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North Lazio & SouthTuscany Brahmama's Italy Report 5/2006

North Lazio & SouthTuscany Brahmama's Italy Report 5/2006

Old Jun 7th, 2006, 04:32 AM
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The fritatta was delicious! Carol, you can come cook in my kitchen anytime!
Jody
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Old Jun 7th, 2006, 09:49 AM
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Yes, the fritatta was wonderful and I agree that I did not have a bad glass of wine in Italy! And we mostly just had the house table wine.

I am really enjoying your trip report. I fell in love with Italy, like so many others, and trip reports like yours re-kindle that feeling.

More, please . . .
Linda

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Old Jun 7th, 2006, 02:24 PM
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What a great report. That fritatta sure sounds good. I'm printing it out so I can try it. Mmmm....
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Old Jun 8th, 2006, 02:03 PM
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Hello, we left town for a couple of days (kind of a shake down with our travel trailer and everything *did* go wrong)
I'm so glad you enjoyed the recipe and the trip report!
Here's another day:

Wednesday, May 10, 2006
Breakfast was toast, jam and coffee and I simmered the beans for lunch. A beautiful sunny day. At 9:30 Cecilia had told us to come for the Castle Tour. There were 10 of us and we all enjoyed the old items with such a ineresting history. She took the group clear up to the top of the tower where she gentle rang the bell. She said that when the bells were tolled loudly, it was to call the people's attention for some important announcement.

After the tour, Will and I walked around again and got some more items from Roberto as soon as he opened. Every time we got the fantastic tomatoes he threw in fresh basil. I am really missing the tomatoes. What taste. Lunch was around our table, with red wine, the wonderful bean/bread soup and luscious tomatoes dressed with just a hint of balsamic with some grated Pienza cheese.

We got back in the car and drove to Radicofani and found an interesting cemetery there. All the graves were on top of the ground and the newer graves all had pictures of the deceased in frames. Some of them had perpetual lights burning. So well kept and lovely flowers. Then we climbed up to the Rocca - the ruined fortress. Again we had a creepy feeling; it was not kept up and a feeling of desolation hung over the place, but not nearly to the extent of that little town we accidentally visited yesterday and it's unfriendly attitude up by the church that literally blew us away from there! (Theme music from Jaws)

When we left there we wanted to return a different way, so we made a half-circle and drove through Cetona (where I was to stay one time) Piazze, Sant Casciano dei bagno, and Sarteano, This Tuscan drive was beautiful and breathtaking and totally different from yesterday.

We stopped in Acquapendente for M. to use the ATM machine and I got another limone gelato. M's card sometimes worked - sometimes didn't. Our Mastercard debit card had both Sirrus and PULSE and Plus on the back and worked everywhere - at the airport and in Proceno and Sorano. I strongly suggest that you have a heart-to-heart with your banker and also try them out before you leave. You do need a 4 digit pin.

This was just a short afternoon trip and we got back in time for a 2-3 hour rest and shower before dinner. B&I dressed up a bit for dinner at the Enoteca at the Castle. It was very pretty with the glowing fire competing with the candles flickering on the tables. We joined the other 6 who were gathered around the fireplace and Cecilia treated us all with a glass of Procesco. We enjoyed the conversation of the others and all talked about our favorite Italian experiences. Then to our tables for dinner. Along with red wine, Will and I enjoyed antipasti of proschuitto and one with salami, fennel, cheese herb logs. Then we opted for the Secondi. Will had "pork of the sea" (I think it translated) which was white shreds of pork surrounded by white beans and tomatoes. Then we got the assorted desert plate - astounding! It was enough for 4, so we all shared it. She brought us complimentary lemon-cello also. The price for Will and I was 42 Euro and for B. & M was 51 Euro as they also had leek soup as a primo which B. pronounced fantastic and her favorite.

Full to the brim, we approached our stone stairs with groans and settled down for a good read before sleeping.

(This report is all food again today......I should change the title!)

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Old Jun 10th, 2006, 01:51 PM
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I just finished reading the Trip Report on "Le Marche" and enjoyed it so much it made me determined to finish mine!

So here's another day:

Thurs. 5/11/06
Up at 7:00. Will fixed coffee. M. fixed toast. My turn to do dishes. We all just pitched in. Usually one couple cooked, and the other cleaned. Sometimes we all fended for ourselves. It worked like a charm.

