A press tour touching on two of Tuscany's most beautiful cities, Florence and Sienais as good as it could have been organised for me Maddalena Mazzeschiwho deals with wine communication and has been following wonderful companies for many years. So I thought I would make it coincide with my 36th birthday and my eighth month of marriageanniversaries that both fell on the8 May 2021. The first stop was at the Artimino Estate, in the Tuscan village of the same name located near Carmignano, a town famous in the wine world for the appellation of the same name and especially for the Barco Reale di Carmignano DOCG. I had already written a couple of months ago the article Carmignano DOC: why doesn't anyone talk about it? really won over by the wines of Artimino, but I did not expect to experience a wine experience so special! 😍🍷

We left early in the morning on Friday 7 May because we were too keen to go out together. Heck, the romance between my husband and I started just before the pandemic and we practically lived at home all the time between closings! We still have a lot of things to do together! After a brief stop in Bologna to say hello to a friend and to pick up the little gift for our eighth month of marriage and for Mother's Day (I'll show you in the third instalment of this press tour) and eating a delicious mortadella in the car, we left for Scandicci. It's crazy that Bologna-Florence is always such a frenzy! Anyway, we left the car in the car park of Villa Costanza in Scandicci and we got into the car with Maddalena, who drove us to Artimino, a hamlet in the village of Carmignano.

estate of artimino barco reale di carmignano

First we checked in and received the key to room 23 of the hotel's restored Medici paggeria, a real gem! This 17th century building has been enhanced with great care, from the terracotta floors to the pietra serena details, from the wooden beams to the stylish furnishings. A delightful detail? Each room is designed with a colour palette that reflects a wine from the estate.

artimino villa medicea

The Medici paggeria that houses the hotel consists of 37 rooms and overlooks the beautiful Villa La Ferdinanda, UNESCO heritage sitewhich I had already told you about in this article. Passing through a splendid garden that smells of the countryside, we reached the villa for a guided tour that began in the cellars. Here is also housed a copy of the first DOC ante litterem signed by Cosimo III and in which Carmignano also appears. The estate has been owned by the Olmo family since the 1980s, when the famous cyclist of the past Giuseppe Olmo bought it as a retreat and meeting place for his large family.

estate of artimino barco reale di carmignano

We 'wandered' between Etruscan tunnels, a large tasting room and small 'surprise' rooms, such as a small family vinegar cellar and an old archive, both housed in small rooms adjacent to the main room.

estate of artimino barco reale di carmignano

The old archive in particular I found really suggestive. It would be very nice to make a big operation of cataloguing the documents present... because I am convinced that other suggestive anecdotes about this splendid estate could emerge!

estate of artimino barco reale di carmignano

I photographed this document because I can't help but be amazed by the handwriting, a real calligraphy! I was reminded of my grandfather who, despite an elementary education, had such beautiful handwriting and did not make a single mistake. From him and my father I learnt to write with great order and discipline and I really cherish that. I admit that I look with horror at messy notebooks, full of smudges, ears and erasures... in my opinion anyone who cannot keep a notebook or a book carefully does not deserve to be educated because this should really be the ABCs.

estate of artimino barco reale di carmignano

In these old wine cellars I found a perfect ambience for aperitifs at receptions, very atmospheric indeed. With the premise that for me it is a pity to separate the operational part from the experience part because in some way you cut off an important slice of the public (the real wine enthusiasts), it is still a pleasure to visit them.

estate of artimino barco reale di carmignano

One of the most interesting environments I have seen is the cookingwhich is as big as my entire ground floor of my house... or perhaps as big as my entire house directly. A gigantic rotisserie on pulleys developed from Leonardo da Vinci's drawing dominates. I am a connoisseur of art history and Leonardo da Vinci in particular, so I thought I would do my thesis on Leonardo enogastronomo. We are used to thinking of Leonardo as a great genius and mysterious artist, forgetting that he was also a restaurateur in the company of his franterno friend Sandro Botticelli and a talented winemaker. Not only that: so many of his inventions - originally interpreted as war machines - were actually dedicated to the kitchen, including a curious corkscrew for left-handed people, the dishwasher, the food mincer...

artimino villa la ferdinanda girarrosto leonardo da vinci

On the upper floors we found rooms of various sizes, particularly interesting is the small chapel frescoed by Domenico Cresti - known as the Passignano - e Bernardino Poccettiexcellent Florentine painter of frescoes.

estate of artimino barco reale di carmignano

There are actually many frescoes to be admired in the various halls, currently bare and waiting to be furnished to host luxurious events of various sizes. I see them as particularly suitable for splendid corporate conventions or not-too-intimate weddings.

estate of artimino barco reale di carmignano

In the succession of salons are frescoes in the lunettes depicting former battle scenes - now lost - and the splendid Medici villas. The most outstanding point from an artistic point of view was the cloakroom, because it once contained Titian's portrait of Pietro Aretinonow on display at the Palatine Gallery of Palazzo Pitti in Florence and The Bacchus of Caravaggionow on display at the Uffizi in Florence.

estate of artimino barco reale di carmignano

The original furnishings have been lost, but the few furnishings on the Piano Nobile are still very tastefully done. I really like the corner with the baby grand piano, the bench with the Medici coat of arms and the portrait of the duke. Although of lesser artistic merit, I greatly appreciated the spaces on the top floor that are now mostly used as offices. Besides enjoying a wonderful panorama, they present a very intimate and pleasant atmosphere. A perfect setting to organise an intimate wedding or the famous 'dinner with the parents' the night before 😍

estate of artimino barco reale di carmignano

Even if it is the back of the villa, this one over the village of Artimino for me remains the most beautiful view ever! In this shot I am in front of the gate of the secondary entrance under a portico frescoed with light scenes. Indeed, we must not forget that this villa was a hunting lodge, a place of taste and pleasure.

