#2 Italy, June 8, 2017

#2 Italy, June 8, 2017

Dear Everybody,

What a nice day we had in Anghiari, a wonderful medieval town, practically unchanged from those times. We walked on the walls and all over the town, admiring Tuscan views and the beautiful buildings. We capped it off with pranso, (main meal at 12:30). We shared three courses—-you’ll see why—here’s the ‘starter,’ meant to be for one person!

The primi was pappardelle (pasta) with venison sauce; the secondo was sformato di selvaggina, a ‘custard’ with pheasant, two kinds of partridge and wood pigeon in it topped with shavings of black truffle! The drive over and back was challenging, going over the mountains on skinny roads, but I think I’ve got my Italian driving mojo back now.

Saturday was Burt’s birthday. First thing was to open his daughter, Caddy’s birthday card. She knew he would be lonesome for his little dog, Anthony!

We did errands, then walked over to Roberta’s house to greet the family. We invited them for pranso for next Sunday. It looks like we’ll be 10 at table—-Roberta’s family plus Mateo’s girlfriend and her mother, and Luigina and Giovanni. Burt is busy planning the menu.

Of course Burt made his own birthday dinner—-lots of things including breaded lamb chops with lemon.

Sunday we drove over the mountains to Caprese Michelangelo, the town where Michelangelo was born in 1475 (the name of the town was just Caprese until Michelangelo became famous). We visited his house and the castle before joining many other diners at the Buca di Michelangelo Restaurant for a 12-course pranso to celebrate Burt’s day-after birthday. The menu; (well there wasn’t any printed menu, but here is what we were served—-from 1:00 to 4:00 PM:)

Red Wine from Umbria, Still and Sparkling Water
Melon with Prosciutto and Tuscan Salami
Salad of Cabbage/Pine Nuts/Onion
Four Bruschette—Liver Pate, Tomato, Cream Cheese/Anchovies and Porcini/Melted Cheese
Acquacotta (Dry Soup with Leftover Bread and Many Veggies)
Crespelle (Pasta Crepe with Cheese, Pureed Potatoes/Bechamel)
Ravioli (Spinach and Ricotta Filling; Sauce with Mushrooms and Tomatoes)
Bistecchine in Taglia (Beef Tenderloin Strips) and Green Salad
Batter-Fried Mushrooms
Roast Meats—Lamb, Pork, Chicken and Pigeon with Oven Fried Potatoes
Semifreddo di Ricotta (light desert)
Cordials: Grappa, Lemoncello, Fernet Branca

Our table:








And Our View:









The Beef Tenderloin with Salad, and the Roast Meats:


We drove to Poppi and took the bus to
Florence on Tuesday. That is a most beautiful bus ride over the ‘spina’ (spine) of the mountains, although this day was cloudy—-it even rained a bit while we were in Florence.

We spent most of our time in the Mercato Centrale, which is the ‘new’ market, built in 1872. We bought three ‘meats,’ a prepared rabbit roast, some cinghiale (wild boar), and a Florentine Steak to make on the grill. Burt carried an insulated picnic box with frozen bottles of water in it, which kept our meat cool until we got home about 5:00 PM.

The main event was eating lunch there. One of the specialties is lampredotto, (the dark part in the picture) which is made from the lining of a cow’s 4th stomach (not the 1st—-that’s tripe (the white part), not the 2nd or the 3rd!). We wanted to try their sandwiches as Burt wanted to compare them with what he had been cooking at home for a couple of days. This is a very old, traditional working-man’s lunch in Florence.

We bought our sandwiches, with a glass of red wine from the Nerbone kiosk that has been there since 1872. Yes, it was delicious—-and Burt’s lampredotto compared well with this expert’s.






Our Arezzo trip on Wednesday was a repeat of things we’ve done in the past, but love to do

We saw the 15th C. murals by Piero della Francesca in the San Francisco Church, which are stunning. Here you see the meeting of the Queen of Sheba and King Solomon.

There are many other very old murals, or fragments of them, in this church. “Pentecost” is a 14th C. mural by Spinello Arentino.



Afterwards we saw a special movie made with sterioptic pictures (3D) from the 1890s. They were about the ‘Grand Tour’ made by wealthy people at the time. Interestingly, I had seen most of the cities/places on my back-packing trips!

Lunchtime found us under the portales overlooking the main Piazza, designed by Georgio Vasari in the 16th C. Burt had ‘chest’ of veal, sweetbreads and beans; I had grilled vegetables and some bites of his——I’ve been eating too much for lunch lately so I’m not hungry for Burt’s wonderful dinner meals, so I’m trying to correct that.

Dinner that night was the rolled roast of rabbit that we bought at the Mercato Centrale. When we bought it, the lady selling it kept saying (in Italian) “40 minutes.” I asked if we were to come back in 40 minutes—-would she be making another roast for us??? We traded this stuff a few times until I finally figured out she was saying to roast it for no more than 40 minutes! Burt roasted it for 40 minutes, and made carrots and batter-fried porcini mushrooms to go with it——um, good!

In the meantime, we’re preparing for our party on Sunday, which will be pranso with Roberto’s family. We’ve got a very long shopping list for today, and Burt will cook up a storm on Saturday and Sunday.

Thursday night we grilled a big Florentine streak, which we enjoyed with grilled radicchio and salad, with a good Nobile Montepulciano wine. 

Hope you’re all fine—-we’re really enjoying Italy and its perfect weather.

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