Posted by: lucylastic | November 1, 2007

Tuscan dreams……..

Regular readers will know that I’ve ‘been away’.  I was initially put-out that the only booking I could get in Tuscany on dates that vaguely suited, was a Wednesday to Wednesday one, as this not only required an additional day of treasured holiday allowance, but also meant having to work for 2 days at either end of our break.  But actually, now I’m back, I’m quite grateful!  It was pleasant not to have that awful long Friday evening in the office before you go away, and not unpleasant to return today knowing that I only have to do 2 days before the weekend.  I may try it again! 

Tuscany is an incredibly popular destination for Brits and many other nationalities, but this seems an ideal time of the year to go.  Admittedly, the weather wasn’t the perfect autumnal golden glow I had hoped for – it managed it on 4 days out of seven, so I suppose I shouldn’t complain.  But Tuesday saw a very grumpy me and lovely husband trekking around Florence, (why do the Italians call it Firenze but all their other cities are the same in English) in the pouring rain.  The wetness was compounded by a number of factors a) I had a hangover – the only one of the holiday and it just got worse as the day went by, b) by 2.00pm, my feet were soaking wet and so were the bottom half of my trousers and c) the major sights at the Duomo, Accademia and so on were still full of Japanese with umbrellas and not a care for where they stuck them.  So, we retreated to a restaurant, had some fantastic soup, some mediocre veal and then went home!!!!  

Actually, food-wise, there were two high-lights of the holiday, firstly as we approached the lovely village of Monteverdi Marittimo on Day 1, we took a chance at a restaurant we spotted at the side of the road and it turned out to be a real find.  A game-orientated ‘antipasto’, including tostada with wild boar stew on top of it was delicious, and the main courses of wild boar with berries, (me) and home-made tortellini with pork and herbs (lovely husband) were delicious.  But the piece de resistance was the dessert suggested by the cheerful and ever so willing waitress – glasses of chilled Vin Santo served with almond crostini to dip into the wine and dissolve in the mouth.  Divine.  I shall be trying to recreate that one at home I think.  The other real find was in one of those restaurants so prevalent in town squares at tourist attractions – usually not a good bet, but aside from the standard menu there was a short, hand-written list of ‘pasta fresco’ which turned out to be an utter delight.  Tender, soft Gnocchi (me) in a delicate cheese sauce just blew me away – the flavours and textures were superb and the tagliatelli with a simple, but robust tomato and wild boar, (obviously we hit the season) sauce was a triumph for LH.  

My lasting memories of the holiday will be the most glorious autumn colours I have seen for a long time – forget about Japan and the East Coast of the US, the thickly wooded hillsides of Tuscany’s western coast are a joy to the eye and lift the heart just by being there.  Another lovely find were the Etruscan Tombs above Piombino – still being actively excavated, we strolled around villages that had started life before the time of Jesus and the sparkling blue Mediterranean set it off perfectly.  The Italians may be pretty manic in the cities, but in the countryside they are reminiscent of the gentle and kind Spaniards I got to know in Andalucia.  The countryside is similar – but much greener in Tuscany at this time of year.  

Part of the holiday was to see if we happened to stumble upon a perfect location for a cookery school.  In general terms, I think we need to look well within an hour’s drive of a decent airport – but the opportunities clearly exist if we are prepared to take on a major renovation project.  We did spot an old farm, nicely located, good, sturdy outbuildings, but it was a bit far off the beaten track.  The trip has only served to fuel our enthusiasm though and further enquiries will indeed be made.  Arrividerci and Caio!!!



  1. Sounds idyllic….pity it rained a couple of times.

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