Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Italy: Tutto Toscano

Now that we've settled into our vIlla apartment in Tuscany, and we've become (a bit) more comfortable driving our big Fiat around the winding roads, we've been exploring our little corner of this scenic region.

Sunday was a bit of a recovery day and we hit the road mid-afternoon. We had just enough time to explore Castellina in Chianti (where it was raining) and then Monteriggioni, where we caught some beautiful late afternoon sunshine.


Monday we hit two of the bigger towns of Tuscany: Siena and San Gimignano. The above photo shows part of the Campo in Siena. Hard to believe they cover the path around this piazza with dirt every year and race horses around it, part of the Palio di Siena. It's a crazy, fast and dangerous race that occurs just twice a year, in which ten horses and their colorfully clothed riders, each representing the different city sections, race once around the Campo... bare back!

We pulled into San Gimignano just after 4 and made our way up the long hill from the parking area to the Piazza da Cisterna, the center of this town. Dan and I came here in 1993 - did I mention that Monday was our anniversary? Back then, we knew little of this town and its towers. We were naive enough to drive right up into the town center, and then lucky enough to get a room overlooking the piazza. Today we strolled to the top of SG, the rocca, for a spectacular view of the surrounding land and some of the surviving towers (pictured above).

While in San Gimignano, we bought a precious fresh porcini mushroom. How precious? Try 35 euros a kilo, or about $23 a pound. With it, and cremini mushrooms, I made a killer mushroom risotto back at the villa, which we washed it down with some local Chianti. Ideally it would have been with a Vernaccia di San Gimignano wine, but we weren't thinking. The meal was finished off with biscotto and Vin Santo, the dessert wine of Tuscany. Another priceless day.

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