For the past 12 months or so since I started this blog, I deviated from the main subject from time to time. On occasion I would write about a particular play that we saw, or cereal, among other silly things. And although we are very fortunate to be able to feed my other obsession, travel, I have never written about any hotel, B&B or any type of accommodation. In Europe I don’t really care that much for accommodations as I just want a quiet spot and a comfortable bed, even if it means staying outside the city center as we normally do, or getting a room with a view of a brick wall as I opted one time. In Tuscany however I cared a little more and somehow by pure luck scored a villa that left an impression like no other place we visited.
The idea was simple. 5 night stay (later changed to 4) in a place where we can relax a little in the middle of a tiring trip, situated in that classic Tuscan setting we only imagined. Good food and wine was a major plus. We are normally the last people on earth that would spend dinner in a hotel but this is an entirely different ball of wax. Villa Grazianella delivered all that and more in a big way, to the point where we briefly considered extending our stay by another day and cutting our time in Rome short.
When you are situated in a place surrounded by rolling hills, vineyards and complete silence, its impossible to capture that in pictures. Even on the 4th and last morning we found it breathtaking. The villa, a restored former Montepulciano bishop country home, is situated a good (welcome to Tuscany via vineyards) 15 minutes from Montepulciano. However, while most tourists focus on the Val d’Orcia part of the region, the villa is also near the stunning Val di Chiana, or Valdichiana, or the much less sexier name I came up with, “the other side of A1”. Our meal of the trip perhaps just happened to be in that region, 15 minutes from the villa. Much of the vienyards surrounding the villa are their own, Fattoria del Cerro. In fact if you are using a GPS you may be able to find the villa by this name only, although Google can pinpoint “Villa Grazianella” for you
I read about Patrizia’s legendary cooking before we arrived and the plan was to have dinner at the villa on the first night. The dinner turned out to be one the most memorable of the entire trip. Deliciously savory Pappa al Pomodorro, Garganelli with sausage and zucchini ragu one of the yummiest pasta dishes of the trip. Garganneli in NYC restaurants comes in all shapes and sizes due to improper machinery, but this was the Garganelli I know and love. Chicken Cacciatore with green beans just like mamma used to make. Well, not my mamma really. Its just an expression. After that dinner, coming back every night from a different place to a full dining room of guests felt awkward. I had to apologize to Patrizia on a nightly basis and keep reminding her how we enjoyed her cooking. She cooks different items every day of the week by the way. At the pool, fellow New Yorkers were marvelling about her Ravioli form the night before, “best thing we ate this trip”. 2 days later another American couple was describing the singing they heard from the kitchen while the ladies were making fresh Pici, a common Tuscan pasta.
Well I would start singing too if I lived there. Alba, Patrizia, grazie mille! I miss you and hope to see you real soon.