After a short market visit in the morning, we boarded the bus for our trip today to a winery that is also an agritourismo. But Chef is always full of surprises as we realized when the bus stopped at Paola Bar-Pasticceria-Gelateria for a mid morning aperitivo. Traditionally, the aperitivo is before dinner between 6 and 7 pm and includes a pre-dinner drink, salty snacks and other meats, cheeses and savory snacks. For our mid morning aperitivo, we were served Prosecco and dishes of savory pastries. All very delicious.
With a nice little Prosecco buzz and enough snacks in our bellies to tide us over until our late lunch, we began the last part of our day’s journey. The winery is a bit off the beaten path. A few turn arounds (not that easy for a large bus) later our driver found the road leading to the winery. Much like the hotel where our school is located, the winery sat on top of the hill. Thank goodness our bus driver is very skilled – up and up we went on a narrow dirt road only to encounter a dump truck trying to come down the hill. Some gasping and OMGs ensued, but the dump truck driver backed his way to a clearing farther up the hill so we could pass.
We stepped off the bus to a spectacular view of the vineyard, an old monastery in ruins, and the blue sea beyond. Scents of almond flowers and simmering bolita wafted through the air. And what better greeting than by two happy bouncy puppies? I say puppies because they were just so adorable and wanted to play and frolic. This guy kept hanging out under the table hoping for things to drop.
Anthony the proprietor greeted all of us as old friends. Naturally effusive and gregarious, Anthony was an engaging and entertaining host. His property includes the vineyard, winery, and a small bed and breakfast. When we arrived, he had been simmering a pig (bolito) all morning in a huge vat and his staff were making sausages. A long table was set on the terrace with breathtaking views of the vineyard and the sea beyond. A feast of freshly baked bread, house made cheese, lemon infused olive oil, sausages and pitchers of their signature red wine straight out of the tap awaited us.
We ate and drank and enjoyed fun conversations learning about Anthony and the transformation of the property from nothing to the wonderfully serene mountaintop retreat that it has become. Anthony’s goal is to produce award winning noble wines and he is well on his way. From the succulent food, the robust and velvety wine, the sheep grazing on the hillside, the fragrant flowering almond tree, the warming hearth fire in the restaurant kitchen, the rooftop terrace with the breathtaking views, to the Italian opera serenading us – the experience was a delight to all the senses. Anthony told us one his greatest pleasures is to enjoy his morning coffee out on the terrace in the quiet stillness of the morning. And in that gorgeous setting, I could see myself doing the same.
Maybe it was the free flowing wine. Or the Italian opera, or the magnificent views, or the warm and embracing personality of our host. Whatever it was, many of us felt strong emotions to the beauty of the place stir within us. It was difficult to say goodbye to our new friend and get back on the bus. Most definitely a place I would like to visit again.