It’s Vendemmia (grape harvesting) weekend in the garden where I’m staying in Florence. It’s been a buzz of work for those who actually work, they’ve been prepping all week for the Sunday harvest.

Natures pure nectar

Natures pure nectar

All the tools used to pick, collect, crush and store the grapes need to be cleaned and organized. Each year hundreds of families repeat this process in order to harvest their vines. At Residenza del Palmerino, in addition to inviting family & friends, Federica and Stefano have graciously extend the invitation to guests staying on the property, to join in this once in a lifetime experience. (this is my 2nd Vendemmia, they can’t get rid of me)

The Grape roll-press

Home made Grape press

As my cottage is in the vineyard, I have a front row seat to the comings and goings of the various family and helpers who make this day possible.IMG_1075



My role will be to stay out-of-the-way… if I achieve this basic task, I’ll be allowed to assist Federica with cooking, as well as table & chair set-up. If I’m particularly well-behaved, I’ll be authorized to rake the leaves gathering on the outdoor dance floor.

The rake on a break

The rake awaiting his dance partner….

The serving table prior to the food... I neglected to take a picture when it was full as I was busy EATING!

The serving table prior to the food… I neglected to take a picture when it was full as I was busy EATING!

Yesterday, I offered to make an authentic Italian salad for the event… I experience a pang of fear at the thought of serving this traditional salad to women who have been making and eating said salad since their first vendemmia:  In this next video are random thoughts and hollow promises to myself:

This morning, as I sat curled in a chair, savouring the first whisper of daylight, I noticed movement in the vineyard. There have been wild boar spotted on the property and the activity caught my attention.

As I squinted in the early morning light I realized it was the resident gardener, Beppe, he was hunched over removing the protective netting from the vines.

Netting to keep the birds away...

Netting to keep the birds away…(this pic was taken one month prior to harvest)

In the heat of summer, a netting is placed over the ripening grapes preventing birds from enjoying the fruit prior to harvest. Beppe was starting his long day of preparations for our enjoyment.

Most of us rarely think of the work that goes into throwing a party. From my vantage point, it’s unmistakable the effort that goes into this one and I for one feel privileged to be invited. As the guests arrive, I snap a few shots of grape harvest 2015:


Caught in the action..

Family time

The family that plays together…


A basket half-full… get clipping


This young man worked tirelessly. Bravo


Smiling is optional


Remember; no leaves. Makes for bitter vino.

Getting in on the action...

Me in action…actually, this photo is staged, I had a friend snap this shot prior to returning to my self-appointed duties as the event photographer.


Adorable Italians….

The family hired a band and the below video is their introduction to the Vendemmia:

We dance into the night:

This last video is of an impromptu performance by one of the woman staying on the grounds and two of her colleagues from the university:

By the way, the Italian ladies kind of  liked my salad. I noticed a few plates with the onions picked out. I guess I need to pull back on my amounts.

Below is the recipe in case you’re a fan. FYI- I’ve adjusted the onion amount in the recipe

**Italian Cannelloni Bean Salad**

Dried Cannelloni Beans – 1 package (680 grams or 1.5 lbs) Soak in plenty of water in a large dish over night, careful your bowl is large as  they will double in size.

Yellow Onion – 1  – Peel and cut into 4 sections

Sage ~ 1 bunch (of herbs of your choice Rosemary-Orageno)

Garlic – 5 cloves- peeled

Sea Salt ~ 8-grams – 1 Tablespoon

Place drained beans in pot and fill with water- add Onion, Sage, Garlic and Salt.

Bring to a boil – Simmer 2-3 hours until beans are cooked. Reserve (260 grams – 1 cup) cooking water and drain off remainder. (this step can be done a day ahead. You can use canned beans, however, they won’t have the same flavour without cooking them yourself in the flavour enhancing ingredients)

In a serving bowl lightly mix:

Cooked Beans

Purple Onion ~1 small – sliced paper thin (250grams-1 cup) soaked in water 30 min.

Olive Oil ~ (76 grams – 1/3 cup)

Reserved Water from cooking beans – (250 grams – 1 Cup)

Sea Salt and cracked pepper to taste.

Garnish with fresh chopped Rosemary ~ (optional)

buon appetito!!!

About Italian Living

I'm an interior decorator from Canada. I own a design firm. I have three grown daughters who are confidant women living busy lives. I love my family my friends and my life, however, something is missing. December 3rd, my eyes open at 3:33 a.m. It's time to fulfill my lifelong dream of living in Italy..... I rent my house, pack my bags, say a final farewell to all the people I love most in this world and hop on a plane January 13th.... alone. This is my story...
This entry was posted in FRIENDSHIP, Gratitude, ITALY, Tuscany, Vendemmia and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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