I'm Tamsin Hickson, I live on an olive farm in Le Marche in Central Italy with my husband, sons, father, cats, dog, chickens, ducks (until Christmas).


  • Lunch with Aldo 1 lunch with aldo 1 table

    As lunch is so frequently a source of conversation in our house (as in, “what shall we have for lunch” – Aldo and “I’ve no idea” – me) I’ve decided to do a post on Wednesdays dedicated to Aldo’s endless creativity in this field. Of course I take some credit for this. After all, it [...]


  • Life’s but a walking shadow long shadows oct

    Put a Latin and an Anglo Saxon in one house and there will, occasionally, be war. But despite the tragic overtones of this quote from Macbeth I’m reporting on a recent victory for my side (I don’t have time to write about the multiple victories for the other side – suffice it to say that [...]

making things

  • Elderflower cordial elderflower

    When the poppies are out it’s time to order the citric acid to make elderflower cordial. Every year I go through the recipe with our local pharmacist, who takes some convincing that I really want THAT MUCH citric acid. I’ve not yet found an Italian home recipe for a drink that doesn’t contain alcohol, [...]


vinesUp in the mountains, (an hour away if I’m driving or 35 minutes with Aldo at the wheel), is the small town of Serrapetrona. The smallest classified wine producing zone in Italy, they are justly proud of their Vernaccia, which they have been making since the 1400′s. Vernaccia was the first Le Marche wine to be awarded a DOC and in November every year Serrapetrona gives a party in its honour. It is an intensely aromatic sparkling raspberry red wine, and I fell in love with it on my first taste.  I’m told that it isn’t sold much outside Italy and indeed the flavour, reminiscent of strawberries and cranberries, with spices and tannins, needs to be savoured with the right food and in the right conditions to really come into its own.grapes drying

The first stage of the production is drying the grapes, hung on racks for up to long as twenty days. The drier the grapes, the more concentrated the flavour. The wine is made in three fermentations, the final one producing the fizz.


Vernaccia festivalLast weekend we drove up through rich autumn landscapes to Serrapetrona. At the entrance to the festa we bought two glasses, each with its own bag. Long tables covered in bottles were manned by the local producers, eager to fill up our glasses. Once we’d mastered the art of walking with a filled glass in the bag around our necks, we loaded up with local salamis and cheese to go with our dry wine. The light began to fade and the square filled up with people.

vernaccia festa

To give our palates a rest we wandered around the small market stalls in the little streets off the square. I discovered a woman selling dress samples at interesting prices and Aldo ogled the wood turner’s stall.wood turner“I need one of those,” he said as I dragged him away from the lathe to taste the sweet wines, while I passed sweet biscuits and a cone of hot chestnuts to distract him from the large crinkly plastic bag that I had mysteriously acquired whilst he was studying beautiful bowls and goblets.


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