Loose Wine

Years ago, everyone living in the Italian countryside had a special place where the best of life would happen—in the cantina. There’s no real counterpart in the US because it isn’t quite the same as a basement or a cellar. In the older farmhouses the cantinas were cool windowless spaces that opened at the ground level on one side of the colonica, farmhouse. They often included an enormous fireplace—the kind you could walk into and pull up a chair to sit for a while and warm your bones.

animal stalls – workshop

The cantina most likely included adjacent stalls where the farm animals lived—directly below the main floor of the house. The warmth of the animals’ bodies helped to raise the temperature in the living quarters. Everything essential to sustain a life through the hard times found its way into the cantina:  canned goods, olive oil and just about anything else, and of course, wine. You would often go there with your friends on a sweltering summer afternoon to “sit a spell” and talk around the old wooden table, pouring a round of cool wine from the large jugs stored there. For most people, individual bottles of wine might be kept for special fancy occasions, but for everyday, wine came from a large container. And that is just how the country was in the good old Italian days.

food storage

For those of us still enamored with the allure of those fresh and healthy life-styles of yore, we find that they were not so long ago after all. In fact, they are still here today in special Tuscan places like the Frescobaldi Cantina in Sieci—a place where time stands relatively still. There is more to it than simply going to the country ferramenta, hardware store, to pick up several of the standard 5 liter flasks. Or buying a bottle brush for between-trip cleanings. Going to the cantina to buy vino sfuso, loose wine is engaging in a centuries old ritual where even city folk can get a taste of how our ancestors lived. And it’s a pretty good life at that!

winter supplies

Join us on a routine stop at the Frescobaldi Cantina where saying “il pieno, fill’er up” will provide months worth of good drinkin’ and more than a lifetime of soulful satisfaction—guaranteed! After all, the taste of the wine isn’t nearly as important as the taste of the friendship.


1 Comment

  1. This description of a cantina and colonica reminded me of stories told by my father-in-law, who was born in Veneto. He often talked about living with animals in the house before he came to America at age 10 in 1914. During the Depression he went to Chicago to work because there was no work in the coal mines or elsewhere in Indiana. He sent money home every week so that his father would always be able to make salami and wine, staples in every Italian immigrant’s home in our “Little Italy” community.


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