Tag: restaurants

Strawberry Fair at Terricciola, lunch in Casciana Terme (08/05/2022)

Strawberry Fair at Terricciola, lunch in Casciana Terme (08/05/2022)

I was true to myself and got up early for a walk around the walls. It’s such a good (and sweaty workout), as it involves a lot of inclines and declines on the 4.5km route. I’m always looking for a way to change the route up a bit and actually found one! But first, it was out the Porta Fiorentina for a clockwise path around.

About a week earlier, I had a walk outside the walls, looking for things I hadn’t seen before (or too often), and I came across the workshop of artist Nico Lopez Bruchi. Well along the walls of the town, in the south-east on Viale dei Filosofi you’ll find another of his murals. Clever and striking it is too!

There’s a section outside Volterra I hadn’t been to before. It contains the old bus station, and an emergency helicopter pad for the hospital. The Bus carpark (if that makes sense) is there too. Now that alone doesn’t make it sound very attractive, but couple Italian architecture, sculpture and the Tuscan countryside and you could have something a little special. Not sure if hiking routes begin from here, but if anyone more familiar with hiking around Volterra is reading this, please let me know!

Once done there, I carried on with the rest of the familiar route.

I stopped off at Migliorini for a mille foglie for me and a creamy rice tart for Niamh. We spruced ourselves up good, as we wanted to check out the Strawberry Festival in Terricciola, about 30 minutes drive away from us.

We headed for the carpark we used the last time we were here. Well, that was a little too optimistic! The place was jam-packed. In addition, Terricciola a town some of whose roads are narrow, but are nonetheless 2-way. We had some fun navigating our way through the town which, incidentally, also had a market on that day. We had to drive the guts of a kilometer out of town to a carpark beside a restaurant. Not the worst thing to have happened, as we didn’t miss the lovely framed views!

The roads were initially quiet as we made our way back to the town centre. It turns out that was because people were making their way towards a park where a few stalls were set up. Outside, a menu indicated what was going to be served for the communal lunch, and sure enough, there was already a huge queue for food. Rather than queue, we wandered deeper into town, past more stalls and wonderful panoramic viewpoints (see the YouTube video below). People kept streaming past us, presumably on the way to the commmunal lunch area. We didn’t see much in the way of celebration of the strawberry outside the park – just one bar was advertising strawberry produce, and a string of cardboard strawberries were to be seen nearby. What I thought was cute, was that outside many places, people had left colurfully painted chairs, with pots of flowers resting on them. I am not sure if that’s a general thing in Terricciola, or if was just done for the festival.

We took in some more panoramic viewpoints and when on the way back to see if we could join the communal lunch, stopped instead at the marketplace and bought us some sugary goods (jellies, sugared almonds, nougat). We passed by a restaurant and were tempted, but it looked busy. Unsurprisingly, the communal lunch area still had a huge queue. It might have been fun to stay anyway, but we were too hungry – so we made the counter-intuitive move of driving while hungry instead of standing while hungry. We went back to the car (the restaurant we parked next to was closed, sadly), and headed to Casciana Terme to see if we could find anywhere to eat.

We had been there before and found it quiet. So, I was thinking (forgetting it was Sunday) that perhaps it would be a good bit busier than last time. Sadly, maybe due to on-and-off drizzle, it was even quieter! We were pushing our luck for lunch, as it was a little after 14:00, but we did manage to find a place that would serve us. Yes, many Italian restaurants close between dinner and lunch services. Inside, Il Merlo Pizzorante was pleasantly busy with couples and small families noisily enjoying their food. We experienced a nice meal – I think I enjoyed it a little more than Niamh. The one thing that will stand out, though, is the service – and for strange reasons. There was a 2-person team… I’m calling them father and son, but they could be easily much older and much younger brothers. Anyway, the father greeted us and told us our menus were online. We papped the QR code and chose. We saw the younger man, with a moustache, flit from table to table in almost all cases not saying a word to anyone at the table when he delivered food. I think a family near us got some words out of him, but he was the definition of ‘taciturn’, to the point of it actually being amusing. In fairness to the main, he was efficient at his job! He delivered our drinks – standing on Niamh’s toe in the process, not a word… – barely even looked at us. By stark contrast, the father was warm and generous with his time, and we chatted with him briefly using my broken Italian. Now the food:

Would we go back? Ah yeah – the food was nice, even though there was a large choice on the menu. There was something for everyone, and I have little doubt that just about anything you try will be well-cooked. Their pizzas might be interesting. But I would also personally come for the comedy value of the curiously quiet, moustachioed server!

