Sunday afternoon….. Special Invite to Vintage Fiat Cinquecento Event

How would you like spend your Sunday afternoon in Tuscany?

Many who know me, know my love for all things vintage. Amber Ostrich is where my original business of selling all things vintage was born.

This past Sunday, the local Fiat 500 Motor Club called CinquinoSiena had a gathering of their classic Fiat 500’s and a wine tasting for locally produced wines in the territory of Berardenga.

fiat suitcase

There were over 40 of these super mini vehicles, which their owners go to great lengths to restore, and personally customize to their liking.




They were on their way to a Chianti Classico Wine Tasting Event, which was held  at Certosa di Pontignano,  a beautiful 14th century Abbey  just outside Siena, Italy.

wine sign fiat








We were had stopped with our client Jenny to take some photos on the property of the Losi family estate. We were perfectly poised to capture the following short video (see bottom of post) of the vintage cars as they motored their way down the country lane that runs through the Losi family vineyard.

We were honored to receive a special invitation to attend the wine tasting with the members of the club. Our client Jenny was very pleased to be able to sample such a variety of wines in a beautiful setting.

jenny car yellow







You just can’t help but smile as these classic cars roll by. They remind me of an era where friends and families would take a Sunday ride through the countryside and make a picnic or walk in the forest.

fiat small red


Stay tuned….. for re-cap of this coming Sunday as we explore more of the local color here in Tuscana.






Here is the You Tube Video of the vintage cars rolling by, horns beeping and riders waving!

How do they classify Brunello di Montalcino?

Every year the Consorzio del vino Brunello di Montalcino classifies the new wine production. The evaluation takes place in January. The wine rating is expressed in stars corresponding to the following classifications:

  • One star- insufficient vintage
  • Two stars- fair vintage
  • Three stars- good vintage
  • Four stars- excellent vintage
  • Five stars- outstanding vintage
    The declaration of the stars assigned to the latest vintage is announced each February.


Hand painted tile on wall in Montalcino.   #instatuscany #winetour #Brunello

Starting in 1992 the Consorzio has commissioned a commemorative tile to place on the wall of the town hall in Montalcino.
The tiles are created by people from all backgrounds and all parts of the world.
The tiles are hung in February during the ‘Benvenuto Brunello’ event.

Brunello tile Montalcino Italy


Some of the tiles are shown here with Venus my Chihuahua!

Montalcino Consorzio del Vino Brunello tiles with my Chihuahua Venus

Come and be part of the new release event!
Let me help you plan your trip now.

If you like to meet and mingle with the locals and see
what Italy is like without all the “tourists.” See pics of our adventures.

This is a perfect time of year to visit.

Montalcino street in early March without tourists. Come see Tuscany in the off season!

This photo was taken in Montalcino in early March.

Just another reason to visit Italy in the off season with ‪#‎italyunfiltered‬


Getting Fresh In Italia

Getting Fresh in Italia

I enjoy exploring Italy during the winter months. Lack of tourists has its benefits, many will agree. This winter is the first time I am here in Italy as a student at Siena School for Liberal Arts.


Hallway with old photos at Siena School for Liberal Arts in Siena, Italy







A few years ago, I traveled to Sicily with my friend Libby during summer. This was her first time to Italy. She told me about her Nonna who used to make stuffed artichokes for her.

Libby, la prima volta in Italia

Libby, la prima vo;ta in Italia








It came as a bit of a shock to Libby that the dish she so desired was not available.

Wait staff would smile and tell us artichokes or Carciofi as they are called here, are a winter vegetable, and you will not find ANY in Sicily during this time!

In hindsight this makes perfect sense, if we can for a moment step out of our America mindset. What is so natural for an Italian, had us caught us slightly off-guard.

Since that trip, I have come to enjoy the traditional way of eating that defines most of Italy. Fresh, local and in season. When something is in season the locals can’t seem to get enough.

Italian Peppers






When I first arrived three weeks ago, I noticed towering mounds of artichokes offered at local produce stands. Shoppers almost elbowing each other to get to the wonder thistle home to the family dinner table.







Eating what is in season has many benefits. Not only does it help promote the local food culture and farmers, it also promotes sustainability.

I recommend savoring Italian produce in season, and at its peak. Your taste buds will thank you for it. Try one of our Private Food Tours to experience Italy like a local!

Catania Flea Market-Round Two Winter 2014

sicily catania Mt Etna view from roof B&B

View from patio of Bed & Breakfast in Catania Italy 

I traveled back to Catania this week to catch up with some old friends and to meet up with my newly made friends the Soffers, who also decided to visit Sicily around the same time.

I made my way from the airport to San Placido Inn Bed & Breakfast. I was once again warmly greeted by Orazio and Valentina the owners. Being a Saturday evening, one of the first topics of converstaion was the Sunday morning flea market, otherwise known as the Mercado de Pulcie.

Orazio has been decorating his B&B with flea market finds for years, and perhaps it was one of the first things that made me feel right at home here, a couple of years ago when I first stayed with them. Their warm hospitality and kindness has always made me feel welcomed and like I am coming home, when I stay here.

This time Orazio asked me if I would like to join him on Sunday morning. I know from what I see in the B&B that he has a good eye, and probably could supplement his ‘day job’ as a ‘picker’! So I am excited to tag along and see what I can learn about Italian flea markets from a well seasoned local!

I have my breakfast and meet Horacio and Valentina’s two children for the first time. Angelica and Simione. They too are ready to join us on this Sunday morning adventure.

