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As guests for one evening at Villa Montepaldi, an estate owned by the University of Florence, we visited the ancient rural hamlet set on an area of about 300 hectares, situated between San Casciano and Cerbaia.
This landscape has remained unchanged throughout the centuries. On the hilltop, just before the crossroads for Villa Montepaldi, one can still enjoy the panorama that is depicted in the early 16th century panel by the Master of Tavarnelle, which is hosted in the Giuliano Ghelli Museum in San Casciano. It shows the Val di Pesa, Cerbaia and the Apuan Alps in the background.
Villa Montepaldi dates back nine centuries. It was originally owned by noble families; sold in 1497 to Lorenzo de Medici, he transformed it into a model farm made up of 54 farms where wine, wheat and olive oil were produced.
This production has continued over the years, and Villa Montepaldi has become one of the most productive estates in Tuscany. Since 1989 it has been owned by the University of Florence, which uses it both to support the teaching and research activities of its Agricultural School – through practical activities for students and research activities for university professors and researchers – both for the production of high quality agricultural products.
The production includes local red and white wines – Doc, Docg and Igt – as well as extra virgin olive oil IGP and DOP, and ancient grains made into homemade pasta by a historic local pasta factory.
In one area, crops are cultivated exclusively for the benefit of hares and pheasants: no chemicals are used and the animals live in their own private oasis.
Walking around the estate, you can see the ancient settlements of the sharecropping farmers: old buildings, an ancient mill and an old kiln, are still visible. They are of course not in use today, but that shows how the ancient village used to be completely autonomous.
It is believed that a market was held here weekly, that people from neighbouring villages used to visit to make purchases. We cannot fail to mention the presence of an ancient Etruscan tomb explored in the 19th century, which today is the subject of new research.
We were accompanied on this trip by the managing director Simone Toccafondi, and by Nicola Menditto, director and internal winemaker; by Fabrizio Balò, responsible for the agronomic sector; by Emilio Falsini, winemaker responsible, Giovanni Battistelli, sales manager. And by Paolo Massimo, foreign sales manager.
The visit ended with a dinner (prepared by Nicola from the Biosteria Sbarbacipolla of Colle Val d’Elsa, with dishes served by Anna, Loretta, Federico of Villa Montepaldi) accompanied by wines such as: Tagliafune Chianti Classico DOCG vintage, which is born on the land once cultivated by Lorenzo the Magnificent.
Tagliafune Riserva Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG, Gran Selezione Chianti Classico, Gran Selezione DOCG produced only in the best vintages; Ateneo Toscana Igt, a white wine rich in peach and sage aromas.
We rounded off the dinner with the Decano Vin Santo del Chianti Classico DOC, the San Pietro Vin Santo del Chianti Classico Occhio di Pernice DOC, an ancient tradition that can never be forgotten.