Postcard From Italy No. 1 – Florence, a Vineyard Visit and Delightful Lunch

Notes from travels earlier this summer…

And now another note (8.11.14)…Please pardon the missing images. We are working to restore our site from the Massive Russian Computer Hack of 2014...

On the heels of painting in Provence the week before (in previous posts), I flew to Florence to await His Grace (aka my husband for new readers) for a few days of Italy #aslongaswedon’thavetogotoanychurches. Absolutely, I told HG, no problem. Does that include Gucci?

Visiting  a vineyard and lunch with a winemaker sounds good, I think, and is both church- and Gucci-free. That the winemaker is also young, pretty and a good cook assures HG’s approval. Oprah calls this “What I know for sure.” 

Visiting a vineyard when you already live in one is a bit of a busman’s holiday, but  a Tuscan vineyard is so Merchant & Ivory, you know? Ours at Rancho La Zaca is more Roy & Dale, if you are old enough to know who they are.

Please don’t tell me you have not heard of Roy Rogers and Dale Evans.

Fattoria Resta is built around the remains of a 16th century convent. Photo via

I mean, ours is beautiful, but it don’t look like this.

Poor HG, I wouldn’t even let him go to the hotel first. He is off the plane and hurtling through the Tuscan countryside quick as you can say cacciatore. Who could tire of the  Tuscan countryside? Not mio.

I try not to stop to take pictures…

Tuscan Countryside, taken from the car

But I can’t help it… real fast, I promise.  Just slow the car down and I will jump out and back in with it still moving...

Tuscan Countryside and Poppy Field

Each scene is like a painting. And now I’ve been practicing in France, I actually might paint some of them.

About an hour-and-some out of Florence, we turn up the little dirt road leading to Fattoria Resta, the home of (aforementioned good-looking-good-cooking) Annalisa Tempestini and her Martin del Nero  wine.

Ooh please slow down one more time…

Tuscan Countryside

Okay just one more…

Tuscan Countryside

We arrive, turning through a pretty gate… cue the cypress trees, please …

Fattoria Resta – entrance – looking away from house toward driveway

 … into the courtyard of the former 16th-century monastery that is now Annalisa’s home. We are near the town of Buonconvento, gateway to the Orcia Valley, near Montalcino. The grapes are our favorite Sangiovese, which we also grow at home. 

Courtyard, Fattoria Resta, Tuscany

HG is a bit jet-lagged, understandably, so I am hoping he will not notice there is a you-know-what  right there in front of us. Well it was a monastery, after all. Where else are they s’poze to chant and what not, in the kitchen? Maybe he won’t notice…

The church at Fattoria Resta

We are greeted warmly by Annalisa, who shows us around. She has the 90-minute version in mind and HG has the 10-minute. We compromise at about 30, including the churchwhich I think HG does notice, what with altar and pews and all. But I crop him out of the photo, except for part of arm and stomach, (the latter of which, like mine, is smaller here than at the end of the trip). But I wanted you to see the pretty altar and portrait of Madonna, and Annalisa.

With Annalisa Tempestini, at the altar of the chapel at Fattoria Resta.

Services are still held intermittently in the church, at harvest-time and on other grateful occasions. Annalisa is also grateful to the brick mason who helped build  the place in 1573, and who carved a memento around one of the brick pillars of the wine cellar. Annalisa translated it, I of course have forgotten it, but old Martino had a sense of humor. He would have liked Annalisa and would be happy she was here.

16th-century brick mason Martino del Nero’s chiseled note into the bricks of Fattoria Resta’s wine cellar, with the date 1573.
Martin del Nero wine

He would also no doubt be flattered that she named her wine after him, and not Napoleon, who was also here.

Napoleon slept here.

Annalisa’s philosophy of wine and winemaking is heartfelt and interesting to read. Her passion is palpable in every word–spoken and written. No small wonder she has an equally passionate following, including some of New York’s biggest chefs. “Do you know Danny Meyer? Please give him a hug for me!” Will do, Annalisa!

Danny Meyer is cute as anything.

And then blessed be, it is time for lunch. When I go to wash my hands, even the view from the loo is spectacular.

View From the Loo – Fattoria Resta

And over to the left…

View From the Loo – Fattoria Resta

 The kitchen looks like a still life, with Vermeer-like light.

Preparations for lunch – Fattoria Resta

She makes her own pasta. Of course she makes her own pasta.

Annalisa Tempestini with her pasta

We dine on a loggia outside the kitchen, just the three of us, with yet another splendid view. This makes up for the church visit. I think.

Fattoria Resta – the view from the table

After lunch we briefly greet Annalisa’s family and have a quick tour of her office, which includes a mini-gallery of drawings and paintings. Here’s a charming one of hers, pardon the angle, but it was that or glare.

