A week in Sant Antonio is just not enough. I think I should ask Nico to have 2 week minimum, at least when it comes to me. Because I know we will be going back. It was so relaxing and beautiful, but somehow we manged to do so much, as well. We visited quite a few towns... our laundry list: Montepulciano, Pienza, Montalcino, Cortona, Montichielo, Montefollonico, Sinalunga, San Quirico, Bagno Vignoni, Sant' Antimo. Many were towns we had been to before on our last trip, some were new. Some favorite moments...
We saw an amazing exhibit at the Museo Civco e Diocesano. They have quite a collection of d'arte sacra (sacred art), triptychs, annunciations, crucifexes from the 1300s through the renaissance. But then they have a huge collection of modern sculpture by Giuseppe Gavazzi meandering throughout the museum and the combination is spectacular. His sculpture are mostly people, life size and some smaller.
We also tasted some Brunello in Montalcino (of course!). We tried 2 at the Enoteca la Fortezza: La Serena 200 and Argiano 1999. I preferred the 1999, but we decided not buy any because it would be just too difficult to lug around for the rest of the trip. Grappolo Blu was closed, so for lunch we ate at Ristorante Il Moro and had a very nice meal of tortellini and marinated red peppers. Later that day we also visited Sant Antimo, the abbey and it was quite lovely.
We stopped off at Bagno Vignoni and soaked our tired feet and then wandered through the town. We ran into Nico and asked when his restaurant opened for dinner. It was an hour and a half later, but we had no trouble filling the time with a leisurly walk around the town. The borage is blooming and I just love it—must put some in my garden.
Did you know that there is huge new hotel-spa right at the edge of town? We did not notice it last time, so I think it is very new. Not sure of the name, but it looks very swanky - it even has its own helicopter pad.
Ok, so dinner at Osteria de Leoni was by far the best meal of the trip (and we have had some very nice meals). One of Nico's partners, Edgar, recommended a couple dishes to me and I have to say, he did not steer me wrong. Antipasto was an absolutely amazing bit of puff pastry with melted cheese, tomatoes, and a type of sauteed green, like a Swiss Chard. My primo was the risotto with, brace yourself, lardo.
Yes, it sounds strange but the lardo was delicious. There were also some tomatoes and it was the most delectable risotto I have ever had. For dessert I had a semi freddo with a slight caramel crunch to it and surrounded by pear slices and edible flowers, as beautiful as it was delicious. I am just sorry that we waited until the end of the trip to eat there, because I fear we might have gone back every night!
We also met a very nice couple, Jo and Rob, who happened to be staying right next door and above the restaurant (lucky couple!) at a very nice looking B&B called Locanda del Loggiato. Rob is a fellow slow traveler, so hopefully he will write a review of it when he gets back.
On Friday we had a mini slow travel get together with Kim and her husband Chris and Kathy, Kelly and Charlie. It was so great to meet them all. We met at La Porta in Montichielo and had a very nice lunch on the terrace (breathtaking view).
I am so impressed by Kathy and her family taking off for a 14 month trip all over Europe. They are incredibly smart to do such a thing. They are just beginning a month in Tuscany and I will look forward to hearing about their adventures. Kim and Chris were unfortunately wrapping up their trip, but it sounded like they had a great time.
And who wouldn't in Tuscany? Just one beautiful drive through the countryside after another, one great meal after another. Oh, but then there's the driving. I think Steve was quite happy to get rid of the car. Driving in Italy is a little insane at times. The quiet roads of Tuscany are all very good and nice, but try driving into the middle of a hill town looking for parking. Some are a bit challenging. But we love it all the same and are sad to be moving on.