Eating Across Italy
Emilia Nardi runs on passion.
She is passionate about wine and winemaking, having in 1985 taken over the family winemaking business, Tenute Silvio Nardi, which produces some of the best examples of the fabled Brunello di Montalcino in eastern Tuscany. She is passionate about food, both as a home cook and as someone on a first-name basis with many chefs in her native Umbria. She is passionate about culture, being a supporter of the Festival delle Nazioni, the annual arts extravaganza in Città di Castello. And she is passionate about showing off Italy to her friends and colleagues, whether it is the small shops of Anghiari or the Vatican in Rome.
When I received an invitation to spend a few days in Italy with Nardi as my host and tour guide, it was an offer I couldn’t imagine refusing.
A car is waiting outside arrivals at Fiumicino airport in Rome, and we embark on the two-hour trip north to Montalcino — first on the autostrada and then on narrow, winding roads across rolling hills. Farmers are plowing vast tracks of land for the next crop of cereal grains, and fields of sunflowers look ready to harvest. Then, as we near the small mountain town, we are greeted by lush vineyards loaded with clusters of Sangiovese grapes that will be hand-picked in a few weeks.
Under the Tuscan Bell Tower
A half-century ago, Montalcino was a town with a past — founded in the 13th Century — but not much of a future. Then in 1967, a small group of winemakers, including Silvio Nardi, founded the Brunello di Montalcino consortium. Today, it’s famous for its hearty, long-lived red wines, and wine pilgrims from around the world come to Montalcino to drink and pay homage.
Welcome to Montalcino
I check into the Albergo di Giglio on a narrow street near the center of the old city. There I am welcomed by owner Mario Machetti and Emilia Nardi. The 12-room inn dates back to the late 1800’s, and an early menu from its restaurant boasts of luce elettrica (electric lights) and acqua potabile (safe drinking water).