Once again I am in my beloved Partina, the town in which my son-in-law grew up and where he has a house. This time I brought along my new partner, Burt. We met at a St. Paul Chamber Orchestra concert last September and discovered that we had many things in common, including traveling. He is also a demon cook, so Tuscany is the right place to bring him!
We arrived on the new direct flight that Delta has from Minneapolis to Rome, rented a car and drove to Partina. Getting settled in the house seems so familiar to me now.
The next day we discovered it was the Farmer’s market day in Soci, the town that is 2 km from Partina. The big problem is not to buy everything that looks good! We did buy three wonderful cheeses, from which we were offered a taste before deciding. We also bought fresh squash blossoms, and some chicory for puntadella salad.
As usual, we also go to Soci each morning to have a cappuccino, a corneto, and to use the wifi at the coffee bar.
Then we had to hurry back to Partina to buy their wonderful prosciutto, Tuscan salami, and some staples. They close from 1:00 until 5:00 every day, as they always have! When it was time to make dinner that night we discovered (senior moment) we were missing a number of items. We swung back downtown to the store, (luckily they had opened again) and there they were. Burt had collected things on a table and we had forgotten to bring them to the cashier. They knew we’d be back!
Then a run to the Coop supermarket in Bibbiena to get rabbit, chicken and lamb. Burt (also a wine expert) carefully chose some wine and also bought some Campari. We had Orvieto wine with our lamb chop dinner, a town that we hope to visit later in our trip.
Saturday we visited with Roberto’s family for a bit and invited them to dinner for next Saturday. Another thing we bought at the market in Soci was a clump of sage to plant in the back yard. My grandsons, who visited Partina for three weeks just before we got here had planted rosemary (at my request) so I have been watering those. There are also fresh figs in the back yard, and beautiful plums.
Our first trip for sightseeing was to Arezzo, a small city about 45 minutes away by car. Yes, things change. We wanted to see the very famous Piero della Francesca murals, but they now only allow 25 people in to see them per half hour, and the next ticket we could get was much later. So we made a reservation for 10:00 AM for another day and visited another church and museum instead. We had lunch under the portales designed by Georgio Vasari in the 16th century. We each had gnocchi——mine with meat sauce and Burt’s with squash blossoms.
The following day we explored Bibbiena, a small town but with lovely things to see. We also visited their Farmer’s market on Sunday. Of course I have seen the special things in churches, etc. many times, but it is always fun to show them to someone that hasn’t seen them before. Years ago the 12th century statue of the Madonna and Child in San Ippolito church had been robbed of the child. I see it has been replaced or maybe it was recovered. Anyway, it’s beautiful. There was a group of students getting a talk by the priest in the church.
Our day came to see the Arezzo murals, which was a fun experience and worth going back for. Claire and Roberto’s first date in 1993 was to go to see these murals; I bought some
prints of them and framed them for over the davenport in this house.
This time, for lunch, Burt had tripe and I had Foi Gras under the portales. On the way home we saw a billboard truck (a truck for just that purpose) displaying a huge picture of Donald Trump. We went past it too quickly to see what they were saying—-how odd!
Early Thursday morning, as you all know by now, Italy suffered a horrible earthquake about 100 miles from here in Amatrice. All of the medieval part of the town was leveled, including two churches from the 12th and 13th centuries. So far the death toll is at about 250 but they think it will be higher. How awful! Interestingly Burt knew about a famous pasta from that town called Amatriciana, made with hog jowls and bucatini.
Yesterday we visited the nearby convent of Santa Maria del Sasso. Really only the cemetery was open, but that is quite interesting. We finished the day with dinner at Il Casentino, a restaurant on the grounds of 12th century Poppi Castle.
In the meantime, we’re doing all our little domestic things like washing clothes and drying them on a rack in the backyard, making ice cubes in little plastic trays (Italians don’t use ice cubes!) etc. It is soooooo good to be here again!