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Report 1176: September Song: High Notes of a Few Precious Days in Italy

By Roz from Massachusetts, Fall 2006

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Page 7 of 16: Castelnuovo Magro: 'S Wonderful

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Ladies at Lunch on the terrace of Trattoria Armanda

Sunday morning I woke early (as usual, the first out of bed) and decided to step out on the terrace across from our bedroom to watch the beautiful sunrise over the valley. Oops! the door locked behind me, and I was getting cold out there in my nightgown! So DH didn't get to sleep in as long as he might have wished, aroused by my pounding on the door. But it was too nice a day to lie about in bed, with so much exploring to do.

After a leisurely breakfast (Letizia had left the villa wonderfully well supplied with enough provisions for several days), we visited the old town of Sarzana. There was an antique car show going on in the Piazza Matteoti, with a parade of everything from tractors to MGs.

After wandering through town and checking out the old fortress, we drove up the hills to the lovely little town of Castelnuovo Magro. In the best Italian style, we spent almost three hours lingering over a perfect Sunday lunch at the Slow Food osteria, Trattoria Armanda. We snagged a table on the terrace, with a gorgeous view down into the valley and proceeded to gorge ourselves on the incredibly delicious menu degustazione. I still can't believe we ate all this, but here it is (visually documented in my Mangia Mangia photo album).

Antipasto, consisting of:

  • Lardo di Colonnata on chestnut bread
  • Fritelle di baccalą
  • Spinach torta
  • Onion tarte
  • Crepe with mushrooms
Two pasta courses:
  • Lasagnette with funghi
  • Ravioli with borage in cream sauce
Meat course:
  • Pork tenderloins wrapped in lardo, and served with perfectly spiced red cabbage
Desserts: We each chose something different so everyone could sample among:
  • A very flaky pastry with creamy custard and assorted fresh fruits
  • Creamy rice cake
  • Zabaglione
  • Tortina al cioccolata calda: chocolate cake with a warm molten chocolate center, drizzled with pistachio sauce

After lunch Mike decided he wanted to find some Roman ruins in the nearby town of Luni. But we made the wrong destination choice on our GPS, and Emma led us up a tortuous climb in the other direction, to Ortonovo. Fortunately, almost any road you choose in this part of the world takes you to a beautiful place. It wasn't where we intended to go, but we did get some fabulous views along the way, including our first glimpses of the white marble mountains of Carrara.

Ultimately we did find our way to Luni, where we walked a good distance down to the ruins, and then discovered we should have bought our tickets about half a kilometer back up the path at the shop by the gate. We peeked through the fence, and decided we'd get to see plenty of Roman ruins later on at the Eternal City itself, so headed back to the villa.

The entertainment for the evening was watching Mike wash the canal residue out of his clothes using the Italian grape stomping technique in the bathtub. (There is a photo in my Liguria album.)

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