Firstly it notice that the location of the flea has changed since I was last here, and it seems to be better laid out in this new area which was close by the B&B.
flea long shot with tent corner

I am really once again not looking for anything in particular, as is my usual mode when scouring flea markets, but I do stick to my, has to be small and light enough to fit in a carry-on or my suitcase.

I spot this funny little vintage toy. The front of the car reads, Animals Police. Which is a good thing, cause I am not sure how I would react if I was pulled over and the officer turned out to be dressed as a clown!

clown car








Of course just like with most flea markets there is the usual, general household ‘stuff’

stuffed animals flea





But take a look at these vintage Sci-fi magazines, the covers would make for some cool art projects!

flea magazines pulp







We had a great day out, and I did manage to find a few small, light items to bring back to Austin. One being a somewhat creepy vintage wind up toy. It is so bad it is good, sort of thing. And of course there is always the, scare your Chihuahua factor. My dog, does not know what to make of this that is for sure as it kind of limps and churns across the carpet.

wind up















On the way back to the car, we stop in a small shop for a traditional Sicilain breakfast treat.

bb ball

They are called Panzerotti. Pastry stuffed with chocolate. Did I mention that they were STUFFED with chocolate? see the close up photo below.


bb ball two closeTalk about a chocolate overload! Oh My it was soooo delicious.

As we make our way back to the car, I could not help but wonder if I had witnessed the next generation of flea market shoppers in Angelica. Here is she with her dad, and the treasures they had found that day at the ‘mercato de pulcie’ Flea Market.

two flea the end















The end.

Back in Italy, December/January 2012-2013

It has been a long while since I took a winter vacation, or at least a winter vacation to a cold climate destination. While this trip started in the somewhat temperate South of Italy, in Catania, Sicily, this past week took me to the far North of Torino, where we even had snow! I return to visit with my friend Tiziana’s family.

Sara, myself, Dominque, and Marta

Sara, myself, Dominque, and Marta


Prosecco, Elvis and My Mac

roccat-superior-labelNext day. The Vogel’s invite me to take a drive with them, as they were on the way to purchase some cheese.

I gladly accept.  We stop along the way and Doris points out a couple wonderful restaurants she has tried on past trips. Then we happen upon Roccat Winery. As we pull up in front I realize that I have ‘been’ to this winery before, in my pre-travel internet planning. Let’s say I paid a virtual visit to this place in the recent past.

I recall the fact that this is the winery that hosts a yearly vintage tractor parade. Thanks to youTube, I came across  a link to the winery, expecting to see a visual tour of the vineyards and wine making etc. At first glance as I see a single tractor rolling across the screen, that it is meant to show the workings of a vineyard.  I think to myself, ok, nice web presentation, rustic charm, etc. Then a moment later another tractor rolls across the screen, ok,  so it is harvest season, and they are busy, then I see a 3rd and 4th, and more! I quickly read the text  and make the translation, and discover it is actually a vintage tractor show hosted on-site at the Roccat winery. In fact these are not just any run of the mill John Deer type tractors. Remember we are in Italy. Many of these tractors  were made by Lamborghini. Yes the creator of the Lamborghini sports car, originally owned a tractor company. And later, even Ferrari eventually got into the tractor business. The rest as they say Is History!

Check out this link:

As we file out of the car we are warmly greeted by the owner Codello Clemente.

roccat-front-areaHe remembers Doris and Thomas since they have also stayed at his winery B&B in the past. We walk into the large tasting room, and immediately a fresh bottle appears and 5 wine glasses.

There is some quick catching up, between the Vogal’s and the Clemente, they explain that they brought me an (American from Texas) along to try his wine. (Prosecco)

roccat-pouring-of-the-wineCelemente comments to me that he loves American Music, I ask which type and he mentions Blues. I am impressed, a few moments later he appears with a short stack of record albums, which include Ottis Redding and Elvis. He then admits he is a big Elvis Fan.

I remember that I have my laptop with me, so I turn it on and search my I-tunes library.  I already know I don’t have any Ottis or Elvis, but I do have a collection of oldies,  some English beat, etc. I chose a couple of songs to play and Celemente is suddenly like a big purring cat, he is content with the sound of the music from my laptop.

roccat-and-macbookMy network preferences shows there is a strong internet connection at the winery and no WEP lock!  Wow… here I am and I can connect, easy peasy… it then dawns on me that I can quickly download some Elvis music and play for Celmente.

As I do that, the Vogel’s announce they are going down the road a little ways to the cheese store, and will stop back to pick me up.

Great, the Prosecco is flowing, and Celemente and I are dare I say happy campers.

roccat-bottleI now have The Best of Elvis on my laptop, and start to go through and see what Clemente would like to hear. I skip over ‘Hound Dog’. I then chose ‘Love Me Tender’, and suddenly Clemente is transformed, fixated on the screen displaying only the static play list.  But no matter to him, it was almost as if he half expected Evlis himself to appear from the Mac!. It was just then I looked over at him and I swear I saw a small tear in his eye.

I quickly enhance this special moment by going to You-tube and picking out a  slide show of Elvis photos. I chose a great collection of  photos, including young elvis, on stage and off. As this make shift slide show plays with the music,  I know have made another new friend.

The Mac and the internet helped transform Clement and we both spoke the same language at that moment I realized that the language of music is universal.

Below is a photo of me and the wine maker/owner of Roccat. Codello Clemente.



The Vogels return, we purchase our Prosecco, and say our fare wells, and I am welcomed to return  to visit Valdobbiadene and Roccat Winery any time.