Posts Tagged With: Italy

Our Ragusa Day with Alessandro (Uncovered Sicily)

img_9423Yes, still not done yet.  I have one last day to tell you about before I dwell into our favorite bites in Sicily.  While the entire day with Alessandro was a memorable one, our last stop at the winery was a particular highlight.  Alessandro is the proprietor of Uncovered Sicily, essentially in the business of selling cultural experiences of all kinds.  From archaeological walks with an archaeologist, Museum walks with curators, to Arancini cooking classes with Arancinialogists!  Alessandro lives in Ragusa, and not only extremely knowledgeable, but quite passionate about the area and its terrain.  We spent the day with him, visiting three places the area is known for most (cheese, olive oil, wine) and even had some time to explore the old town of Ragusa Ibla with him

Iabichino – Our first stop was an eye opener.  An old 4th generation dairy farm in a beautiful area.  Three generations on premises, along with 80 cows and one very lucky bull.  You can see the smirk!  Although we’ve been to such farms in Italy before, it was particularly interesting to learn about this farmer’s routine, way of life, and whats in store for the kids living in the farm.  Hearing about milking the 80 cows twice a day alone made me look for the nearest bench.  Its a hard life that makes you appreciate what you eat.  We sampled earthy fresh ricotta they made especially for us, and other traditional Ragusano cheese.  This is something you cant do on your own, unless you speak Italian and know the family and area well

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Cheese Master hard at work

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Cutrera – One of the two olive oil legends we visited in Sicily.  The other one is Mandranova which we visited on our own a few days later.  You realize the status of the two when you visit Eataly NYC (both of them).  While there are all kinds of great oils from all over Italy, the two have their own dedicated sections.  We learned about the techniques and hard work that sets them apart, and had some fun with the proprietors.  We learned how to sample award winning EVOO properly (apparently just tasting it is all wrong), followed by a simple lunch of.. you guessed it… olives and olive based spreads and salads.  Olives is one of the only foods I’m not particularly fond of, but I was fond of this.

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Feudo di Santa Tresa winery – I couldnt do the first one by myself, and I needed a designated driver for the third.  This appointment alone makes this excursion worthwhile.  We were joined by Laura and the winery’s CEO for a property tour and tasting, and boy what tasting it was.  Its a beautiful estate in the middle of a rugged area.  In the cellars, you practically smell the product and history.  We tasted around 7 wines, some of which were quite unique to us.  I particularly liked the Rina Ianca white (Grillo + Viognier combo), while Mrs Z was smitten by the Frappato, a red served slightly chilled and can be used for fish.  All served with a beautiful lunch spread.  But by the end of it all, it was just us having a fun filled lunch with new friends, and a designated driver.  Thanks Alessandro!

http://www.uncoveredsicily.com/

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Italia – Getting Organized

TuscanyI spent the last couple of days day dreaming categorizing all the Italian posts, filing them in the proper locations.  On the left side you can now see the five categories under Italy…

Florence

Rome

Tuscany

Emilia-Romagna

Piedmont

Venice, the lakes, and other parts are not there because I dont have enough blog posts on them (at the moment the count is about 0).  Here are all the tips you need on Venice:  The greatest museum in the world:  Rialto market.  The greatest bite post the greatest museum in the world:  Antiche Carampane.  That is it.  Once I come back, I will start writing on Venice and the rest of them.

But I must say, out of the 290 posts published so far since I started this blog, the Italy posts are by far my favorite.  Sure its nice to write about my home town, my adapted home town, and even New Orleans once in a while which produced the most viewed post on EWZ (571 shares on Facebook alone).  But the Italy posts, while not much in the way of generating traffic for some reason, are the reason why it took me two days to do this.  A lot of staring and day dreaming.  Italy is the reason I have a hard time getting overly excited about our trip next month to Prague, Salzburg, Vienna.  It spoiled me forever

Gattavecchi

Gattavecchi crew in Montepulciano

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Hosteria Giusti – A Hidden Legend in Modena

Hosteria GiustiIts taken me over three months to write about our food adventures in Piedmont and Emilia Romagna over the fall.  And I can easily write for another month or so as it was that kind of a trip.  But I think its time to wrap this up, and I cant think of a better way than with one of Italy’s true icons, considered by many one of Italy’s greatest.  I will also have a post about our top dishes in the region later this week.

