It’s that time of the year again, when skies concede to a cobalt blue and temperatures start warming up. It’s also that time of year when my travel season begins. It is either a mixture of business and pleasure, until it gives way to the great summer holiday. Similar to last year, my trip to Italy was characterized by a visit to my client who lives in Tuscany, on the coast to be exact. Whereas last year I wrote a post about packing for the trip and then shared some snippets on Instagram during, this year I am taking the other route; that is writing about it after. So here’s a tailor-made itinerary and the photos to mark the sights.
My flight was on the first day of my holidays, a Saturday. I arrived at 7.30pm which didn’t allow me any time to do anything. Or so I thought. I was swiftly picked up from the airport by my client, her husband and one of her employees, and off we drove to this excellent restaurant called Torre a Cenaia. In reality it is much much more: there is a lot of land on which delicacies are cultivated, such as game (e.g. the wild boar was exquisite), and this estate produces many types of beer as well as wines. As it was dark it was not possible to get any photos but here is the link www.torreacenaia.it , so if you happen to be around Pisa check it out!
On Sunday we went for a long walk along Follonica’s coast and town centre, where the pedestrian zone was abuzz with families and most shops were open. My client explained that this area was particularly busy on that day because Follonica was hosting an event called Piazza D’Europa, which saw many exhibitors of different countries selling foods and drinks of various cuisines. After a delightful lunch at one of the well-known restaurants (of which my client is a regular patron), I was taken back to the hotel to prepare for the evening’s event, which was a festival in Bibbona, to celebrate the mini-celebrity Rita Salvadori for having built a cottage industry based on one of Italy’s favourite ingredients, the peperoncino (red pepper) (check out her website here http://www.peperita.it/). After the award ceremony and a masterful perfomance by the town’s student orchestra, we made our way to the Old Town Hall where a reception (which they call apericena as it blends the aperitif with dinner) akin to a small wedding awaited us. Unfortunately I did not take any photos of the food 😦
On Monday morning we headed off to Castiglione della Pescaia, a sleepy seaside town awash with charm and character. We strolled around the square before hiking up to the castle. Later, I accompanied my client to two wineries for which she is a consultant. One of them is called Cantina Sociale (from where I bought some culinary presents, as the various workers within the Cantina produce their own spices and pastas, among other things, under the label I Vini di Maremma). The other one is in Magliano, amid many agritourism villas and the lay of the land is spectacular, as are the peace and quiet. Here I observed my client testing the wines and giving her assessment on their vinification process, a learning curve indeed. For lunch we alighted at Grosseto at this rustic place my client has been to several times (alas, I forgot its name but the food was really carefully prepared; I tasted their paccheri with fresh tuna and melanzane).
On Tuesday it was my last day but the flight was after 6pm so there was plenty of time. We drove in the direction of the airport so it would make things easier and stopped at Monterotondo Marittimo, which is a medieval hamlet secluded in the hills and home to the famous soffioni boraciferi, which are emissions of water vapor at high pressure and temperature that form fissures in the ground. These are harnessed by a power plant so that energy is created out of natural resources. There we met an old friend of my client, went around the area for a brisk walk and then drove into the miniscule centre of the hamlet for a typical Tuscan lunch (we shared a fillet of beef with rucola and grana padano on a grill/sizzler). It was time to drive to the airport but I will definitely visit these charming parts of Italy again!