(click photos twice to enlarge)
Our plans for Sound Day centered on visiting the abbey at Sant’Antimo, a beautiful austere 14th century rural church where a group of French monks perform the traditional six services of Gregorian chant. John and I have brought groups before, and it’s quite magical to experience classical a cappella singing with the acoustics of an old stone church. We planned to take in the midday service, but sadly on this day the monks were performing it privately, and in the church we heard only a recording of the service. (My theory is that they were in their private quarters in boxer shorts drinking beer, glued to the World Cup championships on their flat-screen TV.) Nevertheless, it’s a peaceful place to visit with scenic backdrops for pictures.
We had lunch in nearby Montalcino, celebrated for its wines (brunello di Montalcino and rosso di Montalcino). These are wines that can get quite pricey in the States, so we got a kick out of having a bottle of delicious rosso for local prices. Jennings models a fun jacket that Michael bought recently. And his pasta course took advantage of early truffle season.
San Giovanni d’Asso is known for its truffles, and Il Chiostro arranged for us to meet a renowned local truffle hunter named Paolo, who gave us an informative presentation on how truffles are grown, cultivated, and harvested. We met Mimi and Pipo, the dogs who are trained to find truffles — they don’t look like your idea of hunting dogs, do they? And Paolo’s friend Lorenzo served us some truffle-buttered bread while we admired his tattoos. Linda’s dinner started with a plate of extra-delicious antipastos: bresaiola wrapped around field greens, a tiny cooked artichoke, pecorino nero with flecks of truffle.