Giusti is a Salumeria in the center of Modena, not too far from one of the most celebrated Duomos in the country, and not too far from another famous church, Osteria Francescana, considered one of the best restaurants in the world.  But when you arrive at this Salumeria Monday-Friday between 11-5, you notice a peculiar thing, its closed.  That’s because they are busy making all sorts of magic in the back, to those lucky enough to snag one of the 4 tables that one needs to reserve weeks, sometimes months in advance. 

Hosteria Giusti dining roomHosteria Giusti also happens to be Mario Batali’s favorite restaurant in Italy.  Baltali’s dad was a close friend with the late Adriano Morandi who opened the Hosteria in 1989.  The shop itself however is over 400 years old.  400 years!  I’m no historian, but this sounds like pre-texting to me.  Most folks come to Modena with their little Trip Advisor rankings miss out on this jewel.

To get to Giusti, you don’t got to through the store, but to this quiet back alley off Via Emilia.  Walk until you reach a gate where you wait for someone to show up to hear the secret password.. “Ummmm Jewsty?” Bamm!  You are in.  Cecilia, Adriano’s daughter served us and spoke better English than some of my relatives living in NYC.  I was suffering from a cold (I only get sick on vacations, becoming quite comical), and this was the worst day.  But taste buds were intact, though no wine for me, homemade Lambrusco for her which she enjoyed.Hosteria Giusti Gnoccho frito salumi

We started with some Gnoccho frito salumi. Every town off Via Emilia makes these little buns differently it seems with different sizes, degree of puffiness and different names. Here are the large puffy ones that pop on the first bite into this nice marriage with the various salumi sitting on top. The lardo in particular was of the rich, buttery, high quality variety.

Minestrone Fritters – Perhaps the most interesting thing we ate here. They take a Minestrone soup that thickened overnight, mix in Parma cheese, flour, egg, and deep fry a spoonful worth and voila.. but wait… there’s more… sprinkle some of their own ultra aged Traditional balsamic vinegar and Voila!  I now know what “Traditional” means after visiting a Balsamic producer in the area earlier that day. Those fritters don’t look very exciting, but carry a lot of punchHosteria Giusti Minestrone Fritters

More excellence followed with the Maccheroni with Zampone (stuffed pig’s trotter, a Modena specialty) sauce.  Tagliatelle with veal ragu was even better. More of that scrumptious, robust ragu we’ve come to expect throughout the trip, and this was perhaps the best one

Cecilia recognizing my pain when I was choosing our lone secondi to share and offered half portions.  Another exceptional veal cheek that we just couldn’t get enough on this trip. This one, no frills, smothered with its own juices, just melt in your fork deliciousness.  And I had to try the Cotechino, another Modena specialty served normally during Christmas time.  It comes coated with a rich, sweet Zabaione sauce made with Lambrusco.  Cotechino is a very tender slow boiled fresh sausage made with pork meat, skin, plenty of fat and is very nicely spiced.  And together with the Zabaione you got some very nice contrasting flavors.  Marry Christmas to us.  Sorry, no picture for this one.

Overall, an extremely memorable, top 10 of the year meal.  Hosteria Giusti and Modena is another strong reason to stay an extra day in Bologna.

Maccheroni Hosteria Giusti veal cheek Hosteria Giusti Salumi Hosteria Giusti prosciutto Hosteria Giusti cut Hosteria Giusti

Categories: Emilia-Romagna, Italy | Tags: , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Lazy Post – Random Bologna

Italy 2014 1344I haven’t posted a lazy post in a while in case you didnt notice.  Reason for this particular one is threefold.

1)  Hockey addiction is back in full force

2)  Busy at work after my dependable intern decided to suddenly quit

3)  Lazy

Here are more from our recent visit to Bologna

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Categories: Emilia-Romagna, Italy | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

Sale Grosso – Is This Bologna’s Top Seafood Option?

Sale Grosso SpaghettiReports of the seafood demise in Bologna may have been Sale Grossly exaggerated.  You like it?  I thought of that line while shaving this morning, which is were I do most of my deep thinking.  Whenever I say that for some reason the usual reply is “You should think about growing a beard”.  With a beard not only I would not be mistaken for Russell Crow anymore, but I would also be single and unemployed.  My full time job involves solving software related issues and very often the solutions come to me when I shave.  It also helps me with the various daily First World Problems like figuring out where I left my iPhone, what to have for lunch, who really shot Jr, and why are my shoes wet.  Turns out the shoes were wet due to exhilarated excitement of some nieces and nephews playing hide and seek in the closet the night before.  Yes, they get excited and they pee in your shoes.

