Galileo, Sun and Wine

“Galileo’s Daughter” by Dava Sobel

An elegant  book jacket drew me to this book at first as I pulled it from a bargain shelf at Half Price Books.  “A Historical Memoir of Science, Faith and Love,” proclaimed the subtitle.  How could I resist?

The book jacket explains:  “Of Galileo’s three illegitimate children the eldest best mirrored his own brilliance, industry, and sensibility, and by virtue of these qualities became his confidante.  Born Virginia in 1600, she was thirteen when Galileo placed her in a convent hear him in Florence, where she took the most appropriate name of Suor Maria Celeste.  Her loving support, which Galileo repaid in kind, proved to be her father’s greatest source of strength throughout his most productive and tumultuous years.  Her presence, through letters which Sobel has translated from their original Italian and masterfully woven into the narrative, graces her father’s life now as it did then.”

While Sobel writes of Galileo’s scientific beliefs and his clash with the Catholic church, the book primarily focuses on the relationship between a father and daughter as they share and support the struggles of their lives via letters:  the father in his very public life and the daughter in her very sheltered existence.  The reader gains insight into both worlds.

Here is a quote from the book that gives Galileo’s description of wine.

Light held together with moisture.”

Tuscany in Texas

In June Husband and I went to the Texas hill country to buy peaches from our favorite grower, Gold Orchards, and to check out some wineries.  The Gold Orchards store is basically a small roadside stand in the tiny town of Stonewall on highway 290 between Johnson City and Fredericksburg.

There are about ten wineries located on this 36-mile stretch of highway called Wine Road , but the one that caught my attention was Grape Creek Vineyards with a sign that proclaimed, “Tuscany in Texas.”   Tuscany is on my list of places to visit, but each year there seems to be some reason why we can’t take that trip to visit our friends in Tuscany at their olive farm, Podere Boggioli.   This might be as close to Italy as I would get this year.  With a little wine perhaps it really would seem like Italy!

Entrance to Grape Creek Vineyards-Photo from their web site

The entrance with its bell tower sets the mood as the gravel road leads upward between Chenin Blanc vineyard toward the Tuscany-style villa that serves as the tasting room and gift shop.  It did not disappoint.

Thinking Tuscany…not Texas

The villa did indeed reflect old world architecture with its tiled roof and beams, stonework, landscape and obligatory fountain.  Even Italian music quietly playing added to the ambiance.  As we got out of the car a limo pulled up and out tumbled several excited and well-dressed ladies.  Now that is the way to tour wineries!

Inside we browsed the wine-related items and a generous selection of crackers, cheeses and nibbles.  We missed the Barrel Tasting Cellar Tour that included a tour of the winemaking  facilities and barrel cellar.  Instead we settled for tasting six wines and chose from white, red, sweet and semi-sweet and port.  We bought three bottles:  2011 Viognier, 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon/Syrah Texas and a port.

OK, so maybe those working in the tasting room spoke with a Texas twang instead of  in Italian and I was really not in Tuscany.  Still this small yet elegant winery with a bed and breakfast is worth checking out if you are in the area.

The Crone in Faux Tuscany

Husband in Faux Tuscany

From Johnson City you see gently rolling hills, peach orchards and pass the entrance to the Lyndon B. Johnson State Park and Historic Site that is worth the stop.  The self-guided tour is free and takes you by the graves of President Johnson and Lady Bird Johnson.

At the end of the road is Fredericksburg which offers history, shopping and good food.  We had lunch at Fredericksburg Brewing Company and enjoyed sampling excellent ale.

Our last stop  Gold Orchards was to buy a half-bushel of peaches for peach cobblers.   I use a recipe from “Aunt Pearl’s Cookbook, A Man’s Cooking” by Joe Sears.  Maybe I’ll share it in another post!  Cheers!

The Road to Ricardo Brig Casarico

Recently a very fine photographer and blogger, gweaverii, mistakenly assumed a photo she had seen on my blog via Flickr on the sidebar was taken by me.  I was flattered, but  it was not mine as I have never posted pictures on Flickr and only take snapshots.  By way of making amends to the actual photographer, Ricardo Brig Casarico, I decided to research his work and post something on my blog about him even though I am sure he never knew I was briefly given credit for his stunning black and white photograph titled “Horror Road.”  It reminds me of a scene from the 1949 movie, “The Thrid Man.”

"Horror Road" by Ricardo Brig Casarico

So far this is all that I know about him:

1.  He lives in the northern part of Italy – Monzae e Brianza, Lissone.
2.  His Flickr profile is mostly in Italian.  The little in English states he is “male and taken.”
3. The photo was taken January 2, 2012 in Esino Laria, Lombardy, Italy.
4.  His photos are in both black and white as well as color and are outstanding.
5.  Two photos feature cigars – one is Cuban.

I am not a member of Flickr and don’t know my way around it very well, but you can view Casarico’s photos via the link below.  I admit that I do not have his permission to post “Horror Road,” but I hope I can be forgiven as I posted it to make amends for my blunder.

As most of you can tell from my simple blog, I am new at this and still learning.  (I have removed Flickr from my blog!)  I take a wrong road now and then, but look what I sometimes find.   Every day is a new adventure!  And lately I keep finding roads that lead me to Italy.  Is that a sign or coincidence?