Friday, May 12, 2006

Tuscany update, final installment

Highlights only. I'm good with the bullet points. If you want to follow along, the Flickr album has pictures of all of this, in order.

Day 5:
- bonus "we wanna stay an extra day in Firenze" day
- quick road trip to Catinari chocolate factory [mmmmmmm]
- back to the hotel, off for a walk and crap, where's my wallet? people warned me about this!
- wallet is on my bed, under the scarf I pulled out of my purse
- hub and I take a walk and never quite get where we're going, but manage to find our way out past the city wall
- for dinner, we have no reservation, but what the heck -- let's go back to Teatro del Sale and see if we can get in
- we got in! dinner was amazing, though definitely more work to get to the food in the packed room
- walking back to the hotel after the post-dinner performance [strange eastern fusion jazz band with vocalist] in the cool air, being quite happy to be alive

Day 6:
- all packed and off we go to the countryside
- driving, 10 of us in the Fiat van, along winding, twisty roads along the edge of cliffs
- acres of immaculately trimmed grapevines everywhere
- olive trees, too, just beginning to leaf
- and then the villa, atop a cliff
- owned by a world-renowned architect and interior designer
- each bedroom features linens from his company's collection [linen sheets, people. mmm.]
- a place unlike any we've ever seen before, let alone stayed in
- knitting on terrace overlooking vineyards and other estates
- we drive to an Agritourismo [b&b and restaurant and farm] where I fall in love with a 3-week old puppy i am told is "leeeeetle dogg". her name is Carolina. i would bring her home if hub would let me. she sucks on my fingers.
- wine tasting and introduction to the signature wine of the region Brunello di Montalcino and the less renowned [but more to my taste] Rosso.
- dinner with wild boar and other local deliciousnesses

Day 7:
- cooking lesson at Albergo Il Silene where we all helped Roberto -- owner and amazing chef, also very cute -- make the best chocolate non-rising souffle you can imagine
- amazing handmade pasta, insanely delicous risotto, carpaccio like buttah
- hub and i learn, to our dismay, that we really never want to taste truffle again, ever
- pitstop at Castel del Piano, home of Corsini cookies...the best cookies in the world and don't try to tell me otherwise
- another yarn shop, where they also carry bras and sewing notions. i buy yarn.
- more knitting on the terrazzo

Day 8:
- off in the van again to Bagno Vignoni, ancient roman baths
- sadly, no yarn to be found, but i knit in the van :-)
- also no bathing allowed at the roman baths.
- i somehow manage to totally miss the one spot where people can dip toes because i'm too busy knitting
- next stop, lunch at an organic farm [Podere Il Casale]. everything we ate was grown on the farm, including the olive oil, cheese and honey
- the food is plentiful and delicious. my favorite dish is the boiled-then-fried in olive oil cabbage, that reminds me SO MUCH of my grandma's [even though she was Hungarian, not Italian]. I clean the plate and leave the pasta for everyone else.
- a bottle of olive oil and a jar of honey are purchased and brought home with me
- pitstop on the way home at Pienza, a really beautiful ancient town totally overrun by tourists [much like ourselves]
- evan tells me that if i'm to buy an espresso pot, it must be bialetti
- i choose a 2 cup bialetti at the hardware store in town, and speak as much Italian as i have learned. piccolo is my favorite word today.
- home, amazing dinner at the villa, more knitting and re-learning whist

Day 9:
- Today is Siena day! I am excited!
- Siena is a really cool town laid out by ancient dudes on drugs. We are taken around in the morning by a very knowledgable tour guide who shows us amazing things and always takes the most uncrowded street [bless her]
- we finish at Il Campo [the big square that's not square] and have lunch
- i proceed to get lost turn after turn in this beautiful maze of a town that's overrun by tourists, but somehow manage to get some good artisinal gelato anyway
- i find an amazing yarn store and am so overwhelmed that i buy NOTHING, even though everything was on sale. shoot me.
- back home, and recovery knitting on the terrazzo, so i can catch my breath

Day 10:
- Last day! No!
- Today, Montalcino, the tiny town closest to the villa we're staying at
- Totally NOT overrun by tourists. Overrun, in only the best way, by locals who are sweeter than anything
- Visit to a weaving artist where several of us [not me] buy handwoven jackets and handknit sweaters
- I go to a big leather store [big for this town], choose a wallet for me [orange leather!] one for hub [appropriate black leather, but totally European in design] and a chestnut purse. Total expenditure: 58 euros.
- Hub walks the fort and takes amazing pictures
- I knit overlooking the surrounding hills
- Back to the villa
- Last run to a nearby town to find more wine. I drink Limoncello and like it and manage not to fall on the way back to the van
- Tiziana teaches us how to make pasta. Hub and I want to marry her and bring her home with us.
- Everyone helps Evan cook the most amazing pasta sauce, and Evan finishes the pastas with two different sauces. It is the most amazing meal and we're all nearly silent except for the happy moans of foody enjoyment
- Celebration of Evan's success with her Tuscany shawl!

And the next morning, a 220 euro taxi takes us from Chiusi to Roma so we can fly home. The end.

[Can we go back now?]