Also during shaving I normally devise the all important action plan of where we’ll be eating seafood on our next trip.  We normally find ourselves craving seafood at some point of any trip, especially in Italy, regardless of our proximity to the sea.  La Tellina in Sienna was a nice find last year, while Le Mani in Pasta in Rome was less successful but hit some marks.  In this case, I figured after a week of heaviness in Piedmont and ER, Bologna would be the place for seafood, and all signs pointed to Sale Grosso.  Hidden in some alley in the university area, and with some locals never even heard of it, the “hidden gem” cliche comes to mind.  In fact some locals even turned up their noses at the idea of eating seafood in Bologna

Sale Grosso Octopus

I don’t mean to set you up for another feast as it actually turned out to be a rather light lunch, at least for our vacation standards.  Burratina (Burrata) with Bottarga (salted dried tuna roe “sticks”), shockingly good, and grows on you as you are nibbling on it.  Bottarga is not something you normally see on NY menus.  The Burrata was oozing with richness and went very well with the salty dried tuna, and the olive oil used was especially noteworthy.  Octopus, simply grilled, tender and absolutely delicious, arrived with some of the best tasting grilled veggies we had on this trip.

Rolled breaded fish stuffed with raisins, pine nuts and other unidentified objects came with expertly cooked Broccoli Rabe and creamy tomato water. Perhaps the dish of the day, which included a very nice dinner later on.  Spaghetti with Seafood was perfectly al dented with generous amount of fresh shellfish and fish. This is what every basic Spaghetti with Seafood should taste like.

Sale Grosso Fish

Smiling, friendly owner, slightly overdressed for the occasion, unless we all were underdressed.  Wife who wasnt there is the brainchild of the Mediterranean inspired menu.  She’s from Bologna but with southern roots.  And the cook during lunch was from Puglia where some of the lunch dishes get their inspiration from.  Nice and comfortable room, popular with locals and nearby university students and staff.  Looked like we were the only tourists there.  While the lunch menu showed plenty of market freshness and creativity, during dinner things pick up a notch.  Check out Sale Grosso guys

Now if you excuse me I need to go shave in order to figure out what to wear tomorrow.  Ciao!

Italy 2014 1383-001Sale Grosso

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Locanda Mariella {Calestano} – The Perfect Meal

Locanda Mariella eggsWhy are we here?  How did we get here?  What exactly made Kim Kardashian famous?  When is an egg no longer an egg?  I feel like starting this one like Anthony Bourdain starts some of his shows, with deep, philosophical nonsensicalness that grabs your attention and never lets go… until commercials.  Its the perfect prelude to what’s to come, whether its “The best soup in the world” (Vietnam – last episode), “Best Duck Feet I ever had” (Beijing), or “Best Meal I ever had” (French Laundry).  Because somehow “The Perfect Meal” or “Best Egg Dish I ever had” would simply get lost in the shuffle of this blog if I dont start with a deep Kim Kardashian question.  Makes sense?  I thought so

Locanda Mariella OutsideWhat makes a perfect meal?  When you are hard-pressed to find any little detail that worked against your enjoyment of the meal.  From the food, the host, the wine, the room, the environment, there is absolutely nothing negative I can say about Locanda Mariella.  And while I usually ignore any imperfections in meals I greatly enjoy, its hard not to notice when everything goes right.  Sure someone may be bothered by its location, 1 hour south of Parma, in the North Apennine Mountains.  But to us the location just added to the fun and intrigue.  Especially considering it allowed us to visit the town of Felino, the home of “King of Salami” where the Italian version of Rick Steves tried to sell his entire Salumeria to us.  And on the way back, it was the magnificent Torrechiara castle which deserves its own post.Locanda Mariella - Strolghino and Cheese

Mariella is Slow Food at its finest.  In a way it reminded me of the one man show of Roberto in the village of Montisi, while the two got almost nothing in common except for their true Slow Foodness and that passion to deliver to you the finest ingredients available to them.  It almost felt like you are visiting a three Michelin star chef who retired in the mountains in the middle of nowhere and cooks to those brave and willing souls simple mountain food

