One summer’s day at Montemasso
Picture yourself travelling up and down on the same day at the height of summer. Heading south of Florence and up a few hundred meters into the hills. Picture yourself tackling the gravel road, releasing a mist of dust that rises up against the light. Continue on foot, your steps cracking on the stones and your sight obscured by the morning sun. The sudden shade of woodland and cypress trees, lined up at the edge of the road. Bends, narrow and hairpin. Narrow hairpin bends heading up the hill beside overhangs and wide-ranging views.
At the top of the drive stands the clearing and the gate, with stone giant that’s dozed off in the summer heat. Not yet ready for the bacchanalia of the grape harvest, but blessed in its hieratic beauty, here in the iridescent dawn light.
The city unfurls in the distance. Florence appears to be placidly resting, forgetting about the rest of the world in the tepid haze on the plain. Here we only breathe in fresh air, the ether which nourishes the vines, resplendent in their greenery.
Montemasso has stood here for centuries and conceals a lively history that started in the tenth century with brotherhoods who established the San Salvatore Oratory in 1363. Then there were changes in ownership, families, noble dynasties and ecclesiastical orders down to our day with the renovations that restored its former glory. Now Montemasso is a resort and cellar for Ruffino’s finest old red vintages.
Look around. It’s early morning and we hear chirping and twittering. The air is brimming with wonder, shouts and whistles.
The top of Montemasso reveals traces of Etruscan and Roman settlements. The Via Maremmana, the old route between Fiesole and Grosseto, helped to develop these places, encouraging sheep farming, which has been facilitated by this constant track down the centuries.