Italy’s reboot to its hurting tourism industry can easily and must focus on beauty. No other country in the world has as many aces up its sleeve as Italy - Italy is what you get when you combine destiny and favorable Nature with a lifetime of intelligent anthropic commitment.
Much of this renowned Italian beauty is also productive at heart, and is linked to the fruits of the earth, such as wine and oil. A winning combination especially in Tuscany, a land beloved by foreign tourists for over 30 years, precisely thanks to this convergence of beautiful, wholesome things, like the incredible landscapes, awe-inducing arts, enviable food, and memorable drink.
If you’re a winery that meets all these requirements, consider yourself fortunate! Rocca delle Macìe is just one such Tuscan winery, established 40 years ago in the hills of Castellina in Chianti, the very-much-alive heart of the Chianti Classico wine region. With nearly a half a century of incredible existence, the dream of Rocca delle Macìe’s founder, Italo Zingarelli, has continued to grow both in hectares and in ambition. From this dream, the newest generation of Zingarelli wine-makers has created the Riserva di Fizzano, representing the hospitable side of the Rocca delle Macie wine estate.
In any sort of company, knowing when to pass the reins on to younger generations is a crucial part of business success and survival. The Zingarelli family has clearly demonstrated a special sensitivity to this need, and all successions have been handled with delicate hands. Sergio Zingarelli, today’s owner of Rocca delle Macìe, experienced this transfer of leadership by following his father’s footsteps at age 20. Today, thanks in part to his own experiences, he’s now guiding Andrea and Giulia, his two children. Andrea is more involved in the management side of the business, while Giulia has undertaken more of the hospitality-related activities with the winery business.
GIULIA’S VILLAGE, THE RISERVA OF FIZZANO
Obviously we are not talking about a princess and her castle, but about a 30-something young woman who has always taken in the ambiance of the Tuscan countryside and her family’s winery estate, physical grounds that have all become her “office,” and inspiration.
Purchased in 1985 by Italo Zingarelli, Giulia’s grandfather, the village of Fizzano was reduced to little more than rubble, but had an exceptional location on the hill of Castellina in Chianti, surrounded by 70 hectares of forest and vineyards. Fizzano’s most ancient structures date back to the year 1000, and fortunately for us, the oldest parts were restored to their previous glories during careful, attentive restoration work undertaken to save the village.
"It took more than ten years of work,” says Giulia. “The first part of the relais was opened in l998, with the restaurant added two years later. Obviously we are talking about years when I was little, but I have distinct recollections of the first big arrivals of German visitors. Over the years, Americans and Northern Europeans have been keen visitors as well, and our Asian guests still represent smaller numbers.”
For Giulia, Fizzano's stones and village panoramas represent her home. Growing up in these special spaces gives her the desire to focus on a sense of family and belonging.
“My family’s great strength has always been to believe in the power of the team, be it in the family Team as well as with our collaborators. In the Riserva di Fizzano, this informal ambiance rules. Fizzano is a large, open house where guests enjoy full relaxation, and the informality our staff offers,” Giulia explains.
It is certainly a charming place, and utterly lacking in anything pretentious. I believe that my age helps make Fizzano more enjoyable, and has certainly assisted in the rejuvenation of the relais’ look and small details,” Giulia concludes.
PASSO DOPO PASSO, RISRVA DI FIZZANO’S NEWEST GASTRONOMIC PROPOSAL
The latest innovation in the Fizzano world was born from a concept and intuition Giulia herself had.
"I was having dinner with a friend to test one of the many restaurants that we visit for work. In a restaurant near San Gimignano, I met Maurizio Bardotti, whose culinary approach and dishes I was already familiar with. I know the dishes and the thought process Bardotti follows.
I immediately liked him, but some time passed before we were to meet again. Eventually, the Rocca delle Macìe winery team organized a company dinner, where we met once again. Here I was able to offer Bardotti the responsibility of becoming our Executive Chef.
The long development time of this acquisition was also the inspiration for the restaurant’s name, Passo dopo Passo (Step by Step). My family strongly abides by this entrepreneurial philosophy: no need to run, as our lands teach us. For long-lasting success, you need to have foresight, and long, broad views ahead.”
MAURIZIO BARDOTTI’S CUISINE
The Passo dopo Passo restaurant has an undeniable Tuscan imprint, that clearly meets the expectations of both Italian and foreign visitors alike as the explore this part of Tuscany.
Bardotti’s wise approach to cooking belies his young 40 years. Following in the wisdom of countryside cooking, Bardotti focuses above all else on local products and the authenticity they bring each dish. Bardotti works with locally-sourced seasonal ingredients from nearby sources, and primarily with produce culled directly from the Fizzano estate’s recently-expanded vegetable garden.
Beginning his experience at Fizzano in June, Bardotti has already left a positive aura to the Passo dopo Passo menu, redefining the proposed dishes in a clear, clean fashion. This allows for quick recognition from customers who might not be steeped in Tuscan cuisine, and makes healthy dining an affordable solution for everyone. Of course, Bardotti does add some personal flair and creativity to the menu, with a lightness typical of fine osterias. If we need further confirmation of Bardotti’s welcome addition, Giulia and Sergio are both big fans.
"I'm crazy about the poached egg" says Sergio, and Giulia also testifies to her newfound love of pigeon thanks to Bardotti’s deft culinary abilities.
A GRAN SELEZIONE MADE BY RISERVA?
Not just a mere play on words, the title above is also a description of one of Rocca delle Macìe's historical wines, their Chianti Classico from the Riserva of Fizzano. This selection contains a majority Sangiovese grapes accented by Colorino grapes, each coming from the estate’s 35 hectares planted in the early 1980s.
The first bottle was released some years later, becoming known as the Riserva Fizzano, both after the estate where the wine is produced but also as the wording of the disciplinary of creating Riserva wines. It kept this peculiar name until 2011, when it was changed to Gran Selezione.
With just under two hectares of land, the Rocca delle Macìe wine-makers skillfully create this cru. Their elegant wine is born and raised in a vineyard blessed with south-west exposure, and soil rich in sand and fossils, providing the perfect duo and soil richness that these grapes need. The end result: a graceful wine masterfully reflecting its birthplace and that endlessly makes the Zingarelli family proud.
Reading about these Chianti Classico wines makes you want to come on over and visit, so while we look forward to renewed travel, be sure to get your Chianti knowledge all up to speed. Mamablip’s already explored a bit of the Chianti region for you here, so come check it out. And don’t miss Francesca’s other explorations of Italian food and wine trends here.
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