Each year as lenore and I prepare for Italy, it seems that the reality doesn’t kick in until we are in hour 18 or so of getting there. By that time its been long enough that our twisted muscles and lack of sleep, not to mention a real meal has rendered us spent. Our conversation turns to the reality that in a few more hours we will be in Italy, and the thought of the italian hospitality is making the any discomfort in the air transit seem insignificant.
When our connections finally land us in Milan we hear the bellowing familiar sound of our guide, “CIAO Bob and Lenore,”a sound we equate with all things Italy. We plan these trips to arrive a day or two before our guests so we may acclimate and prepare. Today we travel to Florence, an opportunity to walk the streets, hear the bells from the Duomo and sip an espresso or two, a treat we indulge in often, especially since Paola is with us. Seems she needs frequent visits to the bars in the area, espresso bars, that is!
Our welcome reception will take place this evening at the villa castle after we pick up our guests. First they will have free time to unpack and take in the enormity of the vistas from the property; get to know the mascot, Lucio, an English bulldog; and watch the silky hens that roam freely.
On the menu are chicken breast with truffle ravioli, some salad for the Americans, and tiramisu for for dessert.
Nothing like a shopping trip in Florence to make one’s day. The three of us set out late morning for a day in Florence before meeting the guests who will be gathered at a hotel to catch our bus.
But first we must have lunch. So Paola said she knows of a place where the food is like what locals eat, so that sounded like us. It was simple, and delicious.
Bob chose bacala, salt cod in tomato sauce with rice. Lenore got Tomino con verdure, grilled vegetables with melted aged soft cow’s milk cheese. Paola got one of her favorites–chicken liver pâté served warm in an earthen ware crock with crostini . We got complimentary sparkling from the owner and a glass of chianti colli florentini red wine 2011. Decadent chocolate cake split three ways completed our repast. We were now ready to shop!
Just so you don’t think we are only eating, the time after lunch was spent shopping the leather kiosks of Florence. Are three pairs of shoes too much! The thing about being in Italy is that you walk to most destinations which keeps the calories at bay. That being said let’s discuss dinner…..the wines consisted of Proseco, Strozzi Vernoccia and Tenuto la Novella reserva chianti Classico.
Antipasti of puff pastries with porcini and Torino cheese alongside ham and Brie. Fresh buffalo mozzarella, Tuscan pecorino fresco, green olive bread and what seemed to be the best bruschetta with tomatoes from the villa, fresh oregano and baby garlic, yum! Then the primi course of lemon ravioli was as stuffed with lemon zest, ricotta and a sauce of lemon juice, zest, parmigiana and reduced cream. Secondi of pan seared chicken breast with black and white truffle cream with a reduced balsamic smear, a perfect juxtaposition of acid against fat. Thankfully they included a salad of bitter greens. Finally tiramisu and espresso, dopio! No worries about sleeping after this day. Ciao!
Monday, October 20,
Morning came early since we have a long drive to Lucca today.g src=”http://evoo.biz/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/image5-230×230.jpg” alt=”” title=”Paola and Bob having wine on our arrival” width=”230″ height=”230″ class=”alignleft size-thumbnail wp-image-23554″ />