ROMAN PEASANT LIFE IN TUSCANY: THE EVALUATION OF THE CINIGIANO DIGS

Roman ruins are all over the place in Italy and locals normally stifle a yawn when zealous archaeologists lecture about the discovery of yet another Roman villa or thermal bath. Science has managed to puzzle together every minute detail of the modus vivendi of the Roman upper class, but things are very different when it comes to the majority of the population, since surprisingly little is known about the living conditions of the Roman farmer. 
  
During the last years groups of Brits and Americans hailing from the universities of Cambridge and Pennsylvania have tried to fill this enormous gap in a joint venture called the Roman Peasant Project together with the universities of Siena and Grosseto (I've written about the strange sudden influx of young attractive foreigners the project brought to our Tuscan backwater before). The team under scientific director Kim Bowes has been digging through the fields around Cinigiano summer after summer with the aim to unearth living quarters and artifacts which supply clues in regard to the way of life of the Roman farmer. 


Archaeologists of the Roman Peasant Project in a dig near Cinigiano
What did they find?


This summer the collaborators of the Roman Peasant Project are shoveling for the last time through southern Tuscany's hills. Before the closing of the digs the archaeologists have organized a talk to inform the locals about what life would have looked like for the most of us had we been born 2000 years ago. 

ARCHEOLOGI IN PIAZZA - CINIGIANO, JUNE 26 2014, 9.30 pm
The project directors will give an account of the works carried out, artifacts found and knowledge gained of the Roman empire's working class. We'll meet in front of bar Sport, Cinigiano's Athenaeum and true center of any kind of Tuscan knowledge exchange. In case of bad weather the event will be moved to the local theater (but we'll make sure you'll still get a free glass of wine afterwards). The talk is in Italian, but a lot of archaeologists will be around if you'd like to ask question in English later on. 

VISITING THE CINIGIANO DIGS: JULY 2 2014, 7 PM
Join us for a guided tour of one of the Maremma digs near Cinigiano. The significance of the unearthed Roman and medieval artifacts and remains of Tombarelle will be explained and put in context by the experts from the Roman Peasant Project. We'll meet in front of the tourist office (called Pro Loco in Italian) next to bar sport at 7 pm and drive to the dig in our own cars. 

Find more in depth info about the Roman Peasant Project on the website of the University of Pennsylvania. You're just after a drink? Read on about Cinigiano and its surely ancient aperitivo culture.  


AMIATA PIANO FESTIVAL 2014

When I first visited the Amiata Piano festival I called beforehand to make a reservation. An unnecessary one since the concert was attended by a handful of people: two of my neighbors, the mayor of our town and me with a couple of Swiss friends in tow. 


ColleMassari winery Tuscany
Waiting for Amiata Piano Festival at the ColleMassari winery


Ten years later the festival rightly celebrates its first decade and reservations have become a must for the three concert cycles that bring world class musicians to Cinigiano, a little known Tuscan town in central Maremma. Dedicated to the great Claudio Abbado, the 2014 edition will put the spotlight on some of the major names in Italy's classical music scene.

The first two cycles (called Baccus and Euterpe) take place in the Sala di Musica near Poggi del Sasso (with exclusion of the concert at the church of the Montecucco estate on the 29th of June). The final concerts at the end of August will be hold in the ColleMassari winery; its contemporary wine cellar accounting for the the architectural highlight of the festival. The concerts of the Dionisus cycle are followed by a luscious buffet - so definitely make that phone call.

AMIATA PIANO FESTIVAL 2014

BACCUS - JUNE 26 to 29
EUTERPE - JULY 24 to 27
DIONISUS - AUGUST 28 31 

For program and concert details click on the link to the official website above. 
Tickets for Baccus and Euterpe 15 € including wine tasting during the break (reduced 10 €, children under 12 for free), Dionisus 20€ including buffet diner after concert (reduced 15€, children under 12 for free). 
Reservations: tickets@amiatapianofestival.com or +39 3394220336




SAILING IN TUSCANY: SUMMER COURSES WITH THE MONTE ARGENTARIO YACHT CLUB


Sailing boat with kids and red sail near the coast of Monte Argentario



Italy's schools close for three months every summer. A fact that drives the country's parents crazy. I'm lucky enough to be able to send my two rascals off to their relatives in Switzerland for all of July. But that still leaves me with eight hot weeks in the company of an 8- and a 10-year-old who spend their days arguing with each other. 

As every Italian mother knows, the easiest way to lift the family spirit is to spend as much time as possible at the sea. And the Argentario Sailing School has the perfect address for a new summer activity, once the youngsters are beyond the age of prolonged sand castle building. 


Children sailing during the summer courses of the Argentario Yacht club


The weekly sailing courses take place from June to the beginning of September. Children need to be able to swim and can participate from the age of six. The course takes place from Monday to Saturday with morning groups for smaller kids and first timers and afternoon groups for the more experienced between the young sailors. 


Kids learning to sail near porto Santo Stefano


YACHT CLUB PORTO SANTO STEFANO

Sailing courses all through summer. Weekly prices for half day lessons from Monday to Saturday: 195 €. 
For detailed information on the children's sailing weeks or private lessons contact Marco Ferranti from the Argentario Sailing Club: +39 345 5201605 - marcoferrantimf@gmail.com

Porto Santo Stefano's yacht club also organizes an array of activities for adults and expert sailors. One of the most well known is the Argentario Sailing Week in June, which brings classic and vintage yachts from all over the world to the Mediterranean. If you don't own a sailing boat to participate in the regatta, visit Porto Santo Stefano during the weekend to admire the stylish vessels mooring in the harbor and along the Tuscan town's spectacular shore. 

VISIT TUSCANY'S RENAISSANCE GARDENS FOR FREE: MAY 25, 2014

Every year on a Sunday in May countless private Tuscan villas open the gates of their immaculately kept Renaissance gardens to the general public. 

Organized by the Associazione Dimore Storiche Italiane (the association of historic mansions in Italy) some of Tuscany's most beautiful gardens in historical estates, medieval castles and Renaissance villas can be visited for free on the day. Many of these are not accessible through the rest of the year, or if so only on payment. 

The Italian gardens of Villa Cetinale near Siena


Near Siena visits to the sublimely trimmed gardens of the recently restored Villa Cetinale in Sovicille and to the park of Villa Geggiano in the Chianti will be two of the highlights. Further south in the Maremma you'll be conceded access to the castle in Marsiliana, which consists of an entire hamlet which has been the property of the Corsini family since the 18th century (apartments on the Marsiliana estate can be rented in case you're not here on the day or you'd rather have the gardens to yourself). 

CORTILI E GIARDINI APERTI: SUNDAY MAY 25, 2014
From 10 am to 1 pm and from 3 pm to 7 pm. 
Guided tours are also available to Renaissance gardens in villas around Florence, Viareggio, Pisa, Lucca and the Lunigiana. For details check the event map on Pinterest and the ADS TOSCANA website

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