Karin Irvine grew up in the German state of Saarland near the border with France and Luxembourg. Her proximity to the Mosel, Pfalz and Alsace wine regions meant that wine was just an ordinary part of life. She has always traveled and enjoys learning about different cultures and local specialties. Photography has been part of her adventures and she has long used it to document her trips. You can find her work on Instagram.
Summer 2014—La Maremma, Tuscany, Italy
We thought we had it all planned. A wonderful vacation in Tuscany - a few days in Chianti, some beach time and two nights in Maremma to explore something new. Hotels were booked and we were looking forward. Then, over dinner with a good friend my husband happened to open a Maremma Red to have with the pasta. It was good, really good! We started digging a little deeper, words like Super Tuscan entered our vocabulary, a few more travel guides were consulted, hotels canceled and stays extended and then we spent the most beautiful week in this little part of Tuscany that is a lot less known. La Maremma.
We stayed two days on the coast - a little R&R at the beginning, watching the soccer World Cup in a little pizzeria in Punta Ala with some Russian, Italian and French guests, sipping the house wine and relishing the convivial atmosphere. Spending a day at the hotel's bagno - enjoying the Mediterranean colors and the view off Napoleon's Elba - where we had spent part of our honeymoon years before.
Then we took our little Fiat 500 across the region, to a Tuscany less kempt, wilder, with old mountain towns cut directly out of the volcanic rock. Our home for the next 4 days was a wonderful country hotel owned by the D'Ascenzi family - Relais Villa Acquaviva, a working farm and vineyard in Montemerano. From there we did lots of excursions, to the Tufa towns in the area, Pitigliano and Sorano, the sulphur hot spings in Saturnia - Cascate del Molino, the Etruscan Necropolis near Sovana, sculptor Niki de Saint Phalle's Giardino dei Tarocchi in Capalbio.
We visited local markets, the cheese coop, lounged in the gardens at the pool and the highlight of the day - dinner at La Limonaia. The property's restaurant is where Valentina D'Ascenzi creates regional and Italian specialties; Savoring Serafino's wines, nonno's eggs and breads that are baked from wheat growing on the land, the meats are locally sourced by farmers and hunters, the vegetables from their gardens. After dinner a leisurely stroll along the vineyard to our little suite - enjoying the lights in the park and listening to the frogs and the sounds of the Tuscan night.