Wow, Siena was fabulous.
It’s been very difficult to avoid writing about the travel experiences in order to focus just on the food. But I’ll let you in on my top sites/experiences on this trip that were not related to eating or drinking:
- Top towns: Volterra and Siena
- Top sites: Siena’s Duomo and Piazza del Campo; in Florence, Michelangelo’s David at the Galleria dell’ Accademia and Boticelli’s The Birth of Venus at the Uffizi
For those of you who care at all, I’ll be uploading the best of the best photos to Facebook once I return home. (This trip marks the first time since I got my digital camera a few years ago that I’ve completely filled the memory card!) And of course I’ll tell anyone who wants to listen more than they probably care to hear about the rest of this trip!
Nancy and I had lunch at a cafe in a charming little side street in Siena. (Our group split into smaller groups for mealtime following a fantastic tour of the city.) Pasta (I finally had pici, a pasta unique to Tuscany that’s like uneven, thick spaghetti) and a phenomenal appetizer: a delicious and artful pecorino semifreddo with poached pears and balsamic vinegar — absolutely lovely layered onto bread, and paired with the prosecco I was drinking. (It’s going to be rough adjusting to alcohol-free lunches at work next week!)
Once we returned back to Le Piazze (which I was very sad to leave this morning; it had gotten to feel like home) we had a relaxing afternoon followed by a goodbye dinner. Pappa pomodoro — which is a delicious, hearty tomato-and-bread soup — risotto with porcini mushrooms, roasted chicken with some veggies and more gelato from Antica Delizia served with wild Italian cherries.
Breakfast this morning was the typical Le Piazze spread: cheese, two kinds of Italian pork/ham, bread for toasting, croissants, cereals, fruit, delicious European yogurts and wonderful cappucino. But David (our tour manager) fixed sausage omelets especially for us. I can’t believe I neglected to mention the sausages he ordered and we all shared during Nancy’s birthday dinner in Monteriggioni. They were’t the same kind of spicy as American breakfast sausages, nor were they like any other European sausages I’ve ever had. But they were some of the best sausages I’ve ever eaten. (I know you’ve got to be getting tired of my “best ever” litany by now — but it’s all true!)
I was in Florence before lunchtime today for my final day and night on my own before flying out in the a.m. (Saturday). Lunch was a very mediocre panini, but dinner and my final dolce made up for it!
I ate outside at a little cafe on a quiet, small street that runs down one side of Santa Croce church. You know it’s going to be a good dinner when they start you off with a gratis glass of glad-you’re-here prosecco! I started with a wonderful Caesar salad. The similarity with the American version ended with the name. This one featured things like radicchio and thinly sliced fennel. My main was gnocchi with a mild, creamy and rich garlic and blue cheese sauce.
I had a final gelato at a place called Vivoli, which my guide book says has the world’s best ice cream. I must say I have to agree — it even beat Castellina’s frozen goodness. I had rice pudding (with cooked rice in it) and rich chocolate with orange (with flecks of orange zest). Unbelievably delicious. And a perfect way to end my Italian food sojourn. (I’m not planning to count tomorrow morning’s breakfast, since it’ll be a cheap hotel spread and I’m going to have to eat and run.)
This has, indeed, been the foodie trip of my lifetime … so far! Thanks for coming along with me.