Please join Fattoria dei Barbi and winemaker Stefano Cinelli Colombini for the estate’s Panzanella Cook-Off Competition Sunday July 29 at the winery! Click here for details. The contest and tasting coincide with the estate’s celebration of the Blessed Giovanni Colombini, Stefano’s 14th-century ancestor.
It was back during the terrible years that followed the Black Plague in the mid-14th century. The countryside had been devastated and the people were at rope’s end. The Blessed Giovanni Colombini was leading a group of desperate souls from city to city, relying on others’ charity to feed them.
But there was not enough to go around and nothing left to give. And so the township of Pienza [near Montalcino] closed its gates.
The Blessed Giovanni had only a couple of bread crusts for a multitude who had already lost all hope.
With so little, there was nothing that he could do. And so he raised his eyes to the heavens and began to cry.
As his tears salted the bread, a miracle happened: A dead olive tree began producing its fruit anew. And the land suddenly turned green with a new crop of vegetables.
The Blessed Giovanni thanked the Lord and he used his bare hands to squeeze the oil from the olives. He used it to dress the bread and the vegetables. And at least for one night, he fed those in need.
It was a miracle of compassion.
In our own time, we’ve become disenchanted with stories like this one.
So just have fun with it. And enjoy some delicious panzanella, created by my ancestor Giovanni through his love for those who had nothing.
Stefano Cinelli Colombini