There must be one. Of all the things that Italy does well, food tops almost every list. Certainly, it tops mine, as my ever-rounding belly suggests. Michelangelo and Rossella brought us a huge tray of figs and plums from their garden. This added to the things we got when we visited the farm stand the other day made us have a thrown together lunch on Monday of “things we have to eat”. What a wonderful feast it was. Tomatoes with mozzarella and basil, organic bread made from a local baker, figs, strawberries, pears, cheese, olive oil from a local maker. All with a great bottle of white wine and a beautiful table setting overlooking the valley. It was a very simple lunch, but everything we ate was from here. Nothing was more than 10 miles away. I’m not sure why the mozzarella here is so much better than anything we can get in the US, but it is almost a spiritual experience to eat it with a perfect tomato. It is so flavorful – not the tasteless blobs we get in the US. Taste – everything here tastes so incredible. You don’t realize how much we’ve engineered the taste out of our food in the US until you taste things here.
After lunch, we ran some errands and had happy hour on our terrace. The most serious discussion we had was what to do for dinner. I’ve been on a mission to find some Campari so I could make a Negroni. I got everything I needed, but the Campari elluded me. Everyone had just sold the last one and I was beginning to think I would have to go to the bar on the piazza to have my Negroni. Alas, we found the Campari at the grocery store. It was a huge bottle for a whopping 12 euro. At home, that size bottle is about $25. And how great is it that you can buy all your liquor in the grocery store?
We decided to go to Monterchi to one of our favorite places for dinner – La Pieve Vecchia. They have the greatest terrace overlooking Monterchi, but they weren’t serving out there. For them, it’s too cold out. For us, it was perfect. Oh well, we had a great meal inside. And Millie got to come with us. We shared an appetizer of fried porcinis and a great fennel and orange salad, Steve had sliced beef, and I had pasta – triangolo stuffed with cheese in a meat ragu sauce. A fantastic bottle of Vino Nobile and both of us had dessert. All for 70 euro. I can assure you that the wine alone would have been at least $70 in the US – if you could even find it. This meal made us cry it was so good and we lapped up every morsel. We love life so much right now it hurts.
We started our Monday with a long walk. We’ve gotten a little lazy so we really needed to jump start our engines and earn all this food we’ve been eating. One of the most wonderful things about living here is that our apartment is right in the city. But walking about five minutes in any direction takes you into the country. It’s the perfect location for straddling both worlds and it really helps to give you a peaceful frame of mind. And the exercise you need to keep eating all the wonderful food.