A Travellerspoint blog

Cucina Toscana

making something out of nothing

sunny 29 °C

Today's big plan was to visit the Bronze Age remains being excavated on Monte Cetona, southwest of here in Tuscany, but on arrival (and after requesting directions halfway), we found that the museum and the welcome center were both closed Mondays. Not all was lost, however, as we had a great day driving around the Tuscan countryside and a phenomenal lunch.

First stop (for the aforementioned directions) was in San Casciano dei Bagni, a town centered on the healing mineral baths inside. Here's Julie and I on the main piazza, overlooking the surrounding farmland:


After finding what we were looking for but being disappointed in its closure, we dropped down the mountain from Monte Cetona to the town of Cetona, on a smaller hill below. There we found a small enoteca called Spirito Di...Vino (a play on words for "divine spirit" and "spirit of wine"), with a sign noting that they were open for lunch today. It turned out to be a great discovery, as the food was fantastic. What follows is a small selection of what we had for lunch.

Fiori di Zucca alla Parmigiana - squash blossoms stuffed with cheese, fried, and baked with tomato sauce:


Prosciutto e Melone - prosciutto and melon:


Ribollita - Tuscan vegetable soup, with zucchine, greens, cabbage, beans, potatoes, etc., served on thin toasted bread:


Creme Caramel - egg custard with orange zest:


Tiramisu - self-explanatory:


Torta di Mele - apple torte:


After all that, a great Cetonan red wine, and some coffee, we wandered back up the hill to the car, snapped a picture of Julie, and headed home to finangle our way to the correct train tickets. Tomorrow, hopefully, a safe and efficient flight.


Posted by elefantstn 07:55 Archived in Italy Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

Rough Guide to Tuscany and Umbria

sunny 26 °C

The four Millers who returned home yesterday had a brutal 26 hour long trip, marked by a five and a half hour delay at the airport in Naples and hours spent waiting through New York traffic.

Julie and I, however, have had better luck. Mrs. Toll, our former high school Latin teacher, retired to Moiano, just outside Chiusi, in Umbria, where we're spending the weekend and tomorrow in advance of our Tuesday flight home. Last night after our arrival by train here, we ate some dinner here then went for a drive to Montepulciano, a very pretty hill town across the border into Tuscany, where we walked around, admired the views, and had coffee and pastries in a cafe that looked hundreds of feet down to the countryside below. On the way back down, Julie snapped this view of the Bell-Ringer:


Today, aided by Mrs. Toll's expert advice, we toured the battlefield around nearby Lake Trasimeno, where Hannibal ensnared the Roman army in 217 BC and slaughtered 15,000 of them. From up above, it's easy to see how the Romans were trapped by the hills surrounding the lake with no escape.

At lunch we drove up to Cortona in Tuscany, where Julie posed on the steps of the piazza:


We ate lunch at an enoteca in town, where we ordered a mixed plate of salumi and cheese, consisting of prosciutto, cinghiale (wild boar) prosciutto, finochiona (fennel-seed salami), cinghiale salami, deer salami, young pecorino, old pecorino, artichoke hearts, fresh tomatoes, and toasted bread drizzled with white truffle olive oil, all washed down with a beautiful red Tuscan table wine. The establishment's proprietor gave us (between drags from her cigarette, under her 'no smoking' sign) her disdainful take on the ritzier trattorias up the street (9 euro salads! shameful) and the southern Italian olive oil (nice beaches, but they don't know oil) they allegedly pass off as Tuscan.

On the way home, a detour through some of the prettier countryside outside the Toll estate:


Tonight, Italy-France. Tomorrow, (hopefully) Gubbio and the long trip home.

Posted by elefantstn 08:45 Archived in Italy Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)


rained out

storm 23 °C

Friday we planned a trip to the acropolis at Cuma, the first Greek settlement on mainland Italy. Mother nature, however, intervened, with a torrential downpour accompanied by heavy thunder and lightning making our decision to head for home an easy one. But whereas the decision was easy, the trip itself was not -- flooding caused our Metropolitana train to abandon its trip to the center of Naples, forcing us to walk to a different train line for a short trip, then to walk the rest of the way into Garibaldi station. By the time we were back in Piano di Sorrento, however, the skies had cleared, and the temperatures had dropped precipitously to a frigid 75 degrees.


Posted by elefantstn 01:39 Archived in Italy Tagged transportation Comments (1)


three hour tour

semi-overcast 26 °C

Thursday we caught the boat around the Sorrentine peninsula down to Amalfi, a far less nerve-wracking mode of transportation than the bus ride on the harrowing Amalfi Drive. Amalfi itself is a pretty town, but very heavily touristed, to the point of being nearly an amusement park on summer days. After half an hour of wandering and some four-euro gelati, we were ready to head back home.


On our return to Sorrento, we spent some more time taking in the city while waiting for dinner time, then grabbed a prime table at Trattoria da Emilia on the Marina Grande, favorite haunt of Sophia Loren while filming Pane, Amore, e... Allison ordered what was no doubt her favorite dish, Pesce del Golfo, a selection of the freshest fish right out of the bay, fried up and served angry.


Posted by elefantstn 01:35 Archived in Italy Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)


sunny 26 °C

Wednesday saw us navigate a little maze of Italian transportation connections to head south to Paestum, one of the original Greek colonies on mainland Italy. Built about five centuries before the birth of Christ, Paestum's main attractions are its three huge Greek temples, which rival anything still standing in Greece itself.


Less famous but no less beautiful are the tomb paintings from the area, including this one of The Diver, symbolizing the plunge from this world into the next:


Posted by elefantstn 01:31 Archived in Italy Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

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