The sky cleared from an overcast mist, so we decided it was our day for Pienza and left about 10:00. What a lovely little city. We noticed that there were schoolchildren in many places. End of school field trip, perhaps? But they didn't stay long, in any case. So we were 4 of very few on this beautiful May day in Pienza. But remember, we are here before high season when it is crowded.

After walking through the church and the other buildings in the centrale, we stopped at a pizzeria for a sandwich and drink.

Then we started walking the streets looking for - you know - we are in Pienza! Their wonderful cheese! We went in several shops. The 2nd one we visited had a young man, minimal English, big smile and very friendly. He invited us to taste the cheese but I said , "Piu Tarde" and he waved cheerfully as we left. The prices were all about the same, but we didn't find the same quality of friendliness so we met up with our friends and went back there for our tasting. He cut us little slices of everything we were interested in. We particularly enjoyed the cheese in ash (I know that sounds odd) so bought a kilo for our kitchen. We also bought a 2 K wheel to bring home. He had honey for tasting also. B. bought a jar of millie fiori for the kitchen.

Cecilia had given us a card to a shop where we were hoping to have a wine tasting, but the man waved it off and just handed us a menu for antipasto. We picked up a little attitude and decided to move on to check out other wine shops. Not finding what we wanted, we we returned to the cheese shop to our amico (by now) and asked him for advice for wine tasting.




He quickly wrote down his friend's shop, gave us directions to a little shop on the edge of the wall with a fantastic view. I went in, and his friend did speak and understand English, as he had spent time in Australia. He was friendly and charming (and nice to look at also!) I explained that we wanted to taste 3 wines. Especially a Brunello. (I sometimes have more guts than sense, but it worked!) He suggested a biancho, a Vino Nobile and (Hurrah!) ending with a Brunello.

I joined my friends (who were waiting outside shaking their heads at my impulsive nature) and asked if they wanted to join me at a very reasonable 8 euro each (!!) At first, they all said no, they would wait for me. (snarl) Then my husband, catching my glance which I don't need to describe to you, said he would join me, and soon B. came along also. M. wasn't really interested as he was the driver, but after a while he came inside and joined us at the table.

This was a highlight on the day for me. The young man was attractive, personable and very generous with the portions. He told us all about the 3 wines, brought snacks for us to enjoy and answered our questions. He had to go off work, so he brought us his email and wished us well as we were finishing up our tastings.

We bought a bottle of Brunello and a chocolate fish for M to have with supper tonight as it was his birthday. We had emailed Cecilia about the birthday and she was going to get with us and have a surprise for him, but it never materialized. She was very busy and seemed very tired while we were there, so we understood the situation.

We drove up to Montepulciano and then toward San Querico for more wonderful pictures. Then we all began to fade, so we headed back to Proceno. About 8 we ate a light supper of toast with melted Pienza cheese, tomatoes, olives, honey, strawberries, chocolate and BRUNELLO! We decided to walk up to the bar for some after-dinner exercise.

As we were strolling along, a car drove up and we heard, "Carol?" Surprised to say the least! It was a friend that had read and researched Slow Trav before her trip. She didn't post there but had emailed me when she learned of our destination. She and her husband (S & S from North Carolina) joined us at the bar for wine and we visited a bit. It was their first day and they had driven in from Roma so they were exhausted. Since the restaurant was closed, we soon said our goodbyes and they went back to eat at Acquapendente on the way to their Agriturisimo. We will meet them Saturday for dinner here at the restaurant.

We began to realize the limitations of Proceno from 6 May through the 20th (low season) with only two places to eat in the whole town. The Castle Enoteca was open only Fri., Sat, and Sun, for 1 meal each day. The Castle Restaurant was closed until later in the season while the Restaurant/Bar at the end of the town, was open only on weekends. If we wanted to eat at any other time, we had to prepare it or get in the car and drive to it. Iím sure itís different during high season. But two weeks was a bit much!
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Old Jun 10th, 2006, 03:12 PM
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That's interesting about the lack of restaurants open in small towns in the off-season. My family and I are considering renting a villa and prefer the off-season, but probably will not want to cook all our meals (some, but not all). That is definitely something to consider.