Once finished, we headed out to explore the town a little again. We walked past the spa – there were a handful of people frolicking around in the pool. The weather had flitted from dry to wet and back again, but eventually setted on dry and warm. It’s a nice town, but very quiet – maybe the spa is worth a visit for sure. They had bleacher seats set up in the main square, so maybe a festival is imminent. One strange thing about the town – it seems to end abrubtly in most directions. Whereas most towns trickle out – this one seems to have hard borders.

We drove back to Volterra, but by that time there were diversions active around Terriccciola as they were having a concert to help them celebrate their festival. It added about 10 minutes to our drive home, but at least we explored roads we hadn’t been on before.

Here’s a little vlog of our day up to that point:

Back in Volterra, before we returned to the apartment, I took a couple of snaps of Via Gramsci and for the first time I saw my favourite server at L’Isola del Gusto: Giorgia. She is a truly lovely and generous person (who also happens to speak 6 or 7 different languages). She also lets me practice my Italian, but I don’t delay her too much as the queues here can be long. I was in desparate need of a granita, as although it was probably 25 celsius, the day was quite humid and I had been out a long time. Unfortunately, it was not quite the season for granite, so I had to settle for a cup rammed full of lemon sorbet instead. It did the trick!

Back in the apartment we napped, screenwatched and edited some video footage. Then we did something a little piggish: headed out for more food. Just a pizza (just!) this time, with a beer, in Ombra della Sera Pizzeria. On the way there, we bumped into the builder we had been dealing with recently – he let us know that the wine bar he was entering (Enoteca Scali) was the best one in town. It’s a nice place, and we’ve been there once or twice, but dang it, he closes around 21:00-21:30, so we rarely get a chance to visit after typical Italian eating times. He has an excellent selection though.

Back to Ombra: We skipped fries this time. For me, pizza can get samey about halfway through, so I like to break it up with the occasional mouthful of fries. Anyway… we ate and drank everything up!

We rolled out of the place, and went for a nightime walk. I captured some lovely photos!

Afterwards, we sat up screenwatching for a while, then went to bed!

I hoped you enjoyed the read – please let me know what you thought!

Of Borghe and San Gimignano (16/08/2021)

Of Borghe and San Gimignano (16/08/2021)

My brother and I got up, left the trash out (bio waste and plastic/metal), and turned right to head towards the square. From there, we toddled down towards Porta San Francesco and headed down Santo Stefano and San Giusto to explore there, and check out the Balze.

Then we hit Borgo San Giusto, with its huge church.

Towards the Balze the town begins to look somewhat old again. The original Etruscan walls which once surrounded Volterra actually stretched this far north. The walls contracted in later years to make the town more manageable to defend. We’re still on a butte, so there are some wonderful views to be had along the Balze walk.

We walked back past the Balze Camping grounds, the Witches rock and Conad supermarket, and we must have gone to get pastries… why else take a photo of the 200 Docciola steps?

I shot some video of the walk, which you can see on YouTube!

Regrettably, I don’t recall much of what we did during the day, apart from upload the source videos to my laptop, so I assume it was a restful screenwatching/writing/gaming one. I can’t even remember what we had to eat. That’s a bad sign for me indeed. I am assuming it was light enough, as we wanted to take my brother to San Gimignano that night for a dinner and a bit of an explore.

Guess what mistake we made again? Yes, that’s right – we didn’t book any table. And if there was one place more difficult in the locale to get a table than Volterra, it was San Gimignano. The visit started off well. We had to park all the way back in P4, but got a spot anyway. On the way to look for a place to eat, we took a few snaps.

We tried a few restauarants along the way, including La Mangatoia, Olivieri and one a little way off the main throroughfare: Peruc√†. Sadly, we couldn’t secure a table, but had to opt (once again) for a restaurant which never fails to break my heart whenever we’re in San Gimignano. I won’t name it. It’s in a prime location, but the service is so-so and the food quite below average. Just look at Google ratings before going anywhere.

