you as you travel. I'm just so happy for the three of you...home at long last! Have fun.
Barb Cabot

karenb1 said...

I can not tell you how much I have enjoyed reading your blog. You have an amazing life and your blog is captivating!!

You certainly have a way with a pen... as I read your blog I feel as if I am with you ... what a gift you have in recording your travels ... and what a gift you are giving Casey with your written records.

I am not a frequent poster on Slow Travel ... but am a very frequent reader of posts and blogs ...

Thank you for a glimpse into your fascinating life ... I will continue to follow your travels.


Terry (teaberry) said...

Jane, thanks for taking me along the white road with you. What a great trip.

Jane said...

Karen and Terry, thanks for making my day! Nice words are always so uplifting!