By Rachel Sandall
Article originally appeared in B Wedding Magazine/WeddingsOnline.ie
They are the moments that you remember, the ones eternally seared into your brain. You remember the smell of the air, what shoes you were wearing and the music in the restaurant. The moments come few and far between, but when they do, you never forget them. My boyfriend and I visited San Felice Winery on a recent trip to Tuscany and after a wonderful day of wine tasting and a five course meal, he asked me to be his wife.
San Felice is everything an Italian winery should be. It is set amongst rolling vineyards, in the middle of the Tuscan countryside and is built over an ancient Etruscan settlement. Its properties and the medieval borgo have all been converted to one of the finest wineries, hotels and restaurants in all of Tuscany. It is the quintessential Italian get-away, and the ideal place for having one of those life-changing moments, which thankfully, my boyfriend picked up on…
We arrived from Siena and travelled the 20 minutes by taxi to San Felice. The drive through the Chianti region is enough to satisfy any tourist. Quaint villages, grand wineries and cute old Italian men on tractors are just some of the things you will find along the way. But the grandest vista is the drive up to San Felice, with views of its 49 acres of vineyards and converted medieval buildings.
Atmosphere is everything at San Felice. The staff at San Felice understands instinctively how to make guests feel like they are the only people in the whole hotel, yet make sure they don’t lift a finger for their stay. Character and charm is literally around every corner of the grounds. It feels more like a wealthy Italian nobleman’s house than a hotel, the rooms are finished with furniture by local craftsman, and come with a bottle of the world renowned San Felice olive oil and a window to appreciate the amazing views.
Cinzia Fanciulli, the General Manager of San Felice warmly greeted us and invited us for lunch at the Poggio Rosso Restaurant. Cinzia made sure we got a tour of the exquisite kitchen and met Chef Antonio Fallini, she ordered us the finest wine and let us try the delectable tomatoes and home-made olive oil. But what was most impressive about Cinzia, was her interest in all the guests who make their way to San Felice. Whether she is planning a one night stay for a honeymooning couple or organizing a destination wedding for 50 people, there is nothing the team at San Felice won’t do to make sure it is the best possible experience. By the end of our lunch we had talked about everything from our opinions on Irish beef, to the number in our families and Cinzia had persuaded my boyfriend that a move to Tuscany (an idea he had been pondering since our arrival in Italy) would be a bit brash in the current economic climate.
Even though at this point I was not engaged yet, all I could think of was how perfect a wedding at San Felice would be. The grounds are an old medieval village, they come complete with two chapels, one of which holds Mass and functions as a church for many in the area. The best part of a destination wedding is that you can spend more time with your guests and really make your wedding an event. San Felice has several rooms which would work perfectly for private dining and parties. Guests can stay in the hotel, enjoy the Tuscan region and get a holiday out of their visit.
The fact that San Felice is not only a luxurious hotel and restaurant, but also a functioning winery, makes a visit that much richer. After a tour of the winery grounds, it was obvious that wine is the passion of San Felice. Since we wanted to get the full San Felice experience we thought it necessary for us to do a little wine tasting of our own, and though we are far from wine connoisseurs, the San Felice Chianti Classico blew us away.
The word ‘fresh’ takes on a new meaning after a dining experience at Poggio Rosso Restaurant. The bread, pastries and gelato are made in the Poggio kitchen, the tomatoes, meat and fresh fruit is grown within 50 miles of San Felice and everything else is from the best suppliers in Italy. Each course of specialties like beef tartar, pigeon ravioli and veal medallions showcased Fallini’s pursuit to perfection. The service at the Poggio Rosso is like a well choreographed dance, each part perfectly synchronized and timed with the others; creating a dining experience that even for Italy, makes all others pale in comparison.
We decided to take a walk after dinner to work off some of the tartar and gelato. It seemed we were the only people in the entire borgo as we walked between the narrow alleys and made our way to the veranda overlooking the hills of the winery. I wore a floral dress I bought for my holidays last spring, the smell in the air was a mix of fresh air and mint and there was no sound except a chorus of crickets, and that’s when he asked me to marry him, the moment that will be with me always-my moment at San Felice.
Visit the San Felice website for more info.