They didn’t disappoint this time either, in that they *did* disappoint. It took us ages to attract the attention of a waiter to ask if there were any free tables within, and eventually we were shown to one (thanks to the assistance of a tourist group whose Italian was better than mine). Alarm bells were immediately rung, in that although San Gimignano was reasonably busy (I’ve seen it way busier!), and there were no tables in any other place, this restaurant was half-empty. We had so-so pasta and Niamh and I a so-so steak and then we ran out of the place.

I know I like to beat up on San Jimmy as a bit of a medieval Tuscan Disneyland, but in fairness to the place it is the town that really made Niamh and I fall in love with Tuscany back in 2008. It gave me the dream of living in a Tuscan hill town. I mean, look at it!

There are two ‘best in the world’ gelaterie there. And both that night had ‘best in the world’ queues, so we skipped having gelato there, sadly, so we looked at some more pretty, and then headed home.

We missed the turn for heading back home via the most expedient route (via Castel San Gimignano), and were taken home via the much more lonely, and therefore darker, SP62. That’s the second time that happened. I was driving, so Niamh could have a drink, and I can’t say it’s the most pleasant route in the dark. I’m sure it has some spectacular sights in daylight though – I must give it a go sometime.

Thanks for reading. If you enjoyed this, please leave a like and a comment. I’d love to hear from you.

Palazzo dei Priori and the Etruscan Museum

Palazzo dei Priori and the Etruscan Museum

I needed to look pretty for my trip back to Dublin, and went to the nearby barbers for a head-shave.  Fortunately, he was standing outside with three buddies, gossiping, and was able to see me immediately.  The dude takes his time and does an awesome job, but getting it done here is at least 25% more expensive than back at home.

Anyway, when that was done and paid for, I went to the Palazzo dei Priori. ¬†It is reputed to be the oldest townhall in Tuscany, its construction beginning in 1208 and finishing in the middle of the same century. ¬†It’s still the centre of local government today.

Inside, is the main seat of government, along with large areas for exhibitions. ¬†Finally, at the top floor, there is a stairway up to the bell-tower which gives you excellent views of the town below.¬† It costs ‚ā¨6 per adult to enter.

At the time of writing this, they had exhibitions of modern sculture, and a photo-log of patients in the ex-mental hospital.

After finishing up there, I contemplated having lunch, but thought I could squeeze in a visit to the Guarnacci Etruscan museum before my belly really started to complain.

I went the shortest route, which involves a steep climb past the park, and then down some steps into Piazza XX Settembre, and then a 100m walk to the museum itself.  The museum is one of the oldest in Europe, having opened in 1761.  It is ‚ā¨8 in for an adult, and is housed in a lovely medieval palazzo.

Collections there include jewellery and other items found in very old funerary urns, a warrior’s burial tomb (along with his artefacts), hellenistic-style decorative urns, coins from the old Roman republics, statuary, and of course the omnipresent carved funerary urns.
If I had to level one criticism of the museum, it’s how prolific the urns are – there are rooms and rooms of them.  Most are carved in alabaster, and as they become newer, their carvings become more intricate and impressive – but the whole scene begins to bore a little after a while.
Note also, that most of the descriptions do not have translations – but you can get an audio guide with select descriptions for an extra ‚ā¨3.

There are some masterworks in the museum.  The first is a very creepy-looking statue called Ombra della Sera (shadow of the evening), and is of an elongated child.  It’s extremely modern-looking for something that’s well over two millenia old – this probably adds to the creep factor.  You can buy copies of it all over town.  I might get one for myself.

The second is the funerary urn top of the ‘married couple’, an exquisitely carved older couple in alabaster.  There is a school of thought that Etruscans carved people in their proper likenesses for these urns, but other scholars say that’s hogwash.

The last, and most controversial, is an early bust of (possibly) Apollo.  You may notice that written in a large font beside it is the word ‘COPIA’, meaning that this bust is a copy of the original.  The regional government in Florence saw fit to pilfer it for an Etruscan collection of their own.  So annoyed was the mayor of Volterra (at the time – there’s since been a new one) declared it the ‘second sacking of Volterra’, the first being the Medici conquest in the 1470’s.  Such language seems a little grandiose, but I totally understand it when Florence is already swimming in other cultural and historical goodies.

