Sunday: Trieste

We said goodbye to our excellent Viareggio host, Roberto, and left for Trieste at about 9:30. It was a nice, sunny morning – perfect for our five-hour drive.We stopped in Rovigo, a city about three hours outside Viareggio and had lunch at Tavernetta Dante 1936, a small place where we were lucky to get a table. When we walked in and said we hadn’t called first, it looked at first as though we didn’t have a chance. After a moment, we were seated and content. The restaurant’s eight tables filled up quickly.The menu was included mainly fish dishes and we both decided on spaghetti with clams. Whenever I see tiny clams being served, it brings me back to my youth and growing up on the bay. Little clams there were seed clams and illegal to dig. This is certainly a different variety but I still reminisce about clamming in the bay.We continued our drive to Trieste, and it is so close to Slovenia we may check it out while we are here over the next few days. Now it is dark and we are happy to have easily found our Clams; a crazy 20€ ($25) lollipop at a rest stop; our neighborhood in Trieste at night

Sunday: Siena

Our last day in beautiful (but still very rainy) Siena was mainly a lazy and relaxing one. We got laundry done, which took a few morning hours. The streets were pretty much empty – so different from yesterday evening.

We went back to the Boccon del Prete restaurant for lunch (we had been there a few days ago). With many places closed on Sunday, it seems lunch spots are at a premium so we felt happy to get a table and have a delicious spaghetti-with-meat- sauce lunch.

Tomorrow we leave Siena drive to the Viareggio area to enjoy a few days of exploring there. It is two hours from here and on the watee. It will be a nice change of scenery although the 7-day forecast doesn’t look great right now.

photos: Siena looking like a postcard; the book exchange – I love finding this in a place I’m staying; Siena – empty of people this morning

Sunday: Scandicci

We are loving life in Tuscany after just 24 hours here. Our hosts are fantastic, and their attitude is that if you’re staying with us you are part of the family.

A lot of that ends up meaning food, and we are all for it. After an extra hour’s sleep because of the time change, we had a delicious and grand breakfast of eggs, cheese, pancetta, bread, jam, fruit – all grown by the family or prepared by Teresa, the host. It was delicious, needless to say.

We met a young couple from Canada who had been staying in the second bedroom for three days but were leaving that morning. They were fun to hat with a bit before they had to leave for their flight put of Rome.

We wandered into town, which was quiet since it is Sunday. When we came back to the villa, we were treated to wine, and mushroom lasagna, then a beef and potato dish, again with every ingredient grown or made on site. We were happily finished with eating when along came a mascarpone dessert with chocolate shavings on top. It was all better than any restaurant food we could have had, and all unexpected.

We left and stopped by an open house at a small nearby olive oil factory, and although we watched the whole process of olive and leaves going into the machine, the olives being separated, the fruit being chopped and blended, and eventually olive oil coming out, we did not sample anything because we were not at all hungry.

We came back to watch the sunset – an hour earlier than last night – and Teresa offered us wine and prosciutto on small warm rolls she had just made. Which of course we ate.

photos: Sunday sunset; an evening snack (plus wine); blending the olives – olive oil being made

Sunday: Alba

Today was the International White Truffle (or as they say here: Tartufo Bianco) Festival in Alba. We spent a good part of the morning and early afternoon there until the crowds and then rain became too much.

The festival had all kinds of food – boar roasting on a spit, chicken, ribs, kebabs – and plenty of other selections. It was too early for any of that, so we checked out the games set up around the city center. All of them looked as though they had been used for decades – worn, but still good-looking Skittles tables, bows and arrows, a dart board, ring toss to win bottles of wine, and many other games that seemed well attended with prizes, mostly wine, handed out to winners. It was fun to watch.

We made our way to the truffle tent, where dozens of vendors were selling their white and black truffles. It takes forever to make a sale since they add the cost each truffle individually and they have to wrap them carefully. There is an official judging area for those who are skeptical about the value of what they bought. So there were lines of people everywhere and the whole place was very busy.

(We bought just one truffle with the plan to slice it up – there’s a special truffle slicer in the kitchen drawer here – and mix it into scrambled eggs, as suggested by our host.)

The tent, although huge, became so filled with people that it was impossible to walk, so we left. We continued to walk around the streets for a while but there were people and umbrellas everywhere.

Eventually we got out of the rain and came back to enjoy the tartufo scrambled eggs. They were very good.

photos: white truffles for sale

below: a game of Skittles. I watched for a while but didn’t see anyone win.

wild boar cooking