A wedding in Chianti!
The event had arrived. The (main) reason we had decided to travel to just Italy on this trip to Europe – the wedding of John and Joey.
The shortest commute of the trip began with the 19114 Train to Empoli. Thirty minutes after we boarded we found ourselves outside the train station in Ponggibonsi – the main town in the valley on the banks of the river Elsa.
Historically it was an important town in Medieval times as it lay on the Via Francigena – the main road between Rome and France that was part of the wider pilgrimage route between the Canterbury Cathedral and the ports of Apulia – a route that was taken by pilgrims and crusaders alike to gain access to the Holy Land. You can visit the remains of a Knights Templar Castle and accomodations on the south side of the city – the Castello della Magione.
This was followed by the establishment of a major theological school by the Cathars. In the 12th Century Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor, declared it an Imperial City it was later captured by Charles I of Anjou and destroyed by the Florentines. It was then ordered to be rebuilt later under Lorenzo de’ Medici (him again 🙂 ) in 1484.
In the 19th Century it fell under the French rule of Napoleon Bonaparte as part of his Kingdom of Italy.
Today it serves as the main transport hub and support centre for the nearby wine country.
It was relatively quiet in the square opposite the Ponggibonsi train station which made for a dramatic entrance of our friend Willy Mac in his small hire car. After greetings exchanged and suitcases bundled into the boot we sped off to take on the winding road up to Fattoria di Cinciano.
The estate was super cool and interesting. The drive up to it is lined with cypress trees before you reach the main square. It used to be a small hamlet and with its commanding position overlooking the Elsa Valley its fortunes waxed and waned with that of Ponggibonsi below. In the 12th and 13th centuries it was owned by a number of Bishops of Florence – which might explain the small (still consecrated) chapel next to the main Villa Zaballina. The Villa itself was impressive with a large kitchen leading out to the upper terrace. The gardens, where most of the reception would take place, are layered across three levels with classical fountains, balconies and linked by steps.
The views were the main attraction however, looking south across the Elsa Valley we were treated to some vivid sunsets.
Have you ever enjoyed pizza in a piazza while a tenor booms Nessun Dorma from a balcony in Tuscany?
Well we have.
Have you ever been to a wedding where the cake (a Milliefoglie no less) is being made moments before being cut?
Well we have.
The 3 day extravaganza wedding was everything Italian and everything amazing – right down to the marching band between ceremony and reception areas.