On my wine trip visiting Sienna and San Gimigiano Italy for a week and one of the biggest highlights of the trip was a visit to Guicciardini Strozzi Vineyard where I had the opportunity to meet two Italian Princesses.
Yep, not one, but two.
Quite possibly the best dinner that I had in Italy was at Enoteca Italiana, but dinner with two Princesses in their vineyard was pretty special.
Watch the quick video below of me being served by Princess Natalia and Princess Irina Strozzi.
They are known as Strozzi sisters and are named Natalia and Irina, and their father was a Prince, and his father was a Prince and that title stretches back over 1000 years, as well as the vineyard does in which they still live, which looks like something out of Romeo and Juliet. The vineyard boast underground wooden barrels, as well as secret underground tunnels which were built as an escape route during war, along with some of the best wine that Italy has to offer. [expand]
But the two princesses are very much in the wine business, and when my tour group arrived at the estate, set up high on a hill over looking San Gimigiano, I honestly thought she was the valet parker to the estate. She was wearing a simple white dress shirt tucked into khaki pants and had a big smile on her face as she meted us and we all piled out of the van that our Le Bacannti tour package provided.
The famous personalities and the political and economic influence of the Strozzi and Guicciardini families, linked at various times by blood relationships, tie the princesses blood line to Francesco Guicciardina, a contemporary of Niccolo Macchiavelli, the Marlborough family of Sir Winston Churchill and most famously, Lisa Gherardini del Giocondo, or in other words, freaking Mona Lisa. The sisters are frequently speculated to be direct descendants of the Mona Lisa in Italian magazines and newspapers as well as publications throughout the world.
They are also very, very nice, regular and charming people. I was impressed.
We tasted their Vernnacia wine, which is the primary white grape that is used through the region surrounding San Gimiginano, and also a wine that they developed to celebrate the vineyard being 1000 years in business.
And because Fillipo Bartolotta, our tour guide and well known wine expert, had a friendship with the Princesses, our entire group sat down to dinner with them within their vineyard estate, which is something they sometimes do for visitors to the vineyard. The whole night was spent laughing, primarily at myself because I kept constantly expressing that I was expecting something totally different when I heard we were meeting two princesses. I was expecting them coming out in gowns with big hats, guarded by Italian security, horses and also for them to be very difficult to talk to. The opposite was true. Topic of conversation included wine of course, Borat, Ali G, American television and their frustration that they want to find a better importer in America for their wine because they want to be in more locations in New York City. I told them that they should come to the Hamptons. “You’d be treated like royalty. Well, I mean, you are royalty so I guess you know what that feels like anyway, but it would still be pretty good,” I said. They all laughed.
Dinner sort of reminded me of that scene in Beauty and the Beast. All of the courses were small, but they all came out in these amazing waves of wine and food. Lasagna made from scratch, right down to the lasagna noodles, cooked peas, a braised rabbit, dessert wine and a light cake.
“So what would happen if I were to marry one of you? Would I become a prince?”
Well that sucks I thought. Being a prince of Italy didn’t sound like such a bad gig.
But let me tell you my fellow Hamptonites, let me tell you loud and clear, I did my best to get these princesses to come out to the East End next summer, my biggest selling point was that in the Hamptons, there are lots of JAP’s around, so they’d fit in.