The journey to rediscover traces and sounds of centuries past begins on the Brunello wine route. We head south from Siena towards Montalcino – known for the king of sangiovese wines, Brunello di Montalcino – on our way to the small hamlet of Sant’Angelo in Colle. From the main roundabout of the city, we’ll take the scenic SP 14 “Traversa dei Monti” and climb to the Passo del Lume Spento, where on a clear day you can catch a glimpse of glittering waters along the Tuscan coast. Amongst the rolling hills filled with verdant vines, a fresh breeze is always to be had.
Millions of years ago, these fecund fields formed the basin for the seafloor, and the body of water would fill and recede several times over the millennia before it disappeared for good. Traces can be found today in the local soil: a complex patchwork of stone, sand, limestone, clay, marine deposits, and a clay and shale mix called galestro; some wineries even have fossils of sea creatures on display in their tasting rooms. The past provides a perfect storm for making complex wines with depth of flavor, wines that resonate in the glass and linger on the palate.
One of the best views of the entire region is from the panoramic terrace on the edge of Sant’Angelo in Colle itself. It makes you want to stick around, to stop and observe for a while, taking advantage of the two restaurants in the town, the Trattoria Il Leccio and Il Pozzo, situated side by side off the main piazza, that are both excellent purveyors of typical Tuscan fare with plenty of places to dine al fresco.
A visit to the Argiano Baroque Music Festival transports attendees to a time of courtly splendor. Evenings are dedicated to the performance of music by Baroque masters, like Antonio Vivaldi and Claudio Monteverdi, highlighting the passion of the artists – from the soprano to the traverse flute, the string ensemble to the basso continuo. The venue recreates the intimate salon-like atmosphere in the courtyard of the villa, and we feel like one of the lucky few who are treated to an energetic, operatic rendition of the finest repertoire of the era.
The preview concert for this year’s festival debuted on July 21st with a young star of the harpsichord, Jean Rondeau, with Thomas Dunford on lute. The core of the festival will be held on Friday and Sunday evenings in the second half of August. The program continues on August 18th with the Ensemble L’Archicembalo, a versatile Italian Baroque ensemble that will perform Antonio Vivaldi’s famous pieces. The same weekend, on August 20th, we will be serenaded by soprano Francesca Aspromonte, along with violinist Boris Begelman, and ensemble L’Arsenale Sonoro with their programme “Un’alma Amorosa,” a selection of arias by George Frederic Handel.
In all likelihood audience members can hear a pin drop during Marco Mencoboni’s captivating solo concert on August 25th. The virtuoso is a respected harpsichordist, conductor, and organist, dedicated to reviving Baroque and Renaissance repertoire. The festivities of the third edition conclude on Sunday, August 27th with an enthralling evening by the German ensemble “La Tabatière” honoring Carl Friederich Abel, a renowned viola da gamba virtuoso and composer, and an inspiration to many European composers of the late 18th-century.
The Argiano festival maintains its identity in the third season. Artistic director and founder Antonio Artese has built a first rate cultural experience that brings today’s stars of the Baroque repertoire to Tuscany. “It’s the atmosphere that sets this festival apart from other places to hear music. People arrive and they are surrounded by beauty. We have only 90 seats and the courtyard amplifies the acoustics of the instruments – there’s a palpable sense of anticipation, where every note lingers, and listeners hold their breath in awe of the magnificent sound and masterful musicians. In fact, we welcome them back year after year for this special experience.”
The multisensory experience that began with the stunning view, and will conclude with a concert, is punctuated by taste. To reach the optimally relaxed state for attentive listening, audience members need only be coaxed by a glass of Brunello (or Champagne) at the aperitivo hour preceding each concert. Guests are also offered the unique opportunity to tour the recently restored historic cellars beneath the villa and delve deeper into discovering the collection of Argiano wines via a special guided tasting of select labels. Knowing what type of soil lies beneath the vines became a top priority for winemaker Bernardino Sani when he joined the cantina in 2015. Together with Francesco Monari, the in-house agronomist, they undertook a comprehensive study of the soil compositions across the estate, the results of which are already evident. Several Argiano wines of the last few years are consistently gaining 92+ points by Wine Spectator, James Suckling and Vinous, while the IGT “Solengo” 2020 was selected among the best wines in L’Espresso’s “I 1000 Vini d’Italia” edited by Luca Gardini who awarded it a 100/100 perfect score!
The Argiano Baroque Music Festival has four concert dates this year: August 18, 20, 25 and 27.
From 7pm, there will be an aperitivo with Argiano wines and Champagne from the independent house Thiénot, included for all concert guests. Concerts start at 8pm and last approximately 1 hour. Email for additional information: firstname.lastname@example.org
Argiano is open for tours at 6pm on concert days (available to book on the festival webpage) and at other times upon request, email: email@example.com
Guests can also stay on the property at Argiano Dimore.