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Ciao - Giorno Tre

Onward to Radda in Chianti

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Day Three: during our morning briefing we learn about salutations in Italy.

* Ciao as most people know means both hello and goodbye but it is typically reserved for people you know.

* Buon Giorno, on the other hand, is good day / good morning and it can be used to greet strangers as well as friends.

* The seldom used Buon Pomeriggio means good afternoon and is appropriate anytime between noon and early evening.

* Afterwards it's time for Buona Sera (good evening) and finally Buona Notte when one says good night.

Our hike today takes us from Gaiole on towards Radda where we will spend the night. We cheated along the way and took the support van for part of the hike. Interestingly, while waiting for the rest of the group we met the owner of Søllerød Kro, a Michelin Restaurant in Copenhagen, who was biking with his wife. He shared photos of some of their restaurant's specialties. We promised to visit on August 10, 2024 when we'll be back in Copenhagen.


At lunch we met Fabrizio for a Balsamic Vinegar Tasting (ummm delicious) and a demonstration of the making of Panzanella (a Tuscan summer salad that includes soaked stale bread, sweet onion, tomatoes and basil). A perfect picnic with wine, shade, great food and fellow-hikers.


Once again, we opted to take the shuttle to our next hotel and avoid the glaring heat of the afternoon. We were staying at a beautifully refurbished palace - Palazzo Leopoldo. A shower, a quick nap and good to go again for our dinner at the Casa di Chanti Classico. There we watched a cooking demonstration of Lasagna (mine is better – haha). We sampled the wine and had a great dinner of Pork and Roasted Potatoes.


Once back at the hotel we enjoyed a relaxing time in the cool evening air chatting with our fellow hiker Fran. One of 13 children, retired from the military and very fun to be with. She has a great sense of humor and we really enjoyed her company throughout the hike.


Posted by Where2FromHere 14:39 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

The 13th of June - day two of our Tuscany Hike

Psst ... It's my Birthday!

We begin with a great European breakfast. Breads/rolls/croissants with butter, pancetta, and cheese. blood orange juice, coffee, and a wide variety of fruits. We eat out on the patio with the views of the valley below and all the blooming flowers – what could be a better way to start this day?


We have the route talk, and the word of the day is “PREGO” – we learn that it not only means “you’re welcome” but it can mean “please, come this way” as if a waiter is taking you to your table, or “don’t mention it”. Also, a shopkeeper might say “Prego” as in “How can I help you”? So today, we find ourselves using PREGO all day long!

At the route talk we also learn that the walk early on today (after coffee in Panzano) will be pretty much uphill with a few shady spots – 4.7 miles with an elevation climb of 450 feet. At home this is nothing – but at home we don’t start a hike at 11:30AM on a blazing hot day. It’s either early or nothing!


On the shuttle ride to Panzano, we learned the story about the famous black Rooster, as it goes: Siena and Florence were constantly fighting over land boundaries. So, they agreed to use their roosters, to start a horse race from their respective areas at the first light of day when the birds would awaken and sound the alarm. The distance of the rider would determine which land would belong to each other. The Siena citizens had a strong healthy, white bird which they fed a lot; while the Florentines starved their black rooster in order to have him wake up earlier in search of food. As expected, the black rooster cawed well before time so that rider had a head start and as a result conquered much of the Chianti territory for Florence, compared to the Siena rider whose bird was quite lethargic with its full stomach and didn’t even think of waking early.


I believe Jeff managed to take 230 photos while hiking. This vistas were incredible with the fields of grape vines, the huge mansions, the rolling hills with mountains in the distance, and an old cemetery. We reached the city of Panzano where we could enjoy a cold beverage and a nice break from the sun. And from there we took advantage of the support van to get us to the winery of Stephan Farino where we would have a tour and then enjoy our lunch.


After our fill of wine, pomodoro, bread and sitting, we opted once again to take the shuttle back to our hotel - That pool was just too inviting and there was a gin and tonic calling my name. The one we had was quite unique made with a local Tuscany type gin and a Rhubarb tonic. Just what the doctor ordered (along with a dip in the pool).

Tonight was a pizza making lesson. Lots of fun and really great tasting wood-fired pizza of multiple varieties. And of course, a surprise birthday cake. After dinner we relaxed in the garden enjoying the cool night air. Great way to celebrate adding another year (at least its in the one's column and not the tens).


