Lovely Company, Delicious Food and A Perfect Location.
It was very difficult to get up on Monday morning and go to work after such a lovely and relaxing (and much too short) weekend away with Australian friends in the Tuscan countryside.
We were very fortunate that my friend of many years from Melbourne, Bernadette decided to celebrate her birthday by renting a villa and inviting her friends to share the festivities with her. We left Florence Saturday afternoon and headed to the Villa Cortone near Poppi. We had basic directions and felt pretty confident that we would find the house with no problem at all.
We drove across the Consuma Pass so of course timed the drive perfectly so that we could stop at my favourite place, Chalet il Valico for the famous schiacciata filled with warm funghi porcini. I was very tempted by a freshly made ricotta tart and so also had to indulge in a slice for dessert – for the baby of course!
After we left the chalet, we continued on the road to the villa. We noticed quite a few rally cars passing and when we turned into the road that we wanted to follow, noticed the fork to the left actually closed for the rally so we took the right side, hoping that it was still going to take us in the right direction. We were overtaken by a few of the rally drivers and Emiliano suggested that maybe we were on a road that was closed to normal traffic. I scoffed at this, saying that of course the road was open to us as there was no actual road block that we had passed! A few hundred meters further down the road, I realized that I had spoken a bit too soon as we came to a sudden stop at one of the official time check-points where I noted we were in quite a good position if we had of actually been competing! We had one car in front of us, two revving their engines behind us and the clock was ticking away the seconds as we waited embarrassingly to be told that we would have to turn around. We proceeded to do an 8-point turn in the very narrow road – I’m sure much to the amusement of all the local spectators – and headed back up the hill. To our horror, we were then met head-on by all the other competitors speeding down the road to make the check-point in as quick a time as possible. It was so nerve-wracking having these crazy drivers heading straight for us as they hugged the curves and weaved all over the road. A few bad words did escape both mine and Emiliano’s mouth before we finally made it back to the main road and continued peacefully on to the villa.
Villa Cortone is not easy to find! Luckily Bern had advised that the house was to be found just before the very small town of Borgo all Collina and to look out for the large swimming pool as, if it wasn’t for these instructions, we never would have found the place. The house is very impressive and manages to sleep many people very comfortably. Each room has it’s own bathroom which is also very convenient.
It was so lovely to see Bern again and also to meet some of her friends from home and of course to converse in my native Aussie slang over a lovely drink as we watched the sun set.
That night we had an absolutely wonderful meal cooked for us by the lovely Fiamma and Ginny from Kitchen Chez Nous. These two girls will travel anywhere in Tuscany to give you a private cooking lesson showing you how to prepare regional Italian meals and specialties. If you don’t care for the lesson, they are only to happy to personalise and cater for any dinner or event you have in mind.
Our menu for the evening was :
- Coccoli (fried pizza dough balls – divine!) with Prosciutto & Stracchino cheese
- Rigatoni with the most wonderful tomato sauce & fresh basil
- Stuffed Zucchini Flowers, grilled tomatoes dusted with breadcrumbs & herbs and salad
And for Dessert, the most delicious-melt-in-your-mouth ………
- Panna Cotta served with fresh berries.
Needless to say, we all crashed that night with very satisfied tummies! Fiamma & Ginny returned a few nights later to give a cooking lesson to Bernadette & co where they learnt how to make fried zucchini flowers and fresh made pasta which I hear was a great night! Wish I could have been there instead of stuck in the office!
We were woken up quite early the next morning by the morning song-birds and their young. The sun was shining and combined with the view and the fresh air, I couldn’t think of a better location in which to eat my breakfast. We then spent the rest of the day by the impressively large pool gossiping and soaking up the sun.
Now I’m back at work, back to reality and very busy studying for my Italian driver’s license while we are also learning so much about the procedures for buying a house here (and of course the Italian beauracracy) with the settlement date now postponed from the 13th to the 26th July.
August should prove to be a very interesting month considering I will start my maternity leave on the 5th. Can’t believe I am a few days away from being eight months pregnant!