Montelcino Antonio
First Day in France
Moving South
Vienne and Vinsorbes
Dutch Campground
First Days in Italy
Montelcino Antonio
First Days-South Italy
First Days-Giovinazzo
Living in Giovinazzo
Picking Olives
Outings and School
Rosa's show
Hols & New Yr
Back to School
Croatia-Plitvika, Krk, Cres
St. Pierre
Camping on the Med
Eli's Diary
Rosa's Diary


13 November 2004: Montelcino, our first WWOOF hosts


On the way to our first WWOOFer host

Crashed out!

Breakfast with Gionvi, Ilaria and Antonio


Their house

Shooting arrows to defend Montelcino (2.5 meg movie)




Once again we had a slow morning and laughed at ourselves for being ready to set off at noon again. We were heading into Tuscany proper by-passing Sienna. I had chosen the WOOFer farm because of its proximity to Montelcino, a medieval walled town, which I had been reading about since before we left Ireland, in a wonderful book given to me for our trip by my LaLeche friends. (Vanilla Beans and Brodo by Isabel Dusi). We got to Montelcino about 3 with all the shops and restaurants shut, but we weren't too starving and had a wonderful walk exploring this spectacular place. It was really great to have so much background on it from the book, but also the location is almost beyond description, as the height affords views from the medieval walls in every direction over what seems the whole of the Tuscan valley. The little streets had even littler lanes which my book told me to go down in order to discover gardens behind each terrace. There we could see a peculiar yellow orange fruit ripening on huge trees, as well as vegetables and olives. There were old ladies both in the alleyways chatting and up ladders picking olives. We walked back to the piazza Garibaldi where we parked our car, and found a little bar open, selling pizza slices.

WWOOF host

Sated, we phoned our WWOOFer host and headed, not knowing quite what to expect, as we were not offering any help, just looking for a place to stop over. The drive there, down through the valley, was equally amazing , as was the sunset over the Tuscan hills, but we had pushed the kids with the driving to get there, and they were very ready for a stop.

We had a bit of difficulty finding the farm but the host Gianvi Baptiste drove out to find us. His wife Ilaria was waiting with their little nearly 1 year old Antonio. Gianvi immediately insisted we come inside and that we would sleep and eat with them in their house. We couldn't believe our luck in finding this generous warm couple, who by the way, both spoke English. Guianvi extremely well, but we discovered Ilaria also did well when Gianvi popped out for an hour before dinner. Antonio was also a gorgeous baby, who took us all in with great big eyes and serious expression, which little by little melted into little grins and great giggles, at the children. During the evening we learned how they had escaped from Naples first Gionvi, to work for his sister in agritourism, and later when he found he wanted to stay and had met Ilaria, they bought a former industrial zoned area that had been designated for development as a town dump. The locals had protested and stopped the dump, but when Gionvi bought it, it had already been dug up into many holes.  They took this mess, leveled it, built a most amazing house and planted vineyards that are organic and are in their first year of production towards certified organic wine. We were able to sample both a first year's wine and the first press of this year's olive oil. Both were incredibly delicious.

In the morning we could see more Tuscan views, but the weather had changed. A wind had followed us and there was even a hint of rain. Looking outside we saw another part of this farm's story; 4 ancient olive trees stand on the four corners of their garden. Gianvi told us that he had hoped to transport some fairly big olive trees from their grove a few miles away, but a digger operator said he had even bigger ones that he had permission to remove from his land and all he wanted was payment for transport. So these massive trees were able to move. They are roughly 120 years old and really add to the character Gianvi and Ilaria are creating. It's hard to believe just how much work they have achieved from what they tell us was there before.

Having gained advice about our route to Bari, we decided to set off for one more long run. With many many grazies to them for sharing their home with us. The children too were very grateful and had really enjoyed Antonio's company, home, and toys. Sammy kept talking about his first Italian friend.  We headed off again, this time making for Rome, Naples and then across country towards Bari. We barely stopped, just for toilet breaks, feeding everybody on the way. The wind seems out to get us on these highways, but at least being Sunday, the traffic was lighter and there were no trucks.

Long drive up with low petrol to try and find WWOOF family Suzie had rung earlier. Had to ask them to come out and meet us as we couldn't find the place. It was down a long windy road but still on a hilltop. They were lovely and very welcoming, insisting we stay in the house and share dinner with them. I talked to Gianvi a bit about the Olive business - the best organic oil sells for 24 euro for 3/4 litre! We also sampled his own wine and an after dinner "digestive" alcoholic drink.

The in the morning I was stunned to see that despite coming down a long hill to his house we were still looking down over a valley through large windows. I wanted to help with something and tried to fix Gianvi's Internet connection but in the end my conclusion was that the distance from his house to the local switching station was just too far to get a decent reliable connection (this is what the phone company had also told him. Just before we left they asked us if we wanted to try olive oil and salt on bread. I had been a bit dubious of this, but the earthy aroma and taste of olives on fresh crusty bread was delicious. Doing the same with the clear purified olive oil at home would have been awful but this was a real surprise.

We left to lots of grazie's and ciao's, leaving our contact details in their guestbook and promising to get in touch once we had internet connection.

Long drive down then across country towards Bari.

Very sleepy, so got off highway to tiny village. Suz asked some musicians coming out of the back of a building if we could stay, they said no, ask at restaurant (around front) but shook our hands and said welcome to southern Italy. The man in the restaurant said "no problem" so we parked up.


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This site was last updated 03/26/05