Cooking--the reason I come to Italy. We are lucky enough to have Laura as our chef again this year, but thankfully for the shorter Italian course. Cooking from only 3 pm until 7:30 feels like a real vacation. Sunday, we cook beautiful ravioli, chicken thighs wrapped in pancetta, and tiramisu. Yum! Plus, we cook the beef for Monday's lunch. On Monday, we cook a fabulous rolled turkey (that Jamie and I make under Laura's tutelage, without a recipe), as well as pici noodles. We are all having so much fun on our teams, it's hard to believe we only met two days ago.
We were also happy to meet Heather, another guest who has a car and is as game to explore the area in the mornings as we are. So, on Monday, we venture to Montalpuciano, on dirt roads, and around hairpin turns (thankfully she is driving). We climb up the equivalent of 38 flights of stairs to our reward--a copper smith who creates art. Bellisimo! How will I get all the treasures back to Chicago?
9 September 2017
We have arrived at Bellorcia! While Florence is lovely, we have eagerly anticipated moving to the "country" portion of the trip and our time cooking with the lovely Laura Giusti. After loading ourselves up for the train trip and a near disaster of almost leaving my backpack on a high-speed trip to Rome (with Eileen exhibiting superwoman strength holding the train doors open while I ran back on to fetch it), we meet our driver and are transported to paradise. The Val d'Orcia area of Tuscany can hardly be described, but our view from every window (even the bathroom) is incredibly lovely. Our cooking companions for the week include Antonio and Linda (from Spain, he French, she British), as well as a family of two sisters (Joanne and Janet) and daughters (Lindsay and Jamie) from Canada, and Heather from Ohio. We are welcomed with a dinner of bistecca Florentine, along with the usual aperitifs, wines, and post-dinner digestifs. Hello, big mama--I've missed you! Ah, it's good to be home!
6 September 2017
We have returned! Welcomed back by the lovely staff of the Rivoli and the merchants of Florence like family; like family, we each have our own unique perspective. Martha and Eileen are the queens of shopping, and while I am not immune to the lure of leather (both shoes and purses), I am saving (most of) my Euro for wine. While waiting for Martha to arrive, Eileen and I take a quick day trip via train to Lucca, a beautiful little "city of 100 churches" about an hour away from Florence. It's lovely, with a wide promenade wall as its featured site. Italy in September is beautiful--less crowded and not quite as hot. We are reunited with the third of our trio that night, and spend a joyful day shopping and wandering. So many shoes and purses! I am determined to buy only what I can carry to the train on Saturday for our journey to Tuscookany and villa Bellorcia, but will come to potentially regret that choice later on as I try to keep track of my belongings. Arrevaderci, Firenze!