Picture of the Year: Candidates #1 and #2 (and what is in his left pocket?)

A Cor Vos image of Tom “Tommeke” Boonen (Quick Step) practicing the cyclocross is my favorite image of the year. I saw it on the Pez Cycling News.

My second favorite image of the year is below. Please excuse my obvious bias…but please also tell me what it is in my left back pocket (as opposed to my left front jersey pocket?)?

I’m Supporting the Squadra Azzurra

Antinori Toscana Santa Cristina Sangiovese

Antinori Toscana Santa Cristina Sangiovese

Toscana – Indicazione Geografica Tipica


90% Sangiovese, 10% Merlot

Climate Vintage:
The particularly mild weather in 2007 caused early foliage development and in turn affected the harvest period, which was earlier than usual. The Merlot harvest took place from the first to the third weeks of September, while the Sangiovese grapes were harvested between the third week of September and the first week of October. Generally speaking the wine obtained shows intense colour and very typical aromas, remarkably weighty polyphenolic components and nice fine-grained tannins. The 2007 wines are therefore balanced, beautifully structured and very stylish.

After destemming and soft crushing maceration lasted about 1 week, in stainless steel vats. During this phase the wine completed alcoholic fermentation at temperatures no higher than 25°C. After racking the wine completed malolactic fermentation. It was then aged for six months in the S. Cristina in Cortona. After blending, light clarification and filtration, it was bottled in June 2008 Alcohol: 13% Vol

The first vintage of Santa Cristina, 1946, was made by Marchese Niccolò Antinori, father of Piero Antinori.

Ruby red colour with purple hues. Intense fresh fruit aromas with pleasant floral hints. Well-structured, generous, soft and harmonious. Sweet tannin and lingering fruit in the finish.

What does the Wine Spectator have to say? (who cares?)
ANTINORI Toscana Santa Cristina 2007
(85 points, $12)
“Aromas of fresh raspberry and flowers follow through to a medium-bodied palate, with an easygoing texture and a clean finish. Drink now.”

–James Suckling

What do I say? For $12.99 you’ll think you’re drinking a $40 vintage.

Italian migration policy draws fire

From the BBC, this story on Italian migration policy. As you read through the report, keep in mind this key line: “…most have no legal right to be in Italy.”

“Italy has been transformed in recent decades from a nation of emigrants to a target country for mass immigration. Aidan Lewis reports on the Italian government’s response to the tensions that have ensued, and the concerns raised by human rights groups and Italy’s European partners.

Edward Ampadu stands with his companions in a damp, abandoned factory that is home for the winter to more than 600 African immigrants. There is just one tap, and the men are living in shelters made from cardboard boxes, squatting while they look for work picking citrus fruit in the fields of Calabria, on the country’s southern toe.

Most arrived by a dangerous route through the Sahara desert and across the Mediterranean, and most have no legal right to be in Italy.

“Everybody here is struggling,” says Edward, a 42-year-old from Ghana. A poor harvest means fewer jobs to go round this year, he says, and the migrants say they need help to survive…”

Full Story.

Visconti Voyager Limited Edition Demonstrator

Montecatini Terme

Came across this great 20-year-old article on Montecatini Terme, where I lived in Italy last year.

July 20, 1986

Situated in Tuscany’s Val di Nievole, Montecatini is an experience in reverse time – a Henry James novel with a Fellini-esque edge. The town and its spas combine intrigue and activity; here the cure lies not only in the thermal waters, but in the environment as well. Ubiquitous music, endless boutiques, rainbow gelato stands, garish night auctions, crowded street markets and menus that feature 21 pastas and 25 desserts help to persuade that here is a potential slice of heaven on earth – a melange of Tuscan cuisine and culture; a legendary spa, with a lingering air of Dolce Vita.

What makes Montecatini different from other spas is the diversity of its therapeutic waters. The benefits of the waters have been known since the Etruscans settled in the area during the eighth century B.C. The Tettuccio Terme dates back to the 14th century. However, it was not until after World War II that Montecatini and its Grand Hotel e La Pace had its first modern renaissance. From 1955 to 1965 it was an international playground. The waters drew movie stars, soldiers and sheiks, including Clark Gable, Spencer Tracy, Katharine Hepburn and Prince Rainier. Recent guests have been Stephanie Powers, Robert Wagner and a sheik who arrived with an entourage of 40 wives, dozens of servants and armed guards.

It still puzzles long-term hoteliers here just what it was that originally attracted the celebrities of the 60’s and what, a decade later, made them leave. The challenge now is to maintain Montecatini, prove that its popularity was not just a passing fancy, but an enduring experience, and to lure American tourists, as well as the rich and famous.

The origin of the Montecatini waters, which still entice 150,000 visitors annually, has always been a source of interest. Since 1931, the subject has been treated in more than 700 scholarly papers. What is known is that the waters come from deep within the earth, gushing up to the surface at a temperature of 75 to 95 degrees, and getting richer and richer in salts. As the water is filtered through the subsoil, it is cleansed of bacteria and noxious impurities. Nine underground springs supply the Montecatini baths, each supposedly with different curative functions.

Read the entire article here.