Memorial Day Weekend – Wining in Chianti and Dining in Pisa

After a pretty horrible weather day last Saturday (down pouring rain, lightning, etc.), we pushed back our Chianti trip until Memorial Day.  Two weeks ago, we went to an event called “WineTown” here in Florence and tasted several Chianti Classico, Ruffino, and Super Tuscan wines.  From that, we built a list of wines that we’d like to buy, so what better way than to visit the wineries themselves?  We are incredibly lucky to live in Florence, as the drive to the Chianti region is only thirty minutes and the views are stunning on the way.  We visited the Marchesi Antinori’s new cantina, which is an architectural masterpiece, and the Vicchiomaggio castle, both of which create amazing wines.  The day before, on Sunday, we also traveled to Pisa, where we had a wonderful dinner celebrating Eva (Bobby’s sister) and her fiance Geremia’s engagement.  Geremia’s parents live in Pisa and we were treated to a real Tuscan feast.

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Nuts, Crackers, Salami, and Wine

Sugar Plum fairy!

‘Tis the season, right?  Last week, Bobby and I attended “Lo Schiaccianoci” (The Nutcracker), the famous Christmas ballet.  The ballet was performed by The Ballet of Moscow, La Classique at the Teatro Verdi in Florence.

**(For those of you that know the story, you can skip my synopsis and head on to the photos :)!)

Adapted from E.T.A Hoffmann’s “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King,” the ballet first premiered in 1892 in St. Petersburg, Russia.  (I really had no idea it was that old!)  As many of you know, the story centers around a family at Christmastime.  Shortly after putting up the Christmas tree and handing out presents to the children, a local councilman/magician named Herr Drosselmeyer enters the scene.  Drosselmeyer gives the children life-like dolls that dance as well as a wooden nutcracker.  All of the children ignore the nutcracker (I mean, what child would favor a piece of wood over a dancing doll?!) except for Clara.  Clara goes to check on her nutcracker after everyone has gone to sleep and Drosselmeyer is perched on the family clock.  At the stroke of midnight, mice begin to fill the room and the Christmas tree begins to grow in size. The Nutcracker also grows to life-size. A battle between an army of Gingerbread man soldiers and the mice ensues, led by the Mouse King. The mice begin to eat the gingerbread soldiers.  (Yikes!) The Nutcracker is wounded, but Clara comes to the rescue and they are able to defeat the great Mouse King.  Shortly after the defeat, the nutcracker transforms into a handsome prince.  Together, Clara and the Prince travel to the Land of Sweets, which is ruled by the Sugar Plum Fairy.  The Prince recounts how Clara “saved” him from the Mouse King and in honor of the heroine, the fairy throws a large party with chocolate from Spain, coffee from Arabia, tea from China, and candy canes from Russia (all of which dance for the couple).  Clara and the Prince are crowed Queen and King of Sweets.  However, the people of the land of the sweets begin to disappear one by one, until the Nutcracker Prince himself disappears, and Clara is found sleeping in the parlor. The Nutcracker Doll is under the Christmas tree. Clara awakes and finds her crown sitting beside her, but she wonders if it was all a dream. Clara falls back to sleep, believing that if it was indeed simply a dream, she wants to keep dreaming.

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