Over supper B.Spoke Magazine met with Linda and Steve on the balcony of the Four Season Hotel in Geneva
B.Spoke: Tell us about your latest escapades?
Linda: Well most recently we’ve just completed what was an entirely wonderful wine tour of Italy that included a Merlot in Bologna, a Sauvignon Blanc in Emilia-Romagna and an exquisite glass of Champagne in Florence…
Steve: -Yeah well they were probably the highlights, but let’s be honest, there was a whole lot more empty bottles in between!
Linda: Hmm... (cheeky smile) yes that’s true, making sure we were only driving whilst sober wasn’t all that easy. The wines were delicious though and Italy was the perfect backdrop for the occasion. From Milan to Rome, Italy is a veritable treasure trove of culture, art and fine dining, that all greatly added to the experience.
Steve: The drive itself through the Italian country side was remarkable as well. This time we hired a Maserati Quattroporte S and the car drove beautifully over the rolling green hills of Tuscany and Val d’Órcia. The Maserati even got a few raised eyebrows in the cities of Florence and Milan.
Linda: I thought I was the cause of those raised eyebrows! Oh well...
Steve: Ha, well if it helps you any, you’ve always been raising my eyebrows.
B.Spoke: Ok, so how did you start it off?
Steve: Well we arrived early at Milan Malpensa Airport and had the Maserati delivered to us there. The team at BLC are really on the ball by the way. From there we drove to Bologna in the Emilia-Romagna region.
Linda: We drove whilst the sun was still rising and the view over the Italian horizon was just so romantic.
Steve: Yeah it was. Later, we arrived at our hotel, Art Hotel Corona d'Oro, which was super fancy, Linda seemed to really love it. I have to admit, it was nice. It’s a restored 14th century palace, in the heart of Bologna’s old town.
Linda: Oh it was wonderful! I did love it! The furnishings were from a classical period and were extremely luxurious.
Steve: Our location in the old town was great, because we got to explore the area which was really enjoyable. We walked through the Piazza Maggiore and spent some time wandering around the Basilica of San Petronio, which was pretty impressive.
Linda: There are lots of cafes and restaurants in the Piazza, so we had dinner at a lovely restaurant and ordered an egg-pasta tagliatelle with bolognese sauce.
Steve: hmm, yeah I remember that meal, it really hit the spot. Anyways so the next day, we continued traveling through the Emilia Romagna region and stopped off at Parma, at the production plant for the famous Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.
Linda: The cheeses there were delightful! They gave us the opportunity to taste a whole variety. They had camembert and roquefort amongst a whole of others, many at different stages of maturity and all with a glass of Lambrusco wine. Simply Delicious!
Steve: Onward bound, we traveled gradually towards Florence, staying at little B&B’s along the way that were all well located.
Linda: The place we stayed at in Florence, I think was particularly romantic, don’t you think Steve? It was a 13th century fortified palazzo. It had two little terraces that offered very charming views over the whole of Florence, surrounded by luscious fabrics of gold and a celestial blue. It reminded me of that movie, what was it called? With Judi Dench?
Steve: A Room with a View?
Linda: That’s it! Now that I think about it, the name should have come to me straight away.
B.Spoke: Which winery did you enjoy the most?
Linda: There were many lovely wineries and vineyards, but I think our favorite was the Capezzine Estate vineyard. It’s only a very small estate, but its wines have a noble pedigree that is internationally recognized. They produce the famous Vino Nobile di Montepulciano.
Steve: Yeah, you know it has a high pedigree, when a single bottle will set you back a couple hundred pounds. I have to admit though it was interesting to walk through the ancient stone wine cellar that is still being used today.
B.Spoke: What were the highlights?
Steve: The highlight for me was probably driving the Maserati through some of the most beautiful travel routes. It really is an impressively smooth car with great handling. In terms of sights, visiting the Castello Banfi was pretty spectacular. We visited it because it’s a vineyard famous for producing the Brunello di Montalcino, another extremely expensive red wine, but there was more to it than that, which was a very pleasant surprise. The vineyard is situated in a family-owned estate. The location was once a medieval fortress with a surrounding hamlet, and there are still remnants of this time that make the estate very intriguing.
Linda: It was highly remarkable wasn’t it? The fortress surrounds a pink hilltop castle that seems straight out of a fairytale, it even has this elongated tower, where you can just imagine Rapunzel letting down her golden hair!
Steve: They let you wander through the estate as well, which was amazing, we saw a couple of deers standing there at the edge of the woodlands. We also walked through the olive groves, wheat fields and plum orchards, and saw a wild boar family and pheasants. The whole experience really transports you, you know what I mean?
B.Spoke: Any tips?
Steve: This region really is about the wine, so you have to decide who’s prepared to hold back and be the designated driver. I think it’s probably obvious by now I was happy to do a lot of the driving. Linda didn’t argue about that too much.
Linda: Hiccup, nope. I did a couple of driving stints, but to be honest, I think for the large part of the vacation I wasn’t completely sober. Oh the memories!