Southern Tuscany – cooking classes and lots of new friends…
On our way from San Gimiginano we headed directly across to Arezzo to see an antique fair that is on the first week-end of each month. You all know our love for anything ‘old’ including each other. So off we went. Stopped at a few more villages on the way, but found Arezzo easily and arrived about lunchtime. It was stinking hot and met this lovely little girl called ‘Fly’ because she runs off as soon as she can when off the lead. Was very cute. For the past few years have been buying Dad a plumbob whenever I see them as he is the hardest person to buy for. So one man can not have too many plumbobs it seems. He enjoys polishing them up and wondering where they have been in their previous life. This one is pretty scary with little studs sticking out the sides, but he will enjoy it. The little man told me it was very old so guess I have to believe him.
We wandered around and found a military museum and it had all of these little metal birds all over the floor. There were all exactly the same and facing the same direction pretty much.
It was incredible, but because all the information was in Italian, have no idea what they were for or why they were there. Guess we will never know.
We had lunch at an amazing bar/restaurant place and watched a young girl make the most amazing bruschetta’s and light lunches on this little counter. She was slicing the great mound of proscuitto you can see on the bench with the finest knife blade – about 1mm thick I think and you could see through the pieces of meat she was carving. She had done it once or twice before we figured. Was delicious…
You have to admire the Italians, I am sure none of them ever die of a heart attack. They are just so relaxed. We have heard on the odd occasion, a table of tourists disgruntled at the amount of time it takes for their meals to be ready. But we have never worried. I guess small children make it tricky but we just say ‘no rusha’. Alby’s idea of Italian is to add an ‘a’ on the end of everything and he thinks he is then Italian. It is very funny at times when we all get started – he will give you a demonstration when we are home I am sure.
From Arezzo, we took a few wrong turns, as we usually do and ended up eventually in Radicofani which is down the bottom of Tuscany and extremely different landscape to anywhere else we have seen. If you can imagine the photo below on a grand scale. It was incredible. So dry and dusty and the bugs were amazing. Like the desert in Oz sometimes with little flying midgy things, Dad’s tit-borers, biting flies, big yellow wasps and the odd mozz. You know what I am like with mozz. So couldn’t wait to get the OFF stuff on and then life was reasonably OK.
In years gone by there was apparently alot of mining, of what we couldn’t find out, but it has left some hefty scars. Also quite high up so alot of snow we are thinking and hence not alot of vegitation.
There were also thermal springs here. They are dotted thoughout Tuscany and alot of people seek them out. The ones near here at Bagni Filippo were sulphur springs. The white bit is sulphur which the water has run over at some stage and left the deposits behind. Quite amazing really but that rotten egg smell of sulphur was everywhere and the water temp was about 38-39 degrees, so more like a bath than a swim. There were lots of folks swimming.
We happened to arrive on the day of another local festival which was interesting. We were all stared at like we were purple for most of it. But a couple from Germany took us under their wing and showed us around and sorted out some food for us. Spaghetti with tomatoe sauce and cold roast pork. Weird combo but nice.
Then the next day we went back for the market stalls and ended up having a shiat-su massage which was very nice. We both smelt of musty insense and a bit feral afterwards but it was lovely. After it I took my ‘newly released liver’ home for a very long nap.
This is the famous tree at
‘La Sevella’ in Radicofani. This is where you eat all the meals you order or want and where all the socialising takes place. It is the coolest place and the best place for wifi so most folks find themselves here at some stage.
We met lots of really beautiful people here and had lots of good times.
The most fun was the cooking class for Alby and I with Asa (pronounced Orsa) and Benhd. They were a lovely couple who have a patchwork family they call it and had just got married the week before in Sweden. They live in Brussells and are diplomats for Germany and Sweden in immigration, so very interesting to chat to and cook with.
Ella was very happy to play with their kids mostly in the pool. There was Sam at 6, Jacob 8 and of course the best, Julius at 17. She spent quite a lot of time with Julius who has a very broad English accent although he can speak several languages and is very bright. All great kids. We baby sat them and cooked them dinner while Julius and Ella prepared dinner for Asa and Benhd for a two hour honeymoon which was very sweet.
Back to the cooking class – Our menu was: Shaved eggplant wrapped around mozzarella cheese and basil cooked in a tomato sauce. Stuffed guinea fowl with apples and onions. Fresh pasta with a beef, pork and turkey sauce. Panacotta. Yoghurt and olive oil cake which they serve for breakfast that is to die for.
Alby cut his fresh pasta into Pappadella sized pieces but it was delicious. I thought pasta was the hardest thing on earth to make, but it is so simple and tastes nothing like the stuff you buy in the supermarkets. Cooks in less than a minute as well. Can’t wait to do it at home.
The stuffed guinea fowl was to die for as well. Asa and I did a dance with the fowls before they were stuffed and Marina said, no else had ever done that before. Funny about that.
Another huge family was from Hungary. There were a couple with 7 children ranging from 2 to 18 and another one on the way. They were great parents and the kids were all really well behaved and georgeous – long curly hair on most of the girls (6 of them girls) and baby on the way also a girl. The dads mum is their resident grandma, Eva and lives with them and looks after the kids while the parents are Lawyers and economists. Then the mums brother and his girlfriend and her parents too were there. 14 of them in total plus the big family dog – he was Alvis and a long haired kind of black dog. They almost would have to do a roll call before they went anywhere, but everyone was happy and all were great people.
The other beautiful friends were Lela La Sevella – a long haired jack russell looking thing that was allowed many more privilges than any of the other pets. She was lovely – came to say hello every day at meal times and hoped to catch some tit bits and did.
Then there was Elbah below a beautiful big dog that would play with Lela La Sevella and it was so cute. Everyone who stayed just about had a pooch and the more amazing thing is that they all got on ok.
A couple of times Elbah and Alvis sized each other up and someone just yelled something in Italian at Elbah and he stopped in his tracks. Amazing really.
This little pooch above so very cute and Austrian and nice. Jenny was her name.
This (on the right) was ‘stuck up’ we called her. She was as snotty or as strange as her owner. He owner was tall and thin and clipped around in high heals and strange outfits and so did the pooch.
There were also three huge geese that came to say hello at breakfast time, nine cats and some chooks. Then three new guinea pigs arrived while we were there. Alby asked the husband what was going in the pen and he went ‘oink oink’ so Alby presumed little pigs and they were, ‘guinea pigs’.
He was very entertaining one morning at breakfast. There is a few pots of herbs and things outside the back door to the kitchen. There are quite a few big yellow wasps that hang around but don’t really bite. But they must have annoyed Marina’s husband so he came out with a blow torch and bursts of flames singhed the wasps and obviously killed them. We were all be a bit dopey at breakfast and everyone found it hilarious – at one point he went inside and Asa thought he would come out with a machine gun sized blow torch. So was very funny to see and he kept a straight face as well. They can be a bit weird the italians. Every day he also brought home some new bits of machinery or junky stuff to decorate the huge paved area.
There are these great big green bottles here which I love and which would be great around the pool. They are about 60 cm high and as wide – But getting them home would be a bit tricky.
om here we explored lots of great villages.