Trip Start Sep 07, 2010
29Trip End Sep 06, 2013
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Where I stayed
On our own before we even got to the farm house we visited Ostia Antica and Civita Di Bagnoregio. The two sites set the stage for wonderful site seeing for the rest of the week, and really gave us a chance to stretch our legs. The bridge to the dead hill town was a test to our stamina. You would marvel at the ability of the ancient occupants to provide food and water to their families
Awards go to Randy Matthiae for representing the male species in a house otherwise occupied by women. Awards go to all the women that rode in the van with Randy. Everyone had to play “ragdoll” flopping from side to side on the seats as he took each curve at maximum velocity rating for tires, van, road and occupant’s tolerance. Coping skills for the riders ranged from eyes shut to singing at the top of one’s lungs. You’ve seen that scene in The Sound of Music where all the kids come flying into Julie Andrew’s bedroom because they are frightened by the storm, and she calms nerves by breaking into song? Well it was that on a larger scale of songs and smaller scale of space.
The wine flowed from a re-used 5-liter bottle that had stored olive oil. Even the oenophile of the family – (well the one that was present) was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the beverage, despite its humble trappings. We did justice to our Montalcino visit to the enoteca as well as the “home brew’ we quaffed at most meals. While sampling the various Brunello’s we managed to down almost 200Euro worth of samples, according to our tour leader for the day
We practiced our knife skills, at least those that were still comfortable handling sharp objects, as they had not had too much sampling yet by that time in meal preparation. We stirred our sofrito’s, smashed garlic, searched for herbs, chopped rosemary/lemon peel and garlic to stir into the mascarpone cheese to be placed under the skin of the seared chicken; we watched the master knead the foccacia bread, and then dined on the results. We kneaded our own pasta dough, and then draped the lasagna noodles around anything and anyone that was stationary in the kitchen on the way to making lasagna. We polished off the tiramisu with flourish, and then added osso bucco to our list of “must tries” at home.
We shopped, and shopped, and then liked the other gal’s new bag so much, we just had to dash back to the same shop to get one just like it.
We visited museums with running commentary from tour guides, a conservator (that happened to be a close friend of Faye) and with our own resident expert - Cousin Marsha. Just a couple of us managed to reach the end of one exhibition with a small chapel adorned by body-less flying cherubs that adorned the ceiling
In Sansapolcro we were a day behind the visiting Pope. I don’t think he had any better a time than we. We visited the museum that housed the reported “most beautiful painting in the world” according to Aldous Huxley. The painting’s reputation was broad enough to save the town from WWII bombing devastation
Cortona and Montepulciano vied for the best shopping, though I think my sister Sherry probably dropped more bucks/euros at the wine shop in Montalcino. Cortona also presented a lovely Annuciazione painting by Fra Angelico. On behalf of the Italian economy – many thanks to the generosity of our guests.
For one glorious meal, we dined al fresco under the arbor beside the farm house. The breeze gently rippled the wheat in the field across the road. Little dandelions or some close relative puff ball thing-ies floated in the air giving the vista an almost dream-like quality. I was so thoroughly entranced during the meal, enjoying the view, food and company; I failed to ask Randy to document the event from my perspective. It will forever remain etched in my mind as the quintessential Tuscan lunch, unmarred by the reality of a photo to dispel or alter my mental image. Just thinking about it is enough to put a smile on my face. I think I’ve found my “happy place” that can be called upon to revive any gray moment.
To family and friends that joined us – thank-you again for making it a wonderful time. And for those of you who would like to find your own happy place in a Tuscan lunch make sure to bring a tube of lipstick and ask Faye for the Gail story.