I met Niamh in La Mangiatoia for lunch. She had a veggie pizza, I had a burger – and a lovely one it was too – no photos of mine, I’m afraid.

Not much was done for the rest of the day, except that we went to La Sosta del Priore for sandwiches.  Niamh had their burger, while I had a fab little mix of wild boar salami, pecorino, grilled zucchini and caramelised onions.  That way you get fresh, sweet and salty one after the other.  Fab stuff.

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We did nothing else for the rest of the evening.

I got up for my last walk of this 9-week stay – we are heading home tomorrow morning.  I made it a short route, but Volterra didn’t disappoint with more fantastic cloudscapes.

We don’t have anything planned, except for packing today.  This may be the last blog, I’m afraid – but I’m toying with the idea of posting about other places I’ve been to in Tuscany, but not during this 9-week stay – there are a good number of them.

Arrivederci!

A Stroll in Siena

A Stroll in Siena

After a shortish walk yesterday, we finally got our act together and left for Siena around 10:30. ¬†What we’ve found very useful is to aim for this car park. ¬†It is about 100m away from a series of escalators that takes you straight to the heart of the old town. ¬†It’s called Parcheggio San Francesco, but it’s not labelled as such in Google Maps, for some reason.

We got there around 11:45 and assumed that we might have to queue for a parking spot, but no Рthere there 20-odd still remaining.  Off we went up the 5 or 6 sets of escalators.

The thing is, Siena is essentially a Super Hilltown – much larger than most you’ll come across – certainly the largest in Tuscany. ¬†Its medieval centre is at least twice the size of Volterra’s (except it’s population is far higher). ¬†It’s famous red-bricked buildings has given the name to a colour artists are familiar with: Burnt Siena. ¬†

Although it has fewer attractions for the ‘gotta-catchem-all’ tourist than Florence, I think it is a far more charming place, with hodge-podge streets and hidden arched alleyways, unlike Florence, which generally has wider roads and feels a little more open. ¬†Siena is also less infested with humans than Florence, which is a good thing, in my book. ¬†It’s still busy, mind you!

We started off by wending our way to the older parts, taking snaps. ¬†Note again, that we didn’t really enter any of the attractions, as we’d just been there in April this year, and had a more thorough explore last year, again in April.

Then we entered the Piazza del Campo. ¬†To me, this is the loveliest square in Italy. ¬†Oh, there are others more famous, and possibly grander (St. Peter’s Square, St. Mark’s Square, Piazza Navona), but the Campo is the warmest. ¬†It’s unusual, in that it’s in the shape of the shell, and it slopes a little. ¬†Around its centre is a border of darker tiles, upon which, twice a year, sand is placed, so horses can race around it 3 times for the honour of their¬†contrada in a race called the Palio.The contrade,¬†or districts, of which Siena has 17, are represented by their flag and animal statue. ¬†In one of the photos in the gallery below the cathedral section, you can see the statue of flag of one of them:¬†pantera (panther).

I’m loathe to give advice which impacts the business of others, but I would advise that, sure, have a drink in one of the many establishments around the piazza, but do try to look to eat elsewhere. ¬†There are a stack of restaurants off the beaten path which offer better value.

Yes, you can climb up that tower – I’ve never actually done that – will have to remedy that on another visit.

We had another explore and documented that.

We walked past the cathedral, and had to papp that too. ¬†Originally, it was designed to be larger than the one in Florence – measuring dicks was very important to city-states like Florence and Siena back in the day. ¬†In fact, you can actually see how large the building was supposed to be in one of the photos below. ¬†It is a side shot of the cathedral, with parked cars and pillars of layered marble. ¬†That entire carpark was supposed to be just one of the transepts! ¬†But two things happened: they ran out of money (being a perpetually warring city-state is expensive business) and people (during the construction, around two-thirds of Siena’s population was obliterated by the plague).

The frontage is still pretty spectacular, as you can see. ¬†There is a ticket office nearby, which enables you to purchase a ticket to visit several related attractions (the cathedral, the crypts and the ability to climb up to the roofs of the extended transepts for a great view of the city). ¬†There may be entrances to galleries you can buy there too, I can’t remember. ¬†Anyway, if it’s your first time in Siena, purchasing these tickets is a must.

