Pazzi Chianti!

Trip Start Aug 28, 2007
Trip End Dec 16, 2007

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Flag of Italy  ,
Friday, September 14, 2007

After a 45 minute bus ride we arrived in the Florentine Hills, at Castle of Trebbio. The castle was built in 1184 by the Pazzi family on a hill surrounded by olive groves and vineyards. This beautiful place was the spot where we took tours of the cellars and vineyards (even the dungeon! - where they make extra virgin olive oil).
At the beginning of our tour we were told the whole story of the Pazzi family. The Pazzi family were a proud family of Bankers, much like Medici family; however, you never heard about them really because they were second fiddle to the Medicis. Because of this, the Pazzi family decided to come together at a meeting in the castle, in a room called the "Conspiracy Room" which we actually stood in, and plotted the an assassination of the two head Medici family members (Lorenzo and Giovanni). The Medici brothers knew that people were always plotting to take them down so they never stayed together or visited each other, but they didn't know about the Pazzi's plan (now called the "Pazzi Conspiracy"). Apparently the Pazzis found that Lorenzo and Giovanni always met together at the Duomo for church in Florence, so that is when they decided to act on their plot. However, they failed in their plan, they only managed to kill Giovanni (the less powerful of the two brothers), and when Lorenzo found out that it was the Pazzi family who killed his brother there was hell to pay. In a span of two days Lorenzo and his soldiers slaughtered majority of the Pazzi Family (100 people) minus a few who were able to get away, one by the name of Renaldo Pazzi. The day that this occurred was written by an author and was recently released in the States documenting this, it's called "April Blood" (it happened in April 1480 something). These murders preformed by the Medici and their soldiers were especially brutal in revenge. Lorenzo had them slaughter and then hung their bodies outside the window of the Palazzo Vecchio. Another fun fact: did you know that Hannibal was actually filmed in Florence? When Hannibal got out of Silence of the Lambs he escaped to Florence. In the movie there was a detective that was on to him and when the Detective went to strike, Hannibal sliced him open and threw him out the window, in the movie the Detective's name was Renaldo Pazzi (after a survivor of the Medici's slaughter of the Pazzi). In the movie they used the same slaughter technique that the Medici's used (for historical reference). How "pazzi" is that?! "Pazzi" has actually been adopted into Italian language as the word for "crazy" (this was of course because of the plot of the pazzi, and what happened to them - Lorenzo's massacre being "crazy" or "unbelievable").
So anyways, enough about slaughtering! The castle is now owned by a woman who had continued her family tradition of harvesting wine and olive oil. We went down into the cellar where there were HUGE cedar barrels of wine that were aging. Bottles of wine covered with dust were piled up in stacks along walls, in the center of rooms, so much wine! Then we went into the dungeon, where they create extra virgin olive oil. They explained to us that the longer the olives stay on the tree, the more acidic the olive oil will be (which is actually not good for you if you have a lot of it). Some distributors wait longer in the season so the olives grow larger and they can create 4 bottles of oil off of one tree. But at Castle of Trebbio, they actually pick their olives in mid October (where others start in late November), the olives are at .20% acidity (compared to those who wait til November or December that are .60-.80% acidic) but picking so early the olives don't get to grow as big and they can only get one bottle per tree. So they have 10,000 olive trees in their grove, and can only make 10,000 bottles of extra virgin olive oil (which is breaking even for them).

The wine on the other hand, they make a lot of money off of. They have two types of Chianti that they make, mainly because they're on top of a large, large hill so the grapes on each side of the hill get treated differently (one's more in shade - north-eastern sun, and one's more in the sun - south-western sun). We tried a 2006 Chianti, where they said that with a young bottle of wine, you shouldn't "save it" since it's out of the oak & cedar barrels it doesn't age properly and can actually turn into vinegar. We then tried a Chianti Reserve from 2001 that has aged in the barrels for 6 years. After they have aged in the barrels for 6 years it is safe to store them at your home to continue the aging process. I liked the Reserve more than the 2006. Mom and Aunt Deb I have presents for you...I bet you can't guess what it is! Hahaha!

Then we went on a walk through the vineyards and olive groves. I picked a bunch of grapes and ate them on the way up the hill (we were allowed one bunch - so Serana said). Walking through there was so beautiful! I have so many pictures from the vineyard and the castle rose garden. They turned out really well actually!

The family also rents out their farmhouses (they have refurbished them) that are all over the estate. People can take summer and winter vacations there and actually enroll in the following: wine tastings, wine tours, Italian language classes, Italian cooking classes, etc.

I hope you all enjoy my pictures as much as I enjoyed taking them! (I need to upload them soon, sorry!)

Miss you all! Ciao!
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