Our dinner on Saturday (12:30 Pranso) for Roberto’s family went swimmingly. Roberto’s sisters, Roberta and Luigina, and their husbands, Paolo and Giovanni were here, along with Roberta and Paolo’s two children, Matteo (22) and Martina (19). We served Proseco in the living room while everyone gathered (Matteo came on his motorcycle) and then to table for bruschette, which was Burt’s liver pate on slightly toasted bread. The liver was from rabbits (coniglio).
The main course was roasted duck, sautéed fresh porcini mushrooms with onion, and fried potatoes, served with a nice Tuscan red wine. Following was Burt’s puntadella salad, with chicory, dressed with anchovies, garlic, lemon and olive oil. For dessert, Luigina had brought Vin Santo and biscotti; Roberta had brought a beautiful tray of sweets and this was followed by coffee.
I can speak a few words of Italian and Matteo can speak some English, but the rest was in sign language! Still, we were able to communicate reasonably well. We had so much fun that, in spite of us reminding ourselves ahead of time to take lots of pictures, we completely forgot to take even one!
The next day we continued on our Art Trail to see Piero della Francesca’s paintings. He was painting in the mid-1400s, so many of his paintings have disappeared. We drove to Monterchi to see his ‘Madonna del Parto’ which is exquisite.
We had planned to go on to Sansepolcro, Piero’s home town, but having gotten a late start and spending some time in Monterchi seeing a documentary film about Piero’s life, we decided to eat lunch and call it quits. In the outdoor trattoria they served us on lace placemats with the silverware threaded with a sprig of rosemary. They had a sign up saying that for every plate of Amatreciana ordered, they would give two euro to the victims of the earthquake. Amatreciana is the famous pasta from Amatrice; Burt enjoyed it for lunch.
The following day we made a loooong trip south to ‘take the waters.’ There are many hot springs in Tuscany—-we went to Bagno Vignoni, getting slightly lost a couple of times on the way. The drive was magical as all of Tuscany is. We got there in time for lunch, which we had on a terrace overlooking a 16th century ‘tank’ where Italians took the waters so long ago. After a pasta lunch with a wonderful Montepulciano red wine, we first bathed out feet in the running waters; then went to a hotel to swim in their pool.
Feeling fully cured of what ailed us (especially since nothing ailed us) we set out for home. When we got to the traffic circles of Arezzo, Burt readied my camera to try to photograph a weird thing that we have seen twice, which is a billboard on a truck of Donald Trump! We thought perhaps Trump was looking for the Black vote in Tuscany! We saw the truck, but the billboard had changed. From now on we’ll have the camera ready in case we see it again.
Before getting to Arezzo, we got caught in a freeway traffic jam because of an accident. We were at a stop and go crawl for about 20 minutes, and we were running low on gas! Let that be a lesson to us——keep the tank half full!
We have found some marvelous shops from which to buy cheese, pork sausage with fennel, and wine. The local wine is for sale in big vats that have hoses and displays of the cost just like a gas station! I guess you just bring in some large container and ‘fill ‘er up!’ We bought a 3 liter box of some wine made from a vineyard (Il Mausoleo) a half-km from Partina.
Wednesday Burt was cooking Lampredotto made from the stomach lining of the cow’s fourth stomach! It looks sort of like tripe.
Later we went to the Camaldoli Monastery, which is right near Partina, up in the mountains. It was started by St. Remould in the 11th century. There are now two 16th century churches on the site. We were told that currently there are nine monks living there. The guide said things had changed a lot in 1971—-they no longer have to stay within the monastery and also can eat as a group! I’m not sure if these are the Camaldoli monks or not—-maybe they were just visiting.
Yesterday we made a 1 1/4 hour trip to Sansepolcro to continue on our Art Trail of Piero della Francesca’s paintings. We saw
the wonderful ‘Madonna della Misericordia,’ and partially saw ‘The Resurrection,’ which was being restored. What a lot of effort it takes to keep these old things vital!
We keep busy cooking and eating—-we had some wonderful battered and fried zucchini squash blossoms and sage leaves.