We found an agriturismo, a working farm coupled with a bed and breakfast, in the heart of Mugello, land of the Medici family, who invested heavily in the region during the middle ages to consolidate their power in nearby (thirty kilometers north) Florence. Poggio di Sotto is run by Gianluca and Nathalie, and with private parking, a garden, nine rooms with private bath, television and telephone, it is truly a jewel. Nathalie’s mother-in-law, Mirella, owns the restaurant on the premises, La Casa di Caccia, famous for local Tuscan cuisine such as farinata (polenta with kale and beans), tagliatelle sui funghi, sul cinghiale, sulla lepre (thick string pasta with mushroom, wild boar or hare meat sauce), and pan di ramerino (sweet buns with rosemary and raisins).
Everything we’d heard about the light in Tuscany and the ambience is true. Beautiful, bucolic, bordering on the magical, we discovered a way to set up an office in our room in such a way as to both work and enjoy the sights and sounds outdoors. At dinner we asked Mirella if we could stay a second night. We’d have to wait until she checked with Nathalie … but the good news arrived before dessert.
The following day we explored the nearby medieval village of Scarperia. Many shops were closed for several hours midday for lunch, but we saw the church, the tower, and met (as usual) more dog lovers. Finally we found an open restaurant that permitted Carson to sit close to us, and reveled in huge platters of Frittura Pesce Mista and Spaghetti Bolognese. (I bet you can figure out who had fish and who had pasta.)
Afterward the stores began to open and we scored a hit with L’Artigiano Scarperia, a shop where Allessandro and Fabio (not that one, but soap opera handsome nonetheless) craft and sell knives of superb quality, some even for the famous L’Aiguille company. We selected two for gifts, and Fabio expertly engraved them for their new owners. Driving back to Poggio we noted some the elements of the varied Mugello countryside, including thick woodland, groves of olive and chestnut trees, and fields of wheat and sunflowers. It was early evening, time to attempt to capture the soft hazy pastels created by the twilight sun, and enjoy a taste of local pecorino cheese with a glass of rich Brunello di Montalcino. Bellisima!
(Poggio di Sotto, Via di Galliano, 17/19 50031 Galliano-Barberino di M.llo; Tel: +39 055 8428447, www.agriturismopoggiodisotto.com, firstname.lastname@example.org. Ristorante: 055 8428223; Ristorante Pizzeria Il Rustico di Lomonaco, Piazza Garibaldi 2 Scarperia. L’Artigiano Scarperia: Viale Giacomo Matteotti, 84 – 50038 – Scarperia, Tel: 055 8468268 (factory); Via Roma, 77 – 50038, Tel: 055 8430519 (Sales). www.coltellidellartigiano.it)