I feel we arrived at the peak of spring with wildflowers growing everywhere, the fields lush and green, the sun shining but with enough morning fog and coolness to remind us that it was still May.
We arrived a couple of days early so we could do some sightseeing and get ready for our students. I have to admit the nine hour time difference between Seattle and Europe left me in a fog for the first few days.
We visited the local markets to procure all of our ingredients and drove all around the countryside admiring the poppies.
When our students arrived on Sunday we greeted them with an array of small plates that Emanuela’s mom and the next door neighbor had prepared with zucchini frittata, focaccia, prosciutto and cheeses, pappa al pomodoro… and of course gelato with the typical Tuscan cantuccini for dessert. Some even went all out for the vinosanto. We mingled and got to know each other a bit more before the workshop began.
The first day was all about learning camera basics, manipulating light and getting comfortable with styling. But it all got cut short by thunder and lightning that hovered over the sky by mid afternoon. I was impressed by how students kept working even through the darkness. That evening we walked the trailers next to Leonardo da Vinci’s childhood home where we found wild poppies covered in large drops of rain.
Saturated with color.
And we ended the day with dinner at agriturismo Il Vincio. I cannot even remember how many courses were served. Insanity.
The following day we visited two amazing places that I will have to tell you extensively about on another time. There was definitely material for 3 different sessions there.
We watched Francesco Bagnoli make primo sale cheese right in front of our eyes from the milk that his twelve cows provide. He blew me away with all his technical knowledge. Someone who didn’t set out to be a farmer or cheesemaker, but his love for food brought him there after university. He spoke about temperatures, enzymes, whey, casein, aging… all things that get me excited. We took so many photos there and will share more soon.
In the afternoon, we headed to Paolo Parisi’s home where we were greeted by an outdoor lunch of frittatas with his world-famous eggs, homemade salumi and a simple dish of pasta cooked risotto-style. Again, I will have to save those photos for another post.
My brain was about to explode with ideas that day.
We visited the Wednesday market at Pistoia with the students who walked around capturing the produce, environment and people.
Artichokes, peas, favas, wild strawberries, apricots, nespole, asparagus, zucchini blossoms, cherries… Spring bursting everywhere. We walked around with bags and bags of produce that we brought back to Vinci to style and photograph. And that afternoon Nadia created a beautiful picnic for us to shoot and enjoy. So beautiful.
We always reserve the last day for sightseeing and relaxing and this time was no different. A warm spring day, we drove to Capezzana for a tour of one of the oldest wineries and olive presses in Tuscany. The cellar walls were covered with the most impressive mold I have ever seen. The Countess still resides in one of the homes on the estate and I can see why no one would ever want to leave this place with so much history, the views and the impressive gardens.
We saw ancient bottles of wine.
There was also a wine and olive oil tasting followed by lunch in town. It was the perfect ending to our time together, which some even topped it with several scoops of gelato.
Ah the windy roads of Tuscany…
I have to thank Emanuela, Francesco and the entire Roncari family for their generosity and hospitality. I think I can speak for everyone when I say they welcomed us as part of their own. And of course Nadia for the her beautiful styling and eye.
Thank you to some artists and makers who donated items for our gift baskets. Suite One Studio, Theo, Ice Milk Aprons, La Cucina Italiana, and Nadia’s beautiful plates and napkins. Everyone loved the goodie bags!