The most interesting and magical place in all of my travels so far was the day I went to Panzano. We drove several miles through the windy vineyards of Chianti Tuscany and at the top of this small hill was a piccolo (little) medieval town.
After we parked, walked into the town, and found a beautiful restaurant where we decided to grab a bite to eat before exploring the area. As we sat down outside with a ceiling of wisteria hanging above our heads the flower sent sweet aromas all around. The waiter recommended the steak with roasted vegetables which we ordered. As we sat and drank wine we chatted about the town and the beautiful restaurant we found ourselves in.
The food came out and the sizable portion of meat in front of me was so large I couldn’t believe my eyes! At least 2-1/2″ thick and almost twice the size of my hand. Starving, I scarfed down the whole thing and it was possibly the best steak I think I will ever eat. Feeling full we paid and headed out into the city center to take a look around. And as soon as we exited the restaurant the festival performance began.
A Performance to remember
In the city‘s Piazza, a cast of performers acted out a story of a young rebellious man fighting against the towns corrupt government. This young man is captured by the law and paraded through the city in a large cart pulled by one of the most amazing creatures I have ever seen, la mucca chianina (the Chianina Cow), which I will come back to in a moment.
Tragically the play ends with the young man pulled out of the cart and with a noose around his neck, is hung in the city center. It was an amazing performance but incredibly disturbing. Looking around I wondered if anyone else found this play as un-nerving as me but the spectacle had everyone entranced. Unfortunately, I couldn’t understand a word of the performance since it was performed in Italian but it was fun figuring out what was happening by the gestures and movements, not to mention my own private Italian translator, wink*.
The Amazing Chianina
Now, back to the Chianina cow. As we were standing watching the parade going by, there came a large cart being pulled by the most amazing creatures I have ever seen. While my picture doesn’t quite do their size justice, they were easily the size of a Volkswagen van. I’m not kidding. Do me a favor google ‘Chianina cow,’ go ahead, google it, and I’ll wait here… amazing right? They are HUGE! I could believe it! I had never seen anything like it in my life. Standing next to a cow that was as big as my car, I was speechless. My Italian guide then turns to me and tells me, “That was what we just ate for dinner…”
The End of the Day
After the play, we walked down the street looking at all the medieval games. We watched as kids won flower crowns or wooden swords and the adults could won bottles of wine. After taking a good look at everything we walked to the back side of the town. We sat in the setting sun light on an ivy grown stone wall and looked out on the Tuscany vineyards. It was so picturesque, like something from a movie. It was surreal to think of where I was and the amazing day I had. I felt a sense of contentment as night was approaching and the day wound down to a happy ending.