It is an absolutely perfect Sunday morning in Figline. We had the morning free until time to go to Claudio's this afternoon and a few classmates went into Firenze. I chose to sleep in so I missed breakfast in the hotel. I walked down to the piazza
in search of brunch and found delicious pastries and capuccino. I really think I am in Heaven! I love the piazza! I love that everyone seems to just hang out together there. There were about twenty old men with tables pushed together talking, smoking, and playing cards. There were folks with their kids everywhere. Things were being set up for the jousting tonight at the fair. I'm excited about that! I want to live somewhere with a piazza!
Breakfast in Heaven looks very much like this:
You get it here:
When I got back to the hotel I found my classmates in the pool with a jug of wine.
SO good! And organic!
My own sort of Under The Tuscan Sun moment (not a lady bug but I think it's prettier):
Grappa, grappa everywhere...
I don't have the recipes yet but I will share this when I do. It is zucchini layered with a creamy sauce and cheese. To. Die. For.
I don't know what to call this. I'll edit later when I have recipes. It was good!
My new desktop background:
We made ice cream from one of those delicious cantaloupes.
is that I am in Figline Valdarno! It might just be my favorite place. Yesterday, between the train station and the hotel, on our way back from Florence, we came across a yarn shop. The others just left me there. I was so excited to find it! I had been looking for them in Florence. It is a small shop without a huge selection, but it is warm and kind of cozy and the selection that they have is nice. The very, very friendly lady who works there (and who speaks better English than some of my travel companions) showed me a scarf on display that is made from a novelty yarn. I got two skeins of Borgo de' Pazzi Eva
to try to make a scarf like hers. I love that the yarn is made in Firenze. I have to experiment to figure out just what she was doing but it will be neat if I can get it right. Maybe I'll go back and take a picture of her scarf so I can at least ask my knitting friends. One of them will know what to do! I think it might be the boa scarf on the Patterns page of the Borgo de' Pazza website. Anyway, today is Worldwide Knit In Public Day and I am not in St. Louis to participate but this lady told me that she would be celebrating in her shop at 5:00 and she invited me and even offered to loan me needles. By the time we got back from Claudio's and I changed it was 6ish when I left the hotel. On the way across the piazza, though, I ran into a medieval fair! How cool is that?!!! Of course, I had to check that out pretty thoroughly. In my attempts to communicate with the folks there (Spanish reeeeeelly comes in handy if you get desperate) I learned that there would be a fire show at 9:30 tonight and jousting tomorrow night! I was SO excited! The yarn shop was closed by the time I finally made my way there so I started back to the hotel to round up classmates for the fair (I would see the yarn shop lady at the fair and learn that they had moved to a table there and I just missed them--and that there was a note on the door for me that I missed). We went back for the fire show, only it was a play of some kind so I figured that I had misunderstood. I hadn't, though. After the play there was a gal doing some sort of belly dance/fire show act. It was pretty neat. I loved the play even though they spoke too quickly for me to even attempt to follow. There was a lot of fighting. Of course I took pictures! I had an awesome night. I loved being here for their festival. I love experiencing this fair because it wasn't a touristy thing. I LOVE Tuscany! I don't ever wanna go home. I'd give anything in the world to have Julianne here with me. Some day... Hey, if I had "missed" my plane, I wonder if my friends would have taken up a collection to send her to me???
What a disgustingly gorgeous couple!
This guy doesn't look so hot right now but a few pictures down he is in costume. ;)
Their fair food is even way different from ours. There was not one funnel cake! I love it. I got one of these strawberry things for Julianne:
The guy at this booth cut me a taste of each of these meats. They were so good! The folks are very friendly.
Told ya he'd get better.
More gelato! This time I tried tiramisu.
This afternoon, after lunch and a tour of the gardens, Chef Claudio had a tasting for us. We tried three different peccorino cheeses. The first is twenty days old. The second is aged for six months. The last has been aged for a year. It was also wrapped in herbs while it aged. The difference was amazing! The first was good when it was the only one you ate. It is mild, soft, and creamy. The rind is good. The second is a little firmer and stronger. The last, though, is very good. It spoils you for the others! Not only did the aging add so much character, but the herbs enahnced the flavor a lot. I was sure that I tasted dill specifically. With it we ate the best cantaloupe! I haven't had a good one back home yet this year. The ones I've cut at work have been unripe and flavorless. I would have happily eaten this whole melon! We also tried three different charcuteries. I only took a picture of the first.
I am very much coveting the Cuban rums! I wish we could have them at home.
I don't know how to spell his name, but it is pronounced Waheem. He's a mess!
Here are just a few of the pictures of the gardens and flowers that I can't stop snapping. This place is amazing. Flowers are everywhere and the air smells like them. I wish I could record the smell somehow!
I tried to shoot the hummingbird moth
that was flitting around this lavender but he was never still! Cool little guy!
Chef Claudio grows grapes and olives. He presses his own olive oil.
When you see paintings of Tuscany, this is the view.
Guess who has been in the garden? Wild boars!
Lemon verbena, lavender (is there anything that smells better than those?), and yummy wild raspberries:
Wahim blowing me a kiss. He, and a couple of other folks, ferried us back and forth to Claudio's.
Chef coats are so unflattering. I DON'T have rolls!
See Pinocchio peeking out of my pocket? He doesn't write very well but he's CUTE!
These potatoes are very, very simple but DELICIOUS! They just have olive oil and herbs on them. I will be making them often at home!
We put red sauce on part of our pasta and the zucchini sauce on the other. They were both sooooo good!