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Report 834: There's No Such Thing as Too Much...Pasta and Ceramics

By Palma from California, Fall 2005

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Page 4 of 23: Wednesday, September 7: Pisa/Castellina in Chianti

photo by Palma Hansen

Chianti vineyard

We packed, and already our luggage feels heavier. After breakfast and a few sprinkles, we left the lovely staff at Locanda d’ Elisa and drove to Pisa for an obligatory half hour photo stop at the leaning tower. I tried to keep it a “drive by”, as I was anxious to get to Chianti.

It sprinkled off and on until we stopped for a bathroom/cigarette break in Poggibonsi at a bakery with heavenly lemon filled sfolliatelle. We drove 13K farther and stopped in the charming, tiny picturebook town of San Donato. We enjoyed our lunch at La Toppa where after a glass of Prosecco, we sampled four different pastas: Jan tried tagliatelle with porcini, Les had parpadelle with duck sauce, Brad had ravioli in a cream sauce with truffles and I had pici with my first cinghiale sauce of the trip. They were all wonderful.

After lunch and a walk through town, the sun came out and we drove to our next hotel, Tenuta di Ricavo, a charming, rustic, 14th century “village” run by the Lobrando family. We had a beamed living room, a bedroom with three large windows overlooking the Chianti hills and a modern tiled bath. Jan and Les were next door in an upgraded room with a huge fireplace and an outside deck. We had a welcome glass of wine with Signore Lobrando who is a real character, sort of like an Italian version of “Tevya” from Fiddler on the Roof.

We went into town (Castellina in Chianti) with Jan and strolled down the main street, doing a little shopping. I bought some taralli, some striped manicotti shells, five photographs, a large book of photography of the Chianti region, and a large photo of Saint Antimo with poppies blooming.

We came back to the room for a nice nap before returning to Castellina for dinner at Le Tre Porta. I had proscuitto with melon and spaghetti with garlic, chili peppers, olive oil and pecorino. My mouth was on fire, but it was delicious and I cleaned my plate. I went outside to smoke and was able to watch the parade of children, families, and a marching band in their tribute to the Virgin Mary. They all carried lit paper lanterns.

We returned to Ricavo and Brad and I sat up with coffee and grappa and talked to Lobrando until midnight.

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