In a matter of moments (ok, not exactly moments...), we will once again be boarding that big flying tin can and zooming off to Italy.
I gotta say, this never gets old. And I mean NEVER. As long as we can pull this off, we plan to Just Do It, as the expression goes.
As time ticks down to takeoff, I get so excited, I just can't help but dig into my photos from the past visit. I didn't post near as much as I had hoped to, so if I don't write now, it's just going to slip away…so many great experiences, so little time to share.
So….get ready for an onslaught, dear readers…
Our one overnight getaway this last trip was to San Gimignano, in Tuscany. We had been there in 2004 with my Mom & Dad, but only for a few hours. It was lovely, and we've always wanted to return to really explore this popular hill town.
I booked a room for a stay early in the trip, in March, hoping it wouldn't be too crowded. It wasn't. It was just right. There were plenty of day trippers, but once they left, the town was really quiet.
The trip there wasn't bad at all, and the time was spent drooling over the gorgeous landscape out the windows of the car. We took the slow way…always a good bet.
Once we found our hotel and parked the car for the duration, we headed out to explore.
While driving, we had noticed some clouds in the distance, which became not so distant as we got into town. It made for some high drama photos…..
|Late morning…Scary clouds!|
Our hotel is just there, behind the umbrellas.
Great color contrast, though…
As many of you know, I am a big old scary cat when it comes to thunder and lightening. I've been working on this, but jeez…there is nothing like big loud thunder going off in these hill towns. It just amplifies the hell out of it all!
We figured it was a fine time indeed to scout out somewhere for lunch.
|We ducked in just as the skies opened and all hell broke loose.|
Where's my wine?!?
|Thank you so much.|
All kidding aside, Vernaccia di San Gimignano is a favorite of mine.
This was a good one.
Lunch was at Quattro Gatti, a small osteria we came upon just in time. The menu looked interesting, so we went for it.
I hadn't done much (read none) research on where to eat, so we were really up for whatever looked good.
After ordering wine to calm my thunder-rattled nerves, we ordered a few tasty dishes to share.
|Always…we order the mixed bruschetta antipasto, vegetarian.|
This was so-so...
|I had a weather appropriate risotto with saffron.|
|Johnny chose pici pasta con cacio-pepe.|
This is made with a creamy cows milk cheese and lots of black pepper in the sauce.
|We each had a salad to end the meal...|
|Oh, wait- this espresso ended the meal!|
Not the best lunch we've had, but it was ok, and we really enjoyed the service. The place was full of Italians, many seemed like regulars, so this is good.
After lunch, we headed out to find a gallery that we had read about before coming. It was exhibiting a major installation work and paintings by Daniel Buren. Johnny and I wrote about it in our gallery blog, which you should check into. It was sensational.
After the gallery visit, it was time to just stroll, sit and sip wine, and enjoy the views from the town walls….
|The storm came and went…just like that.|
|On the outskirts of town….|
I love this.
|Some of the remaining towers San Gimignano is so famous for.|
We had a very minimal 'dinner' that night, as we had eaten lunch later in the day and just weren't that hungry. We picked up a few tasty treats from a local alimentari, and just snacked a bit. Between the treats we bought and the goodies that always accompany glasses of wine at any bar, we were good.
Next morning we were up and out early to do more wandering. Johnny wanted to visit the local museum, which we did, and I wanted to climb another terrifying tower. I had already conquered one, earlier that month…Why not go for the gold?
We killed some time, since nothing had opened yet, by taking a rather extreme hike way the hell down, down, down the hill to see these Medieval wash houses.
It was a great idea, just a super steep hike down, which meant up, too…
I was really glad we did it, though…the wash houses, where townspeople did their laundry, were quite stunning...
|So hard to imagine what it must have taken to construct these.|
|The reflective nature of the clear water was stunning.|
There are several large goldfish swimming through, too.
|It was a perfect spot to see on what was a very warm morning.|
We were the only ones there, of course.
Man, this is turning into a really long post…I'm enjoying writing it…I hope you are enjoying reading it…
So, I was ready and willing to tackle another tower. What better place than the town of towers? Plus, it was a crisp and super clear day, so I just knew the views were going to be fantastic.
First though, the climb up, Girly.
|Looking down the stairwell from about 2/3 the way up.|
It wasn't bad at all, really. Only at the very top, when it got really narrow and you had these tiny stairs and such. It seems that you always have to sort of squeeze up through that last opening, and hang on for dear life because the bloody stairs become almost non existent.
But, hey…if it was easy, there would be no glory, right?
I am a Super Woman.
Where's my wine?
Some gratuitous mega-view shots…...
From here on out, if there's a tower, I'm climbing up it, baby!
Fear of heights be damned!!
Ok. This astounding feat of bravery and all around moxie deserved a reward. Figuring we weren't going to receive a gold key to the city, we decided a nice dinner would be in order.
I had spotted this sweet trattoria earlier, and the place seemed right up our alley, so we figured out where it was again, and luckily got a table.
This trattoria is so tiny!
|Seriously. SIX tables. Kitchen is to the right.|
This place has the best vibe…the owners are there, making you feel as though you are in their home. This is stated often in reviews, but not by me. This is the real deal.
The gentleman in the photo above, on the left and fuzzy, is the main guy. He is also the only waiter. I'm pretty sure there was no menu, he just told us what was available. His English was good enough, my Italian was good enough... Being vegetarian was no problem. We made our choices, sat back and had one of the best meals ever.
|Wow…my hair was so short …..I need a cut.|
We both had appetites, so we went for it.
|A selection of local cheeses served with local honey, house made fig preserves,|
grilled polenta spears and good breads…
I think Johnny actually passed out for a second from excitement.
|My starter was a pea and leek soup to die for.|
That's all I'm saying.
Well, that…and this: Why is it so bad to lick your plate in public?
Can we come to our senses, people? GET OVER IT!
That's all I'm saying.
So…after the humiliating plate licking incident, we sat back to take in the wonderful ambiance of this magical little bit of heaven.
Since there are only a few tables, the owner can actually chat with everyone, and it was clear that he knew most of the clients that evening. It was cool to sip our house wine (great) and enjoy the scene.
I was totally kidding about actually licking the plate, btw…not that I didn't want to.
Then came our pasta...
|Johnny had this pasta, a house made tagliatella with a sauce|
of "the perfume of the forest", which included wild mushrooms.
It was very good. And forest-y.
|I know this looks fairly unappetizing, but it was delicious.|
One big raviolo, stuffed with winter squash and smothered in a creamy leek sauce.
I was on a bit of a leek kick.
|A fuzzy shot, but you get the idea…the sweetness of the squash with that|
luxuriously rich leek sauce…oh, it was perfect.
Dessert? Why yes, thank you...
|Vin Santo and cantucci for Mr.|
|Apple torta for Mrs.|
Thanks, San Gimignano, you were so good on so many levels, and I have a feeling we'll be heading your way next year….
|A truly beautiful hill town….|
Trattoria Chiribiri….You should go.