Alloooora! At Mariella all this melodramatic stuff came from sampling just 5 dishes, with wine pairing and dessert, with each dish making me shake my head with hand gestures Andrew Zimmern style.  Mariella had a white truffle menu, black truffle menu, and a regular menu that included black truffle filled classics which we mostly took advantage of.  Did I use “Allora” there correctly?  Two hours into the meal I still did not have the heart to tell Mariella that we don’t speak Italian.  She explained every single detail of the meal in Italian. My entire Italian is solely based on menu Italian, so when I wanted to ask if the egg was baked at some point, I said “Umm.. Uovo..Al Forno?” Mrs Ziggy had a “Fish Called Wanda” moment, and now I occasionally have to speak Italian to herLocanda Mariella - Sformatino

Started with a very nice Strolghino salami with aged Parmigiano-Reggiano.  And continued with some of the staples on the menu, potato Sformatino with pumpkin cream, and polenta with cheese fondue and black truffles.  Both outstanding!  A great start aided by a fine Sauvignon Blanc/Gewürztraminer blend from Le Fate Furbe (Tuscany).  Mariella, I find out later from my host in Parma what I suspected all along, is a great sommelier

Two sunny side up eggs with black truffles would have been the best egg dish I ever ate even without the truffles.  It hits you like a smack in the face as soon as you taste the whites.  So rich, so creamy, so good I didn’t want to share.  I believe with my menu Italian understanding that she blends cheese instead of butter with the eggs.  A truly remarkable dish in every way, aided by black truffles which had more flavor than some whites we had on this trip. Gnochetti with light cream and black truffles, by far best Gnocchi of a few gnocchi dished we enjoyed on this trip.  Mariella matched a beautiful Nebbiolo with this course

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For the third course we shared another outstanding veal cheek with mashed potatoes (since we had polenta in the first course, she suggested mashed instead), along with a Voerzio Barolo 08.  I say “another cheek” as this was about the 4th of the trip.  Another thing we couldnt get enough of on this trip was Cachi (Perssimon).  We like eating it and we liked saying it.  Here it was a splendid chestnut mousse with a cachi purée, along with an excellent preserved sour cherries with ice cream

Simply Perfect!

Locanda Mariella - Polenta Locanda Mariella Beef cheeks Locanda Mariella Hezelnut cake Locanda Mariella Ice Cream Locanda Mariella road Locanda Mariella

Categories: Emilia-Romagna, Italy | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Emilia Romagna – Little Miss Black Piggy

Italy 2014 868Moving on to the region I like to call Emilia Romagna, because that is what its called.  This is the middle leg of the trip, First leg is here, last still to come.  This is the most eclectic leg, featuring a variety of food filled fun…  Culatello, Prosciutto, Parma Cheese, Parma, castles, AT&T misadventures, wife finding out that all the shoes you packed have holes in them, and some of the underwear, mountains, black truffles, more great food including another “one of those meals”, and much more.

Day 5 – Cremona and Corte Pallavicina

We drove the two hours from our hotel in Piedmont to Cremona, a town (just outside ER) renowned for its Violin making.  Violins, violins and more violins everywhere you turn, workshops, Violin Museums, chocolates shapes like violins. A very interesting, clean, super bike friendly town.  As a New Yorker I was staring at old ladies riding bikes with great fascination in particular.  This could also be the home to the most underrated Duomo in Italy.  But all this fun came to a crushing halt after I called AT&T to upgrade my data service, only to have them disconnect everything completely.  Thankfully, I pre-programmed the GPS with most of the sites so we could get to the next destination.

Rest of the day was one of the highlights of the trip, Antica Corte Pallavicina where we spent the night.  The entire stay was like a dream, a very good one, and I will have a blog post when the time comes.  Corte Pallavicina is renowned for their Culatello, essentially prosciutto on crack, which can only be produced in that area in/near the town of Zibello.  Food lovers detour to visit their famous cellar featuring their black pig Culatello aged for Price Albert, Prince Charles, René Redzepi of Noma, Osteria Francescana in Modena and more.  Each one comes with a sticker who it belongs to.  We used their bikes to ride along the Po river, visited their famous black pigs, white cows, and had a wonderful dinner at their Michelin Starred restaurant, before a friend I met on Trip Advisor Forum joined us for the meetup we’ve been planning for a year

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Day 6 – The cheese producer, the meal, the castle

I arranged an early morning visit to CiaoLatte in Noceto, one of many Parmigiano-Reggiano producers in the area.  For a mere 10 euros we got a tour and witnessed the entire process of cheese making, along with a tasting of some of their products.  This is a small family producer that is very popular with local schools partly due to the efforts of the mother who turned into a Liza Minnelli song and dance routine when she just met us and found out we are from NYC.  More on CiaoLatte later

We then visited the town of Felino, known for the Felino Salami, dubbed “King of Salami”.  We had a little Felino tasting at a small Salumeria by the Rick Steves of Salumi salesmen who tried to sell us his entire store.  We wanted to visit the salami museum in the nearby castle of Felino but it was closed.  Although the splendid views from that castle didnt make us feel too bad.