Painting by Annalisa Tempestini

 The sentinel cypress on the road outside the gate is also appealing as a  subject.

Cypress tree drawing and wash

I look forward to trying it myself…

A lone cypress at Fattoria Resta, Italy, photo via

Back to Florence. This time I do not stop for pictures because it might interfere with HG’s nap. But I do snap a few from the car in motion. Not the best focus… or maybe that’s the wine… Why is it when you drink wine at lunch you fall asleep, but when you drink it at dinner you turn into a go-go girl, if you’re old enough to remember what they are.

Don’t tell me if you’re not.

Tuscan Countryside

The Four Seasons in Florence might be one of the prettiest hotels I’ve ever seen, built around an old palazzo and set on five acres of gardens. Bellissimo

Four Seasons Florence

They give you a little Buongiorno with your berries, a nice touch.

Four Seasons Florence – Buongiorno and Berries

Italy Postcard No. 2 coming up…

Previously, Postcard From Provence No. 1 here, No. 2 here, and No. 3 here.

Our Florence arrangements were made through friend and super-fab Brownell travel agent Catherine Whitworth, working with the equally fab gals of One Step Closer in Florence. Grazie again, y’all.


  1. Just finished up my own interlude in Italy. So many gorgeous places and things to see. Fattoria Resto looks amazing, and your sunset photo of that cypress will be perfect for painting. Grazie mille for taking me back to this sensuous and calorie-laden place.

    1. Thank you, Alison, and YOU ALL need to read her Gracious Posse advice on traveling with the fam to Italy. Her information is actually useful, which is way more than I can say about mine. And her blog is wonderful, if you don’t know it already…. Also need to point out the sunset photo is not mine but from the Fattoria website, as noted in caption, but maybe I better be more emphatic about that in future. I do believe in giving proper credit whenever humanly possible – and not using the image when I cannot, unless it is super-generic. 🙂

  2. Thank you so much for transporting me from Hotlanta this morning! The cypress trees and rolling hills did the trick.

  3. Dear Frances,
    Every time I spot a post from you in my inbox a big grin spreads across my face and I wonder, “What is she up to today?” I love reading every word of your beautiful writing, but most of all I love your beautiful spirit.

  4. Frances and HG,
    Know Rancho La Zaca wonderful and home for you. The age of all in Italy sure has the patina we all in this country are in awe of. Ah it is! We are loving your beautiful pictures. Meanwhile Your beautiful neice and Joey are back from their Carribean sail and soooo cute and fun. Duvall is a saint making a move and entertaining them all at once. Hats off to you girls. Send more pictures…loving it!!!!!!!!!!
    Lynn and Dick

    1. Thank you so much Lynn, as always. Yes your are right about that patina. And about my Sainted Sister. I don’t know how she does it. I hope the girls did not scare off all the pirates… Love, Frances

  5. I wanna go, I wanna go! I feel this after each of your recent travel pieces, but never more than this! I must have seen similar scenes years ago in my travels working with Vietri, and surely photographed from a moving car!! Your photos are exquisite, and great fodder for painting…go for it! And let us see….! Thanks !!

    1. Go! Go! I read somewhere that travel is the only thing that costs money but makes us richer… I can only imagine your travels with the wonderful NC-based (yay!) ceramics company Vietri. Lucky you! Thanks for writing. x Frances

  6. I remember the GO~GO GIRL………..and you just took me down memory lane…….you were on the autostarda headed SOUTH!Do you remember coming back to Florence and seeing the exit FIRENZE SUD?Well that was my exit for home when we lived there many moons ago!Looks like the countryside is still the same!THANK GOD!Your photos are STUNNING……..and I look forward too seeing your paintings!Glad you and HIS GRACE…..?(is that what you called him!)got some time away together.PS.My Italian husband and I met because of GUCCI, but I will leave that comment for another time!!

    1. Lucky YOU Contessa, actually LIVING there! And we do need to hear that story sometime – unless you’ve told it on your blog?? In which case a link perhaps?? Grazie for writing. So happy you’ve joined us! Frances

  7. Hi Frances,
    This is one of your best posts ever…Beautiful photographs and hilarious copy..
    i felt like I was a Go-Go girl in another life,and Roy and Dale were part of my childhood…Did you know Fred Kirby,as well? He was NC’s Roy Rogers…
    anyway, keep it up…And let me know when your book is out

    1. Oh thank you, Croft, and thank goodness you remember all of the above, and heck yes I remember Fred Kirby!… Will def keep you posted on the book… if I can get around to finishing the dang thing… xox Frances

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *