Articolo disponibile anche in: Italian

Frank and Marsha Samponaro, Americans from Sarasota, Florida, visited Chianti for the first time in 1993, and they have been coming here ever since.

They came  to Radda in Chianti by chance, after friends’ parents suggested they take a vacation in Tuscany.

Frank remembers waking up at 5 AM to call the travel agency and his nervousness once arrived in Italy: no Internet, no Google maps and a lot of curves. It was love at first sight.

One of their first discoveries was the quality of real Italian food, which was nothing like the Italian-american “cuisine” from overseas.

Among the memories, Frank and Marsha remember Luciano Porciatti, who made them taste everything: “Try it, try it!” .

Radda was very different. Frank tells us, “the shops in via Roma were mainly for locals. There was tourism, but it wasn’t so imposing. The atmosphere was more tranquil and it was easy to park”.

And he adds, laughing: “I am from Radda. I can’t pay for parking!”. The spirit of the townspeople hasn’t changed. This is the reason that they always come back, even though, especially in the early years, they spent a lot of time in Florence.

Friendships, like the one with Terzo Freddolosi, were fundamental. They had long talks about how life in Chianti once was…or with Romolo Carrai and all of his family. In fact, thanks to his friendship with Romolo, a wine producer, they always return for “Radda nel Bicchiere”, an event which they know like the back of their hands.

“I still remember the first editions in the park. Now they are much more organized and complete. We always return for this occasion”. In fact, in their house, there is always good Chianti Classico, for which Frank has a passion he cultivated over the years. In the beginning, they came for a few weeks. Now they come twice a year and stay for as long as possible.

“This territory is changing” says Frank, an exuniversity professor who sees things with the eyes of an historian. “I couldn’t say how Chianti will be in 20 years. I still can see the Radda that I first knew, calm and without the chaos of tourists. But, like my friend Terzo would say, without tourism, these places would probably be abandoned”.

“In any case,” they assure us, “these are among the most beautiful places in the world, and they will always remain in our hearts together with the people who live here”.

Emanuele Grazzini