Of Markets and Mazzolla

Of Markets and Mazzolla

Niamh asked me to get her a nice pastry on the way back from my walk yesterday. I succumbed and got one each for us from Pasticceria Migliorini.


The one on the left (mine) is a traditional Sicilian pastry, most of you I’m sure will have heard of: a cannolo. The shell-like one on the right with a layered pastry, is called a sfogliatella, and is more native to Campania (where Naples is) than Tuscany. Both were yum!

After brekkie, we tidied ourselves up and went to the market held in Volterra every Saturday. Usually, it’s held in both the main piazza and the cathedral square – but as restaurants have outdoor seating, coupled with the setup they had to do for a silent disco, they moved it to the main car-park beside the Roman ruins. You can buy all-sorts of knick-knacks there, from kitchen and electrical applicances to clothes, household goods and all sorts of food. We walked out with a couple of decent pillows (the ones we had were cheap and way too soft), a salt grinder, grapes and rosmarino (rosemary) and basilico (basil) plants. On the way back, we passed a lady playing a hammered dulcimer – lovely!

This is the sixth time we’ve been in Volterra, and ever since the first, I’ve been meaning to eat in a place called Trattoria Albana, located in a small hamlet about 8km from Volterra called Mazzolla.  Niamh told me that Rob Brydon and Steve Coogan shot there for their Trip to Italy series, which I didn’t know before yesterday.

We wandered to the car, and drove there. It’s not too bad a drive, just a bit wiggly when you get off the main road. We parked handily, and got out of the car. It must have been 32 or 33 celsius, and the cicadas were so loud that you had to be next to a person to understand what they were saying.

A lot of the grass is dead this time of the year, but here and there off the road, you can spot little oases, where farmhouses are surrounded by their patch of green and cypress trees.

We decided to be a little piggish and had two courses.  Niamh had a caprese salad, while I went (yet again) for a zuppa alla Volterrana – it’s the chief way I get my veggies over here!  To follow, Niamh had pici all’aglione (traditional thick noodes in a tomato and garlic sauce), and I had papardelle al cinghiale (wide noodles with a boar sauce).  Both were good, but while Niamh raved about her pasta, mine was no better than a couple of places I’d had similar back in Volterra – still tasty, mind you.  I would eat there again – as I heard their desserts are also nice – we skipped them this time around.

We toyed with the idea of going into Colle di Val d’Elsa afterwards, but figured that the shops we would like to visit would be closed for the afternoon break – a factor non-Italians often fail to take into consideration when visiting a place.  Many businesses, outside of restaurants, are often closed between 13:00 and 16:00.  Sundays are also problematic, with many functional business not opening at all.  Anyway, it was also murderously hot, so we went home, stopped off for a bit of gelato/sorbet and vegetated for a while – at one stage going for a snooze.

Niamh wanted to make a curry that evening, so I hopped out to the shops to get her some rice.  She’d gotten chicken breasts and veggies the previous day, and we packed some herbs, spices and powders we figured we’d have difficulty getting in Italy, without a trip to the larger cities.  The rice I got was vacuum-packed, and so felt like a brick, more than a pack of loose grains we’re used to back home.  Seriously, you could have bludgeoned someone to death with… rice!

We didn’t have dinner ’til quite late.  It was very tasty indeed.

We wanted to check out the silent disco, and so waited ’til a little after 22:00 to venture out for a short stroll.  We looked at the party – strictly for the young ‘uns, and passed by the Roman amphiteatre, where they were holding an award ceremony.  

I had difficulty sleeping, as we have to keep the window open for airflow purposes – there was a lot of activity near us ’til about 3 am.  The fan we bought is good, but blows a little unevenly.  We might have to look at getting a portable cooling unit, anyway – as we will have guests at some stage, and will have to start sleeping with our door closed (nobody wants to see the eldritch horrors that lie within!).

This morning, lack of sleep aside, I felt good, and took on a walk of a decent length (about 4.5km, up and down hills galore!).

No mad plans at all today, so we expect to be a little lazy! Cheers for now.

3 thoughts on “Of Markets and Mazzolla

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