#2 Italy/Berlin, May 24, 2007

Dear Everybody,

The first thing for us to do was to visit the Bibbiena Supermarket, and also the little Partina grocery store to stock up on provisions. For breakfast we had my favorite—prociutto and melon; for lunch/dinner we baked stuffed cuttlefish. Of course we had lots of good Tuscan wine. To finish off the day we visited the Soci cemetery after dark. Small town Italian cemeteries are wonderful—all the graves are lit and most have flowers on them.

The next day we walked all over Partina, taking in the castle, the cemetery, then across the river to the park. It’s such a lovely old little village. Later Jeanne and I made anatra all’arancia (duck with orange sauce) which turned out wonderfully. It’s such a treat cooking with fresh, rather than frozen ingredients. For dessert we had the local bakery’s biscotti (the BEST) dipped in Vin Santo, a dessert wine.

We can’t get enough cooking! After visiting a convent on the edge of Partina, we spent the afternoon cooking a primi of penne and oyster fungi, then for the secondo, a loin of pork with rosemary and garlic, and really good red and yellow peppers.

The next day we visited the 12th century Poppi Castle which is only about eight km from Partina. There was a huge battle here in the 14th century in which Dante participated.






The castle has exhibits about the battle. The stables of the castle have been made into the El Casentino restaurant, a favorite place to eat. We had a lovely dinner of antipasta,

peppardele with hare sauce, ravioli with butter and sage, and tagliata with porcini mushrooms.

Bob got a bad cough so we used that as an excuse to do more cooking (and staying home). We cooked trout for lunch and then were invited to my son-in-law’s sister’s home for cena (supper).

We cooked coneglia for our Sunday dinner (domestic rabbit). It was my grandson’s First Communion today in the USA, so I called him to congratulate him.

Monday we finally did some more sight seeing, going to Arezzo. We saw the 12th-13th century Crusifix in the San Domenico church, then visited the Duomo, which is huge and imposing, and chock-full of treasures including lots of Della Robias. We saw the house where Guido Moneco lived, the man who invented the musical scale (do re mi) in the 1200’s. We had a cappuccino under Vasari’s portales on the Piazza Grande. Then on to the Pietro della Francesco murals (“The Legend of the True Cross”) from 1442-66 at the San Francisco church which are very famous. They have been nicely restored and remind one of the movie, “The English Patient” when the heroine was raised in a basket to view them. When we got home we fixed a recipe of “Meatloaf from Arezzo” which was excellent—a fitting dish for us to make and eat.

Our next excursion was to Camaldoli, which is a monastery started by (now Saint) Remualdo in the 900s. It’s way up in the mountains and is very cool, even in summertime. They have an antique pharmacy which sells products that are still made by the monks such as pine cough drops, soap, honey, and lots of other lotions. We drove up, up, up through the gorgeous woods to the Hermitage, called the Eremo in Italian. We went home to cook duck and gnocchi, along with zucchini with tomato, red peppers and onions.


We three have been playing gin rummy—our version, because we can’t remember the rules!

We drove over the beautiful Tuscan hills to

visit LaVerna, a monastery started by St. Francis of Assisi. It now has a huge church that has many items that belonged to St. Francis, such as his cloak, a bowl, his walking stick, etc.









There are also quite a few Della Robbia art works in this monastery.









Then we went a little farther to Caprese Michaelangelo, the tiny town where Michaelangelo was born. Unfortunately his house, now a museum, was closed for repairs. We did see the small church where Michaelangelo was baptized.  We planned to eat at a favorite restaurant of mine, Buca de Michaelangelo, but sadly, it was closed! So we did what we do—stopped at the supermarket and cooked our own dinner of bruschetta with porcini mushrooms, celery leaves, garlic and olive oil; pasta carbonera, and pork chops with assorted veggies—all very good!

Today we drove back to Rome and will stay overnight in the airport hotel as our flight leaves early tomorrow morning for Berlin. Par for this rental car company, we had a bit of trouble finding where to drop off the car, but finally we managed and now are ensconced in our hotel, having martinis and snacks.  In Berlin, we shall visit our friend, Wolfgang and attend his ‘round’ birthday, along with his two sons’. He turned 80, and his sons turned 40 and 50 years old.


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