While touring Tuscany, I was excited to come across the original “sword in the stone” located in Montesiepi. In 1185, the Pope ordered a chapel built around the miracle. The story, as well as the amazing food and wine I tasted on my trip (most of which hasn’t changed in centuries), were inspiring. The result was The Proof, a time-split novel set between the twelfth century and today.
The story begins with starving artist, Gabe Dolcini, who can’t sell his paintings to pay his bills. His only option is to grasp his grandfather’s offer to come show his work in Italy. But Gabe has never met his grandfather. In fact, his family has refused to speak of the man except to say his insanity got his wife killed. I chose to use food and wine to showcase the emotional moment when Gabe and his grandfather, Count Louis Dolcini meet for the first time:
Louis raised his glass. “I bottled this Brunello from my vineyard in Montalcino the year you were born. I swore I would drink it with you when you were old enough.” He smiled, partially concealing a pained grimace. “It waited in my cellar perhaps longer than I planned but let us taste it and see what we think.” Gabe smiled at his grandfather as they tasted the wine together. Year thirty-four proved to be a magical number for the celebratory bottle. “Magnifico,” his grandfather whispered. He gazed at Gabe. “It was worth the wait.”
They enjoy a plate of prosciutto, green olives and pecorino cheese, a salty sheep cheese I have grown to love, and later feast on savory risotto and pork stew. A dish I didn’t eat but included in the book was Louis’ favorite, wild boar. Of course, the staple wherever we went was espresso served strong and black. I received a few raised eyebrows when I doused mine with cream and sugar.
Over dinner, Louis reveals their family destiny to safeguard a sacred religious artifact called Il Testimento, the Testament, or the Proof, an object said to bestow courage and faith. Some believe it brings power. Exciting intrigue ensues as they battle a zealous religious group willing to kill for the object, as well as a brutal group that is trying to destroy it. The reader travels to various sites and meals around Tuscany as our hero (in current time) and his Templar ancestor (in the twelfth century) strive to outwit their enemies.
I tried to capture the historical mood prevalent in Tuscany, including their food and hospitality. I hope you have a chance to enjoy this story and its mystery.
Thanks for stopping by to share your food for thought, Cheryl!
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