Posted by Where2FromHere 17:04 Archived in Italy Tagged black rooster panzana Comments (0)

Nobody cooks like the Nonnas

There's nothing like a cooking class with the Italian grammas!

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After our invigorating swim in the "icy" pool (actually just cool but by comparison to the air it was frigid :}, we dressed and left for "Tutti a Tavola" - I believe it translates to All at the Table. What you would call a total Hands-On cooking experience with the four Italian grammas.


We were greeted to their lovely vineyard with glasses of Prosecco and an amazing appetizer we will definitely be recreating at home. (Crunchy breadstick wrapped with a ultra-fine piece of pancetta and dipped in a combination of turbinado sugar with chili powder.) Trust me, it was hard to resist having more than my fair share.


It was somewhat like watching a comedy routine with Julia Childs. Amongst lots of laughter we learned a few tricks about making gelato and chicken fricassee.



We ate our evening meal with the local wine surrounded by flowers, vineyards with tiny grapes just beginning to appear on the vine, some outstanding views and the home of the owner of the vineyard. Bellisima! (Very Beautiful!)



Posted by Where2FromHere 07:51 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

It's not the Destination it's the Journey

Pienza to Arezzo to Castellina in Chianti, Italy

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We left the La Bandita Townhouse where we had a fabulous stay. Such great attention to detail, helpful staff and great food. If you're ever in the area - this is the place to stay!! At 6:45 AM we hauled our suitcases back down the brick ramp to await our taxi, since apparently the only cars allowed to drive down the main road in town are the Mercedes that take the brides to the church.


Our taxi took us on forty minute ride to Chiusi where we were to catch our morning ride to Arezzo. It was a little challenging determining which platform, but we made it and boarded the train in time. (Dan Prailes if you're reading this you'll be pleased to know we were not assigned a specific car and we had only three (rolling) suitcases, two backpacks and our hiking poles.)


It was a short ride up to Arezzo where we were to meet out hiking group. We had just enough time to have some breakfast and a cup of some of that delicious Italian coffee before heading outside where we gathered with the others to start our week together. We boarded the shuttle bus that would take us to Catellina in Chianti. One thing we learned very soon was that the Italians really don't have air conditioning. We were cramped in a crowded bus with 13 people and very little air in a hot crowded space. Not a good first impression.

We arrived at a fortified Hamlet with great views and welcome fresh air. There we got the plan for the day from our guide Lorenzo. Don't let that flat line on his chalkboard fool you. There may have only been a 492 ft. elevation gain but coming from the high (cool) elevation of 7300 ft. in USA to HOT, sunny, humid Italy (which was having their August weather in June, unfortunately), made it a little challenging to be hiking.
After gathering a few snacks. the journey began.



I know we were older than the rest of the group but we usually have an advantage of more oxygenated blood ... but in this case it didn't make a difference. Hot is Hot. One thing we learned on our Inca Trail hike is that its not just about covering mileage, it's about enjoying the sites as well. One thing for sure Tuscany is unique and beautiful!


If you know anything about me you know I love yellow flowers and they were in abundance along with roses, poppies and all other varieties of floral treats along the way.


Fortunately, part way through the hike we stopped at an old farmhouse turned villa for a lesson an tasting about Virgin Olive oil. We were so soaked with sweat that I felt like we'd taken a bath before we entered the cool "cave".


One thing about getting older .. you know when to call it quits without doing something you don't want to due to peer pressure or trying to impress somebody. So after a delicious lunch (in the shade) we opted to take the shuttle onward to our home for the next two nights - the charming Il Borgo di Vescine. Upon arrival we found our room, changed into our suits and IMMEDIATELY headed for the pool.




Posted by Where2FromHere 13:45 Archived in Italy Tagged train tuscany oil olive Comments (0)

A day in the Life of Pienza

Fountains, Flowers, Fabulous Vista .. oh and of course, Food!

After a long 'winters' nap .. or it least it seemed so. Having traveled for three days we slept in this AM 'til 11 AM Italy time or 2 AM Wyoming time.
Then we headed out to see this fascinating city of Pienza.
Most times a picture says it all - So here you have it...

So that's about it for today. Food (Tagliatelle with Morel Mushrooms), Fun (Pinocchio), Flowers (everywhere).. among the everyday life of wash, mail, and a Saturday wedding at the church in the ancient city of Pienza. Fabulous first full day in Tuscany :)

Posted by Where2FromHere 15:38 Archived in Italy Comments (1)

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