Lunch was probably the most memorable meal of the trip at Locanda Mariella in the mountains.  A culinary ecstasy by a Slow Food legend.  If you understand Slow Food and seek it in your travels to Italy, it doesnt get any better than this.  After lunch, the magnificent Castle of Torrechiara was the obvious choice smack in the middle between Mariella and our B&B.  Dinner at Ai Due Platani was good but pales in comparison to lunch and other meals on the trip.

Villino Di Porporano, our B&B for the next two nights did the trick and more.  Highly recommend it

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Day 7 – Parma

Spent an entire day touring Parma.  Visited the magnificent Duomo, Farnese theater and the attached museum where we couldnt for the life of us find the exit when we were done.  The stunning Teatro Regio was unfortunately closed due to the Verdi festival rehearsals.  Salumeria Garibaldi treated us to a nice light lunch at one of their 3 tables.  Then we explored the big park and the city outside of the historic center which we found equally as fascinating.  Dinner was a good one at the ancient Cocchi

More to come soon.  Going shoe shopping….

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Categories: Emilia-Romagna, Italy | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments

Top 10 Things We Ate in Tuscany

Il Pozzo RavioliI’m off to the Island I like to call Providenciales in Turks and Caicos, but meanwhile here is something to chew on…

Pollo al Burro in Sostanza (Florence) – Call it chicken with butter, butter with Chicken, doenst really matter.  Two generous breasts are cooked over coal before pan fried with eggs and one stick of butter.  Thats still 2 sticks less than the similarly celebrated BBQ Shrimp at Mr B’s in New Orleans, but rich nonetheless.  The result is tender and addictive goodness.  With the massive Sostanza Bistecca Fiorentina side by side, for the first time ever my fork was reaching for the bird over a well cooked medium rare steak.  Long live pollo!Sostanza Chicken

Pappa al Pomodoro at Da Ruggero (Florence).  Love on first bite.  My first Pappa al Pomodoro of the trip might as well have been my last.  The waiter reassure me that this is one of best Pappas in town, so who am I to argue.  Who knew tomatoes and stale bread can taste so good.  And I could have easily included some of Ruggero’s killer pastas (with a nice kick) here as well.

Da Ruggero

Cecina at Da Felice (Lucca).  Oldest Pizza in town, and the most popular with locals.  We sampled some great pizzas, one with salami, and another one with prosciutto that blended oh so nicely with the rest of the ingredients.  But I came for the Cecina, thin pancake like or crepe if you will, made of chickpea flour.  Delicious!  Add a little bit of seasoning, Delicious-er!

Lucca - Cecina

Charcuterie Board at L’Incontro (Volterra).  Holy smokes this was good.  Leave it to local Annie Adair from Tuscan Tours to take us to this treasured local bar.  A feast for all senses that included great Salami, Prosciutto and all sorts of Pecorino cheeses (not seen below).  But the highlight was a first-rate Porchetta they just happened to have prepared that day.  Highly recommend having lunch here when in town.

Charcuterie Board at L'Incontro

Pecorino at Podere Il Casale (Near Pienza).  Like eating cheese for the first time.  The views did not hurt, but the smells and flavors from the Sheep’s milk cheese like the grape aged or walnut leaves age was nothing like we ever had.  And did I mention the views?  Oh yes, looks like I did

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Ricotta and Spinach Ravioli at Il Pozzo (San Angelo in Colle). (Top Picture).  Magical dish in another magical setting in stunning San Angelo in Colle.  Watch the monks sing nearby at Sant’Antimo abbey before having this beauty with butter and sage.  This is a typical Tuscan dish you can have anywhere, but it was especially memorable here, as was the marvelous Pici.  Or Pinci as they call it in nearby Montalcino, a town too proud (of their Brunello) to simply call it like everyone else. 😉

Bruschetta at Gattavecchi (Montepulciano).  Carnival in my belly!  Fantastic Salsa Verde with melted cheese, savory liver pâté (best of the trip – Lilian the Brazilian cook makes it with wine and fruit), all kinds of great concoctions in a cup including potatoes-onion-bell pepper thingy (foodie technical term), and my fave, white beans spread with bread and veggies – ribolita.  Heavenly stuff at this heavenly city.

