After spending one week roaming around various corners of Italy, I learned a few things. I learned that eating gnocchi is more enjoyable when you get it from a waiter who greets you with a “buongiorno.” I learned that there are pickpockets everywhere & to keep an eye on your shit because they will get you in the métro station, restaurants, tourist attractions, shops, streets & while you’re having a shit. Every. Where. (No, I didn’t get robbed, it’s just that thievery is so bad in some parts of Italy that no one shuts up about it.)
I learned that there are no sexy gladiators hanging out at the Colosseum & to stop asking about them. I learned that eating a large chunk of fontina cheese before eating a giant plate of quattro formaggi gnocchi is a bad idea, as is eating snacks of questionable freshness that I find in the glove box. I learned that thanks to learning a bit of French, I understand more Italian than I previously thought. I learned that breakfast in Italy is a diabetic’s worst nightmare. (If you like starting your day with a big sugar slam, then go to Italy for breakfast.)
I also learned that Tuscany is worth all of the hype. I never believed all the romanticized shit I’d seen & heard about Tuscany, but as far as I could tell during the short time I was there, a lot of it seemed to be true.
We spent most of our time in Italy in Sorrento & Rome, but I’ll get to that later. From our house to Rome is a bit of a drive, so we had to make a couple of stops. Our first Italian stop was at an old Tuscan farmhouse near a medieval village called Montescudaio, not too far from Pisa.
Our plan had been to eat dinner at this place, then get some sleep before making the drive over to Pisa, then down to Rome the next morning. We knew we’d be having a decent dinner here, as they promise a completely organic meal prepared with nothing but local products, most of them from the very farm we were staying at.
What we didn’t know was that we’d be spending the next couple of hours steadily consuming bite after orgasmic bite, or that we’d be enjoying a meal that we would drool, moan & reminisce about for the rest of our natural lives.
The Happy Tuscan Farmer never stopped smiling as he brought plates of meat, cheese & salad. He brought us bread & wine, then stopped to tell us how all of these things were grown, raised & prepared. We stuffed ourselves with risotto, lamb & roasted potatoes as we listened to the Happy Tuscan Farmer – who spoke pretty decent French – tell us about his pecorino, wine & wild boar sausage.
Our host offered us a shot of grappa to help us digest. I’d never tried it, so I had to give it a go. It was pretty strong & sweet. Think of brandy that tastes an awful lot like raisins. Though, after looking at the bottle, I did accuse Olivier of letting me “suck down fucking Italian moonshine.”
By the time we’d finished our dessert & wine, it was all we could do to sloth our way back to our room to figure out the route to Pisa in the morning.
In the morning, while I got myself ready to start the day, Olivier went wandering around the farm, taking pictures & communing with the olive trees. (He does that. It’s his thing.) He happened to stumble across the Happy Tuscan Farmer, already busy with his hands in the soil. The two of them were so happy to be talking about food that I had to go find my husband out among the olive trees when it was time for breakfast.
Actually… it was time for SUGAR SLAM! Like I said before, a diabetic’s worst fucking nightmare. Cookies. For. Breakfast. Two different kinds of gooey, sticky cake. White bread. Honey. Not my thing. Unfortunately, almost everywhere we went in Italy was like this.
Then again, the coffee in Italy tends to make up for it. So. Damn. Good.
Now that we were well protected against having any sudden hypoglycemic fits, it was time to head to Pisa.
This is one of those places that, after you see it on TV & movies so many times, it feels a little surreal when you’re finally standing right in front of it. It’s not as big as I thought it would be, but that didn’t diminish the experience at all – it’s big enough & still quite impressive to see.
We didn’t go up inside the tower. Reservations must be made 2 weeks in advance & they only take 40 people at a time up to the top, provided they are above the age of eight years old. While we are both old enough to take the tour, we just didn’t want to do it badly enough to make an appointment, then spend half the day standing around in a line in the hot sun before climbing a bunch of old, slippery stone steps.
We’re just kind of boring that way.
Instead, we strolled around near the Leaning Tower, making our way through the throngs of dipshits, then wandered about the city, which really isn’t very big at all. We sat outside under an awning & ordered a couple of big salads to eat as we watched the locals & tourists going here & there.
Rome was still a few hours away, so after lunch, we jumped back in the car, wanting to get settled into our room there in time for dinner. (Why, yes… we do plan everything around our feeding times, thank you very much.)
Some of the most impressive sights were still in front of us, but we knew damn well that we’d already eaten the best meal of the entire trip & had fallen deep under the spell of Tuscany & its happy farmer.
However, if you’re thinking about getting a place in Tuscany, don’t bother. There’s really nothing available.