estate of artimino barco reale di carmignano

After a quick stop in the room, we headed to my favourite area of the Artimino Estate: the Biagio Pignatta Restaurant. Sir Biagio Pignatta was the butler of Duke Ferdinando I de' Medici and was honoured with a restaurant that alone is worth the trip to Carmignano... I assure you! The ambience is delightful and tastefully furnished, the tables well spaced and the atmosphere wonderful. The waiters are elegant, polite and professional: a pleasure for the eyes and to enjoy a dinner above all expectations.

artimino wines restaurant biagio pignatta

We started with two platters of really good cold meats and cheeses... there is also a legendary blue cheese that I didn't manage to taste as I am slow to eat, write and take photos... and at the table there were some good forks at least as good as me! 😄 The white wine I must say is one of the jewels of Artimino. In general I find that Lately, Tuscany has been producing some of the most interesting white winesi. My theory on the matter is that Tuscany, a well-known land of excellent reds, can afford to do as it pleases with whites, and the result is wines that are not at all standardised in their organoleptic characteristics and have great personality.

estate of artimino barco reale di carmignano

In particular, Artumes is made from Trebbiano Toscano, Chardonnay, Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc grapes in % such that it is truly balanced. The trebbiano gives the wine great acidity and a certain verticality, softened by the chardonnay that infuses it with fatness and sweeter aromas. The riesling gives it citrusy and mineral notes, the sauvignon blanc a distinctive but delicate perfume due to a rather derisory quantity in the blend. Truly a fine bottle capable of pleasing a variety of palates. We paired it with meatballs with spicy sauce and mustard sauce, very good.

estate of artimino barco reale di carmignano

This is the best first course I have eaten in 36 years. Something nothing short of divine. Cappelletti stuffed with Prato mortadella (which is already more aromatic and tasty than Bologna mortadella) on a taleggio cheese fondue and very generous grating of truffle that really does taste of truffle. A crazy balance of flavours and taste. They were an off-menu item... make sure you call them first and ask if they make them for you because they are too good!

The perfect pairing here would have been with Vin Ruspo, - Barco Reale di Carmignano DOC Rosato - Artimino's rosé wine... but I admit that this is the only wine that didn't excite me on the estate and so I opted for another pairing that turned out to be very successful. Ser Biagio is the Barco Reale di Carmignano DOC Rosso, which I had already tasted (and enjoyed) in 2019 at home with my dear Valentina's lasagne. Ser Biagio is a red wine made from Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot grapes that only makes steel. Fine and delicate aromas, mineral and overall soft palate, medium structure... but above all exceptional drinkability.

estate of artimino barco reale di carmignano

Ah, the melarancio duck! My absolute favourite second course... which I dare say as good as mine, nobody makes it (here my family recipe for duck à l'orange) - although this came very close and the accompanying vegetables were divine! Although many think it is French, this dish is really Florentine and arrived in France thanks to my beloved Catherine de' Medici, Queen Consort of France. I love this wanting to propose traditional Medici dishes in this temple of Medici culture! 😍

I paired it with extraordinary success with one of the wines I liked best from the winery, the Chianti di Montalbano DOCG. A Chianti as you would expect a Chianti... can I call it that?

estate of artimino barco reale di carmignano

Occhio di Pernice Vin Santo di Carmignano DOC and cantucci... the perfect finale to a wonderful dinner. Tuscan vin santo for me is a monument and as such should be treated with great respect. In its Occhio di Pernice version, mainly red grapes are used, in particular the 50% is Sangiovese. I really liked this version from Artimino because it is 'easy' to appreciate, on its own or paired with dry sweets, with or without dried fruit or chocolate. It has a brilliant amber colour, consistent. The nose is a riot of dried fruit, caramelised figs, apricot jam, acacia honey and also has a balsamic note of mountain pine. In the mouth it is well-balanced, consistent, with a savoury streak that softens a never cloying and enjoyable sweetness.

estate of artimino barco reale di carmignano

After dinner we returned almost immediately to the Medici paggeria also because my husband Francesco was literally knocked out! I took the opportunity to study Food and Wine Law in the bath. By the way, congratulations on the shower set: rich, quality products and an irresistible ginger scent. Now that I had opened it, I put the body cream in my bag and still use it as a very pleasant hand cream!

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Here is the Biagio Pignatta in breakfast version! The tables are set as simply as I expect to start the day.

estate of artimino barco reale di carmignano

Buffet served full of delicious sweets: I really enjoyed the doughnuts and doughnuts filled with good custard. The little brioches were also delicious!

estate of artimino barco reale di carmignano

There are very comfortable benches in the restaurant that I really love... and so does Paco! After a nice lemon tea, we set off for Bolgheri! I'd say that our 8 May couldn't have started better!

biagio pignatta artimino

I sincerely hope that I have intrigued you and that you will sooner or later make a relaxing weekend in Artimino: you can complete your wine experience with lots of activities. For me, the Tuscan countryside is good wine, good food, fascinating views and lots of relaxation.

Next stop on the trip is Bolgheri, but I won't anticipate anything.

Thank you for the exquisite hospitality and to Magdalena for organising and running it,

cheers ❤️🍷

Chiara

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