Bona Sforza of Italy was chosen to be the wife of Sigismund I of Poland some 5 or 6 centuries ago, thus merging two of the world’s most amazing cuisines, in my humble opinion. My heritage may be Polish, but I think the gene for the love of good food is at least half-Italian. And so I share some of my favorite food from this holiday with you.
Bologna, “The Fat,” I’ll save for a later discussion. The task of putting pen to paper over my love affair with food and eating can not be undertaken lightly.
We read that the sun made an appearance in Vienna this week! People streamed out of their homes and into the streets, pointing their pale faces toward the golden orb in the sky, ever hopeful for a chance to squint at the sun. Though we are not home, we, too, were once more pointing our pale faces toward the sun from atop two of Tuscany’s favorite hill towns, Volterra and San Gimignano.
The sun retreated behind the gray and snowy skies of Vienna again, perhaps not to be seen now until April. And so, especially for our Viennese friends, we graciously share several photos of another warm and sunny Italian day. You’re welcome.
Although not perfectly picturesque due to the smoke from Tuscan farmers burning olive branches, the scenery still begs to be absorbed by the senses.
Narrow passageways invite exploration.
The vines are ordered much differently than in Austria.
Not a tour bus in sight. I squealed.
Cletus meets Cinghiale.
No bridges in the city on which to hang a love padlock, but the gate across the old city well makes a fine stand-in.
Lucca is a pleasant walled city. The children rented bicycles and rode the ramparts around the city while Tony and I strolled the ancient cobblestone streets with Clayton Theodore, savoring the warm sun on our faces in our private passaggieta.
But first. Yes, the wood stove was indeed the only heat source for the villa (surprisingly, this feature was not mentioned in the “amenities” portion of the rental listing.) Fireplaces are charming in early fall or late spring, but I was duly concerned with its ability to keep me warm in mid-winter. By morning the fire had faded, the villa was chilly and I was just a little grumpy about being on a Survivor: Tuscany in Winter holiday. All of my First World Whines disappeared, though, when I turned Clayton Theodore into the garden and saw the Apennines in the morning light.
No travel mishaps en route save for 1) thinking we had driven through Slovenia based on a sign we’d read and the subsequent panic over not having one of their grossly expensive highway vignettes (we hadn’t); and 2) the strange occurrence of the rear passenger car door refusing to open after a rest area pause, causing poor Anna Grace to have to climb into her seat from the driver’s side.
In good time (and daylight) we reached our rental villa. The owner of the house was most pleasant and gracious, providing not only a bottle of wine but a jar of homemade pasta sauce for us to enjoy, and a blanket, bowl of fresh water, and a snack for Clayton Theodore. A most appreciated welcome after a long drive.
The owner of the villa had also started a welcoming fire in the living room. As she took us through the house to explain the ins and outs, and especially the need to keep the fire going, it occurred to me to ask, “Is this the only heat for the house?”