Tuscany

Siena (Tuscany)

11/7

We are staying in Greve for a few days so we made a side trip to Siena. Siena is another city full of history and has battled with Florence numerous times. The best part of Siena was the Duomo (Cathedral); it is just so massive and the amount of detail that went into building it is unreal. Its beautifully carved marble statues, massive paintings from the floor all the way up to the center of the ceiling, and intricate images set into the floor just blew me away.

On the drive back from Siena we stopped off in a little town called Panzano which is home to Dario the Butcher, whom you can Google and learn all about. Today his shop was closed so we will make the short trip again tomorrow to hopefully see it.

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Duomo in Siena.

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Front of the Duomo.

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Library room in cathedral.

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Tuscan estates and vineyards.

We returned to Greve in the evening to prepare for a wine tasting at Villa Vignamaggio. We also booked a tour about olive oil since the family that owns the hotel that we are staying at in Greve also produces it. Dinner tonight was at Ristorante Il Portico, the next door down from our hotel, and it was one of the better meals we’ve had on the trip so far. The service was great, as usual, the house wine was made by their family, and the olive oil was from a vineyard up the road. Here were a few of the highlights:

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Panzanella

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Grilled pear and pecorino bruschetta.

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Porchetta with potatoes.

Greve (Tuscany)

11/6

I had heard a lot about this little town, Greve, so we decided to make the trek, making a few stops along the way. The drive through the Tuscany region is very similar to the napa region of California. There are steeper hills but acres of vineyards and olive orchards; it seems that every winery also produces olive oil. San Gimignano was a stop on our list. The little town of San Gimignano was beautiful, sitting atop the hills of Tuscany. Once we got within the walls though it brought me back to where I used to work, in Vail and Aspen, Colorado. The great little town but very “touristy”; the surroundings were breathtaking but when it came down to what’s important to me- the food- I felt that it was lost and was stuck catering to tourists. In my own personal career I couldn’t do that, I strive to keep learning and to use new techniques and to bring back old, classic ones.

Our last stop for the day was Greve; the drive was breathtaking and we made a few stops at some beautiful estates to pick up some cheap wine and olive oil. Greve is not big at all, I think we saw everything that we needed to. There was a great wineshop that does tastings of everything the they have; we tasted Chianti’s, Borolos and even olive oils!

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OMG!!!!! Hanging meat!!!!

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OMG! They have cheese aging in their cellar too!!!!!! I’m in love!

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Cured meat and cheese platter with fry bread.

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Lardo foccace! So good!

Parma/Tuscany

11/5

As we set out to explore the town of Parma we realized the rain wasn’t going to let up. We walked around for a few hours and as it rained harder we stopped into a cafe where we got some coffee and devised a plan for the rest of the day. This shop also had a wide selection of pastries that looked amazing.

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After our cappuccino, we decide to head through the mountains towards Colonatta.  In the culinary world they are most known for lardo; however, the town is even more well known for its marble, which was used for the statue of David. This little town was covered in marble; from their stairs to their drive ways and their patios; you couldn’t go anywhere with our seeing it used. Even the main piazza where people park their cars was made of marble!

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Marble sculptures with the white marble mountains in the background.

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Left: salami from Parma. Right: Lardo from Colonatta.

We worked our way down the marble covered mountains and drove towards Lucca where we decided to stay the night and out of the rain.

After a drink at a local restaurant, we set out to find dinner.  After wandering for half an hour we decided to go back to where we had the drinks. The menu looked good so we were going to give it a try. By the time we got back the restaurant it was full and they were using post-it’s to make reservations, which meant a 45 minute wait for us, so we ventured out for another source of sustenance. We stumbled upon a quiet place in an alley and decided to eat there. The wine service was probably the best I have seen and the food was great. It was comfort food, nothing dazzling or over priced, but it was good.

Lucca was a great family oriented town and it almost felt like I was back home. I remembered walking down Pearl Street mall in Boulder, Colorado, with my family, looking at shops and restaurants. We didn’t spend much time in Lucca but it is a great city and I’m glad we made the stop.