We were hungry, and (apologies to those who want to see nothing but Italian food in the blog) were still on our oriental kick, so we went to New Shanghai, and took some pics on the way.

The food was ok… generally we have found that in Italy, Chinese restaurants are about on-par with average takeaways here.  Japanese restaurants are reputed to be better.

With bellies bursting, we headed back to the car, taking more snaps, and then went home.

When we got home, we headed immediately to the Cathedral square, as we suspected that it was going to open for the first time in at least 18 months – we had never been inside, as it was under restoration.  There were crowds gathered, not least priests and nuns from different orders.  I went into the baptistry to see if there was a timetable, and found one.  There was to be a procession from another church to the cathedral with the bust of St. Linus.  It said 17:00, but we were unsure if that was departure or arrival time.  We decided to was departure, and so went to a bar to get a drink and wait.

Upon arriving back, we were disappointed to see that we’d missed the actual opening of the doors.  There were people here and there in medieval finery and wearing uniforms of office.  There was to be a mass held, so we thought we’d pop in for a look, and maybe we’d stay through to the blessing of the new altar.  But the place just filled up, and began to get uncomfortably warm.  On top of that, we’d just come from Siena, and so were ill-equipped to go without bio-breaks (I think I put that as delicately as I possibly could!).  So, we decided to head out, somewhat embarrassingly, against the influx of officials and more medieval folk.

We had an icecream instead at L’Incontro!  We’ll go back today or tomorrow to have a proper explore of the cathedral, but I got a couple of shots.  The roof, as gorgeous as it is, somehow reminds me of Windows 3.1 wallpaper!   Anyone else old enough to remember those patterns?

There were additional pennants hung up for the occasion, and also (presumably coincidentally) new (and strange) art installations in the main square.

We did nothing else for the day, except screenwatch, and vainly throw socks at trolling, roof-bound mosquitos.

I got up and had took a short walk through the gloom this morning.  There was some islands amidst lakes of cloud, and I’m sure I could have gotten some amazing shots with a decent camera and an optical zoom lens.

Our furniture still hasn’t arrived yet, so we’re giving them one further half-day to contact our representative, or this afternoon we’ll travel directly to the store in Navacchio to shout at the store manager a while.  We’d obviously rather not have to do this: the drive is dull, and neither of us like confrontation, but it’s been 8 weeks since we ordered the damn stuff!

A Grand Lunch at Del Duca

A Grand Lunch at Del Duca

A short one today. I didn’t get up to much beyond writing and eating. During our cookery course a couple of days ago, we booked a table in the restaurant the instructor’s family owns. We toddled up there at around 13:00, and we sat in their lovely terrace at the back.

They were having a busy service, and as we had all the time in the world, we were prepared to wait without any fuss. We got our wine (‘Marcampo’, 50/50 merlot/sangiovese), and a nice little bruschettini with finely diced tomato on top. I usually shy away from ‘obvious’ tomatoes, but gave this a bash – it was lovely. I’d had it before, when we visited last time.

We ordered, and while the food was slow to come, we didn’t mind – we had time, and the staff who knew us, also knew we had time! ¬†They brought out their restaurant-baked breads for us to nibble on while we waited.

The starters came.  The ladies had salads (Niamh the Caprese, our guest a salad with crispy bacon and cheese).  I had a carbonara with grated black truffle, which was excellent!

Myself and Niamh swapped main courses when compared to the last time we ate here: this time she had the beef cheek, and I the fish.  Our guest also had the fish.  I really liked it, but I think I preferred the beef.

Between courses, we engaged in conversation with the mamma and the daughter (our cooking instructor), who are both lovely, welcoming people.

Pigs that we are, we also had a dessert! ¬†I had what I had last time – twirled 70% chocolate mousse – Niamh had a coffee mousse with cherry sorbet, and our guest had a fruit plate. ¬†I loved mine, and had a taste of Niamh’s mousse, which was amazing. ¬†I don’t do the fruit thing, but I was told it was nice.