Gattavecchi - Bruschetta

Insalata Lagumi at Da Roberto (Montisi).  Simple, beautiful, and highly palatable.  One man show Roberto lets the ingredients do the talking.  5 different beans with pecorino, tomatoes, sunflower seeds, carrots, stem of garlic, olive oil.  All work together like a beautiful symphony, showcasing Roberto’s true passion.  The wrong place to ask “Whats good here” in this Slow Food Ambassador’s place.

Da Roberto - Insalata lagumi

Polenta with Porcini at La Tellina (Siena).  On a Porcini filled trip this was most memorable.  Grilled to perfection Polenta with these delicate, great textured Porcini, a nice app before the great seafood arrives.  All prepared with a lot of love from the family that runs this picture perfect trattoria.

La Tellina - Poricini

Ravioli with pigeon from Guastini (Valiano).  This was a tough pick since everything in this meal of the trip was so good.  I could have easily inserted the glorious fennel crusted duck, or the divine Tagliata, or the sinful fried rabbit I suppose.  But these pigeon stuffed Ravioli with 2 succulent pieces did the trick and more.  No wonder this place was full with locals

Guastini - Ravioli

Categories: Italy, Tuscany | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Lazy Post – Postcard Perfect Tuscany

No idea where this is

No idea where this is

For the photographers out there looking for those perfect Tuscan shots, here are some important tips on where to find them.  Grab a pen and pencil (in case… you know… the pencil breaks)

1)  Drive all over Tuscany, especially the Val d’Orcia area

Hmmm, I swear I thought I had more tips, but I’m drawing a blank.  I think this might be it – just drive around with your eyes open.  Surely it would be challenging to drive with your eyes closed, but I’ve seen it done in Florida (and got the metal plate in my leg to prove it).  But the truth is the entire Tuscany region is one giant postcard, and Val d’Orcia is perhaps as picture perfect as it comes.  Simply going from point A to point B anywhere in that area will produce more unique landscapes, quite different than the drive you took to get to point A.

From Florence to Lucca to seeing Volterra through the eyes of Annie Adair, to Siena, Pienza and the rest of the gems in the South, here are some of the best shots we took

Florence - Santa Croce

Florence – Santa Croce

Podere Il Casale

Podere Il Casale near Pienza

Siena

Siena

From Avignonesi to Valiano

From Avignonesi to Valiano

Near Monticchiello

Near Monticchiello

La Foce

La Foce

Siena to Asciano

Siena to Asciano

lucca san michele in foro

lucca san michele in foro

Villa Grazianella

Villa Grazianella

Volterra

Volterra

Pienza to Montepulciano

San Quirico to Pienza (very close to San Quirico)

Pisa

Pisa

San Quirico

San Quirico

Near San Quirico

Near San Quirico

Montepulciano

From Montepulciano

Montalcino

From Montalcino

La Vitaleta (famous chapel by San Quirico)

La Vitaleta (famous chapel by San Quirico)

From Avignonesi to Valiano

From Avignonesi to Valiano

From Abbey of Sant’Antimo

From Abbey of Sant’Antimo

Bagno Vignoni

Bagno Vignoni

Categories: Italy, Tuscany | Tags: , , , , , | 6 Comments

Florence – City of Eugene

Today the plan was to write one of those “lazy posts” on the Italian City of David.  Its where I spend some time picking the best pictures of some place I visited recently and just throw them in here with minimal word content.  But it just feels weird to do that today due to some circumstances.

When people mention the subject of Trip Advisor, the immediate thing that comes to mind to most people is Reviews.  Mainly reviews of Restaurants, Hotels,  and Attractions.  But very few know about Trip Advisor’s other powerful arm, the Forum.  You can spend a month in some city or country’s TA forum and gain a wealth of information.  Information that is absent from your guidebook.  The forum to me is internet’s best travel tool.  All this, thanks to regular forum participants that spend their spare time helping tourists with the various questions they have.  They are some of their city’s greatest ambassadors.  One of those ambassadors was Eugene Martinez who tragically passed away a few days ago.  I never actually met Eugene but we came very close when I was there in June.  Eugene was a tremendous help in making our Florence stay as memorable as it was.  From my interactions with him and from what I heard he was kind, caring, funny, and passionate about the city of Florence and Tuscany.  He will be sorely missed.

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Categories: Florence, Italy, Tuscany | Tags: , , , , | 7 Comments

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