Anyway, please continue with your report as you have the time. Your efforts are well appreciated!

Linda
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Old Jun 10th, 2006, 05:01 PM
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Carol,

I am really enjoying your report. Sounds like you had a great time.

Tom
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Old Jun 11th, 2006, 05:38 PM
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Linda,
It was fun to cook some meals in Italy, but I certainly didn't want to do it when I didn't WANT to! And truly we had such good food out - almost always in a trattoria - it would have been foolish not to try out everything new that we could. Bear in mind that Proceno is tiny tiny - 650 people. Just make sure that your dream villa is located just right - a few shops are really necessary!

Tom!
So good to know you are around and reading my Trip Report. I was reading an article in Saveur and it had a nice picture of the market in Florence and I thought about you walking through it (and your cooking!) I hope everything is going well for you and you are becoming a master chef by leaps and bounds!
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Old Jun 23rd, 2006, 05:15 AM
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Vetralla - Suzannaís Secret Garden

Friday, 5/12/06

We got up about 8:00 and had coffee and rolls for breakfast. We gathered up dirty laundry (10 Euro washed, dried and folded) and the maid came to get it. She also asked when we would be gone as she wanted to change linens, sweep, leave more firewood, etc.

We left at 10:00 on our way to Vetralla - about an hour and 1/2 south of Proceno. It was another lovely day as we drove around Lake Bolsena, seeing some campers getting ready for the weekend. We got to Vetralla about 11:20 and parked.

Mary Jane found us about noon (we were early) and took us to Peter and Linda's garden (Brit ex-Pats) where they were waiting for us with blood orange juice and cookies. What agreeable people! They took us through the old fort that had been restored into very comfortable living quarters, with a magnificent view. 10 more people joined us there about 30 minutes later for the concert and lunch.

But first, Mary Jane took us all to City Hall and then to her own lovely home where we enjoyed walking around and hearing about the history of the Palazzo.

Then we went down to the Secret Gardens of Suzanna where Fulvio was waiting in the garden with bruschettas (delicious, Fulvio!) and we met Suzanna, the hostess, and local Italians who would be entertaining us later. Suzanna was very charming and vivacious and it was nice spending time with her. We went inside for lunch and were treated to Pasta, ensalata, a very delicious veal dish, made by Fulvio (I have the recipe!). Bottles of Est! Est! Est!, water and bread were on the table as well. After an enjoyable meal and conversation, we were offered coffee in the garden. We were disappointed because the liters of olive oil that we had planned on buying from Mary Jane were not available. She only had 5 gallon tins left.

Then we went inside and gathered around the piano for the music. There was 1 pianist and 4 singers. They did selections from "The Barber of Seville", "The Tales of Hoffman", "O Sole Mio", and "Summertime, from Porgy and Bess" Then we participated in a fun sing-a-long of "O Sole Mio" and "That's Amore! - all of us trying to out-ham Deano Martin!

The other group had to leave early, so our concert came to an end and we were soon back in the car for a long drive back to the castle. We rested for a while at home and had a light supper. Mine was just cereal and strawberries.
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Old Jun 23rd, 2006, 11:11 AM
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Oh...how your trip report is making my mouth water for all things Italian!! I so enjoyed eating my way through Tuscany and Umbria.

Your descriptions bring back such wonderful memories...thank you for sharing.
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Old Jun 23rd, 2006, 01:12 PM
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And would you mind sharing Fulvio'2 veal recipe?

Linda
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Old Jun 23rd, 2006, 01:58 PM
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Enjoying your report Carol!
I'd love some insight into the weather, temperatures and what to pack for our trip at the same time next year. We have no idea of what to expect in France and Italy during April/May.
Thanks again
Rosie
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Old Jun 23rd, 2006, 04:13 PM
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Crazy4Italy,
I can't think of Italy without thinking of food! The simplest food - the simplest prepartion was always so good.....
Linda,
I will look up the recipe and post it here!
Rosie,
The word is layer....And be prepared for rain. We took a water-repellent windbreaker and umbrellas but it actually only rained on us a couple of times, and only a shower then. But April and May - expect some showers. We took sweaters to put over things and under jackets - it really works! We were right about in the middle of Italy. It will be cooler in the north and wamer in the south, of course. Have a wonderful time.
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