When finished, we were given a selection of petit fours, and a glass of extremely potent limoncello. ¬†The latter is made by the matriarch of the family, and uses lemons straight from the Amalfi coast. ¬†It was nice, a little thick – and easily the most buckling limoncello I’ve ever had!

We paid the bill, and there were hugs exchanged, and afterwards had every intention of going to the pinacoteca (art gallery), but changed our minds on the way. ¬†The ladies stayed out and about for a walk, while I went back to the apartment for a bit of a snooze and some screen-watching. ¬†I took this little curiousity on the way there – I don’t know what it is… an accident, or a weird art installation, but the colours contrast wonderfully.

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Nothing done again last night, and this morning I didn’t go out for a walk (again!). ¬†We had to get up at 04:30 to bring our guest back to the airport. ¬†We went straight to bed when we got home, and to be honest, I’m still a little tired.

Don’t think we have plans today, but there are rumblings about us attempting to go to Florence tomorrow morning, so fingers crossed!

Lari and the Pasta Factory

Lari and the Pasta Factory

We have two guests with us for a short while, so we decided to take them to Lari. We had been there before, but the Martelli pasta factory tours were closed in August (when many Italians go on holiday). We wandered up to the carpark, only to see that they’d strung some brollies over Gramsci. Tonight is Volterra’s culture night (La Notte Rossa), where there are a ton of acts playing around the city, and many of the major attractions are open for free from 21:00 to 24:00. Why do they call it The Red Night? They light up the city with red lamps – like they do near Christmas. It will be a late night, but I’m looking forward to it. Below is a pic of one of our favourite restaurateurs, from La Terre di Mezzo – getting ready for the festivities.

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We went to Lari by way of La Sterza, and Terriciola.  Why Google Maps changed our route to take is through Terriciola, rather than go around it is a mystery.  We were rewarded with a different set of sights this time around, as we were driven through village after village, past vineyards and olive groves.  It was pretty cool… except maybe for the driver, who insisted we travel a different route going home!  The roads were quite narrow in parts and can’t have been fun to navigate.

We parked near the old town, with about a 250m walk uphill to the archway which leads into the main area.  It was a warm day, and the climb was understandably a little draining.  There was an organised tour group ahead of us, but we only had to wait about 15 minutes for the next opening.  This afforded us a mooch around the town for a bit, including a trip to a jewellers who could only give us a price for an 18-carat bracelet after he’d weighed it.  I’d never seen that before!  When the price was given, we excused ourselves and left.

A large group of people had gathered from Ireland (including a pair of people other than ourselves), Germany, the US, the Netherlands and Switzerland to go in.  The tour was only about 15 minutes long, but you got to go into the areas where pasta (specifically spaghetti here – the rest of the pastas are made in the castle in the middle of the town) is dried and cut – and you were given a small sample of pre-cut pasta.  Martelli pasta is cut with bronze dies, which give it a very rough texture.  As the pasta is only made from durum wheat and water, there isn’t a flavour difference, but the sauce sticks beautifully to the pasta in the pan during the final stages of cooking.

The dude that came out to deliver the tour (in English) was dressed in video-game racial stereotype overalls, but he knew his stuff and was friendly.  The main area was really warm… maybe 35-36 celsius, and I wondered how hot it could get in August-heat!

Afterwards, we had a lunch with Martelli pasta.  We had done so before in the same restaurant, but the only new dish was the one I got – maccheroni with a tuscan ragu.

Our guests were a little tired, so we forewent trips to other towns, and headed home – capturing some lovely scenery on the way.  We had an obligatory stop at the ‘O’ on the road just past Volterra, on the way to Siena.

Apologies… you can see reflections in some of the photos.  On the way back to apartment, we grabbed some gelati, because we could!  We pretty much stayed in for the rest of the day, except when I nipped out to grab a little shopping, and Niamh went out to get takeaway pizza for herself and the other ladies.  

I’ve ceased being a fan of pizza at night (acid stomach), and instead got something even more trashy, but strangely nice for a change – a fishburger.  The fish was flaky inside the rough crumb, so it wasn’t the worst thing at all – I might try the burger in the same place (Attutapizza) some other time.

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Afterwards, we watched Wine Country on Netflix, which was mis-labelled as a comedy.  Ah, I’m being unfair – it wasn’t a bad flick (although I left about 10 mins before the end).  The Napa Valley looks a bit like Tuscany, so that was a plus – and the characters in it were amiable enough.

