vignamaggio  Monna Lisa AND Leonardo da Vinci

la Gioconda di Leonardo da Vinci


Next tirne you glance at Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa, don't focus on the halfsmiling face, but notice instead the delicately painted landscape of hills, vineyards, castles, and cypress trees in the background. That's almost exactly the view you. get when you relax on the terrace outside your suite at Vignamaggio, a 400-acre wine estate in the Chianti area of Tuscany. There's no reason to be surprised: Leonardo grew up just a few miles from here.

Not only that, but Mona Lisa was born in Vignamaggio, which her family, the rich Gherardinis, called home-starting in the 14th century. "Vignarnaggio was a fairly well-known winery about 500 years ago", says corporate lawyer Gianni Nunziante, who bought the 85-room Renaissance building and surrounding hills in early 1988.

Over the past four years, he has poured a fortune into restoring Vignamaggio's lustre as one of the top flight red wines in Chianti, one of Europe's most important - and certainly most beautiful - vineyard regions. In the ancient underground cellars, Nunziante has installed new presses, stainless-steel vats, and what seems like acres of French oak barrels. The 150.000 bottles or so Nunziante produces each year are now accorded top honors in tastings.

(John Rossant , The Mona Lisa of Bed-and-Breakfast - da BusinessWeek - June 1, 1992)