P.S – walk the Green or Blue Mountain Trail this Spring. We are back on track after a short winter break. Enquire here

Good Morning

Azienda Agricola Caparsa is a farm below the walls of Radda in Chianti, owned and farmed by the Cianferoni family. Together with our children, we have learnt almost all that we know about the sweet life of Italy, when staying here on and off, over the last twenty two years. Paolo and Gianna Cianferoni and their five children have extended enormous love and friendship to us.

On Saturday morning I visited Caparsa on the way back from a failed artist studio visit in the village of Panzano. All was not lost as while waiting for said artist, sitting on a bench on Piazza Gastone Bucciarelli, none other than the famous Butcher of Panzano, Dario Cecchini, strolled down to have his characterful moustache trimmed at the barber right before my shaded bench. Ironically, Dario was studying to be a vet when his father died. He was forced to switch to being a butcher to run the family business.

Back to Caparsa, where Paolo Cianferoni chatted about the overwhelming challenges when farming in this now extreme climate change. The atypical June/July heat wave being a case in point. Furthermore, Paolo said that with the current state of the world, glass bottles and corks have become scarce, only available at wildly inflated prices. He introduced me to their Anfora di Caparsa, a wine carrying a portrait of his mother. The white wine is fermented in an earthenware urn (anfora) giving it an earthy taste.

The Cianferoni family have enabled our family to live out our dream of tending to a small corner of this neighbourhood. In turn, we have now begun to share what we have learnt and love at Casa di Simonetta. This European summer of 2022 has seen a string of South Africans renting our apartments. The bits they have loved can be found in some of their writings here.

Adie Feldner-Busztin (Johannesburg) says “We booked for 7 days and stayed for 10, and had the most extraordinary time exploring Chianti: it’s villages and towns, vineyards and restaurants. Returning to the calm and beauty of Casa di Simonetta each evening was a treat, as was the warmth and hospitality of the lovely residents of Adine.”

Diane McCarthy (Johannesburg) writes: “Chianti in early June. Cool early mornings; setting off at first light to the crossroads. Listen for the snuffling of the boars. Cool green air.

Afternoon snoozes in heavily shuttered rooms. Waking to the shifting light bleeding from the window edges and knowing it’s time for the next part of the long lazy day- wine on the terrace with a view. Limbs on show, glass on stone, olives in terracotta, cypresses on distant hillsides. The promise of ripe tomatoes and grassy olive oil; simple flavours on wooden platters.

Night walking under a big Moon.”

The Wood family of five (Tzaneen), still here, say “A magical space to escape and live the Tuscany dream, scattered with olive trees and hidden in between the Chianti forest and vineyards. Casa di Simonetta is authentically beautiful. Alison has not only provided us with a wonderful home but accommodated and welcomed our family with a warm and gentle embrace. A charming atmosphere lingers here at Casa Di Simonetta.

We have devoured olives, sipped on delicious wine and enjoyed local cuts of meat and incredible cheeses which we got from the charming grocery store just 3km away.

There is much to do and explore.”

Sue van der Merwe (Cape Town) “could not believe we saw wild boar in the olive orchard almost every evening… with five little piglets in tow. I’m sure the farmers were not as excited as I was to see them!”

With the long daylight hours, one has little time to sleep and even less time to read. Finuala Dowling’s The Man who loved Crocodile Tamers, was my first holiday read. It is a search for the redemption of the author’s father who had embarrassed the family and died a shameful death, being buried in an unmarked grave. While at times amusing, I found it very sad. Finuala’s father loved Jacques Brel and played his vinyl over and over again in his last years. In the 1970’s my mother took me to see the South African production of Alive and Well and Living in Paris, at the President Hotel in Sea Point. She too loved the music and we bought the album after the show. When recounting this with my four sisters this week, they each admitted to remembering the lyrics  of this music that my mother too, had played over and over again.

Finuala Dowling’s father’s favourite song was IF WE ONLY HAVE LOVE

‘If we only have love
We can melt all the guns
And then give the new world
To our daughters and sons’

With love,

P.P.S – to stay at Casa di Simonetta for a week or more,  e-mail us here.

P.P.P.S – to join artist and teacher Jill Trappler’s INTERIORS workshop at Wildekrans Country House on the weekend of 14 October 2022, enquire here.

P.P.P.P.S – please diarise to visit Wildekrans Country House on the weekends of 28 October and 4 November. We will be celebrating Elgin Open Gardens 2022 and featuring artist Sera Holland’s ceramics and oils. Sera most recently collaborated with POETRY and this ceramic series can be found at all Poetry stores.