Anyhoo, this morning I got up earlier than usual, and compounded by the fact that it is later in the year, the town was a little darker than usual.  I found a new part of the route (well… Niamh had gone that way before me), which made the walk a little more interesting.  I also captured a wide shot of Volterra’s buildings I’d never been able to capture before.  It almost looks like another town from that angle.

The guests are having a mooch about town today, so I will use some of this day to put a hole in my writing project. ¬†I hope to stay out much of the night to capture as much as I can on La Notte Rossa too, so I’m really looking forward to that!

We are bringing one of the guests to the airport tomorrow mid-morning, but I hope to have a blog up before we go tomorrow.

Cheerio!

Holiday day! Eating out.

Peak laziness was achieved yesterday after my walk! We hung around the house and then, with a bit of a hunger on us, walked the long way around to get lunch. We went from our house to the Porta San Francesco, and followed the walls clockwise, past the Roman amphitheatre back to the Porta Fiorentina, which is actually the closest gate to us! Nothing wrong with getting a second walk in, I suppose.

On the way, we took a look inside Chiesa di San Lino, as we’d never been in it before. Whenever I enter an Italian church, the first thing I do is look up!

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It took us a while to reach the restaurant, Osteria La Pace, who have wonderful home-made pastas. ¬†Their menu isn’t huge, but that which you can concentrate on is often wonderful. ¬†I had Caserecce di Cinta e Funghi (a pasta variety with pork and mushrooms), and Niamh the Pici al Cianghiale (thick noodles with wild boar). ¬†The pasta that came out on my plate looked nothing like caserecce, but more like thick pappardelle (the pic on the left below), which is ok as it’s one of my fave pastas. While mine was tasty, the food jealousy was very real after tasting Niamh’s (the middle photo). ¬†It’s one of the best plates of pasta in Volterra. ¬†We both finished the meal with an amazing tiramis√Ļ. ¬†On the way back to the apartment, we booked a table for our evening meal – always be thinking ahead!

In the afternoon we rested a while (it was pushing 30 to 31 degrees out), I wrote a few more hundred words of my novel and toasted myself for a short while out on the terrace.

We then went out to have a look at a small flea market and stopped off at La Mangiatoia for a couple of Moretti each. 

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After another laze-about, we got ready for our meal and wound our way down Via Gramsci towards the restaurant.  On our way, I paused a moment to snap a lady demonstrating the art of alabaster carving.IMG_3624

Sometimes it’s the food that keeps you coming back to your favourite places, and sometimes it’s the welcome. In the case of La Taverna della Terra di Mezzo it’s both! Roberto and Aurora always welcome us back enthusiastically, and serve us some wonderful dishes. A free snifter of grappa (a strong spirit distilled from the left-overs of wine making) to finish the meal off helps a little there! It has a strong, almost woody, flavour, but hits you a bit like vodka.

I had the Zuppa alla Volterrana and Niamh some Bruschette to start. Niamh then had Penne Arrabbiata (literally, angry penne!), which was quite hot with chili. I had a steak on the bone with oven-baked spuds. Then we had tiramis√Ļ again, but instead of it being made with coffee, it was made with limoncello and was almost as lovely as the one we’d had earlier.

We rolled ourselves out of our chairs and strolled towards the Roman amphitheatre, as there was a performance of Faust there that night.  We got one of the cheap ‘seats’ (looking on with no charge from the walls above!).  It was all in Italian, and we understood little of it – the sound wasn’t bad, but it didn’t carry fully up to where we were.  At one stage, Mephisopheles appears, and it was done so well – completely unseen, then appeared with clever lighting.  Unfortunately, I missed a photo of that.  I have photos below, but they’re poor – I must invest in a decent camera one of these days!

We only stayed for 15-20 minutes before heading back to the apartment.

This morning, I felt a smidge hung-over, and there were denser clouds in the sky.  The air felt thick in my lungs, and I knew a strenuous workout was to be avoided, so I just walked about town and papped anything purty I saw.  

I didn’t sleep so well last night, and so I’m still a bit wrecked – back to bed for a while! A presto!