Tag Archives: Italy

Rolling through Tuscany

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May 30th, 2012

Phew….we made it! Today was my first time driving in Italy, and oh, what a journey. I, the captain and my partner Matt, the co-captain, braved our way from Rome (eek!) to Saturnia and then on to Chianciano Terme.

We departed about an hour late due to some confusion at the car rental agency and headed for Saturnia; which may host the most beautiful, natural hot springs in the world! When researching for my Europe trip in 2010, I came across blogs and pictures regarding Saturnia’s lovely hot springs; or ‘terme’ in Italian. Since then it has been a must on my so called ‘bucket list’.

I planned this drive through Tuscany for weeks. I had several road maps and Google maps/directions to boot. Needless to say, Google failed me, as the directions  rendered themselves useless after the third step. But in the end, getting lost in Tuscany isn’t so bad.

 

After driving 20 minutes out of the way, then re-tracing our tracks, we then had to go down the road we returned from once more to ‘hopefully’ head in the ‘general’ direction of Siena. By this point I thought we’d never make it.

Miraculously, after about three hours (total trip was supposed to be two and a half hours) we saw a SIGN! A sign for Saturnia! It took us about 45 minutes to reach it, but it was totally worth it! (so many exclamation points because it was THAT exciting!)

When we finally made it, we parked our car, stripped down and got into our bathing suits. We walked for about one minute down a rocky road and could see the luscious springs.

If I could describe the sight in one word it would be ‘heaven’, if I were religious that is. But hey, this could be my heaven. This is what pictures are perfect for, because I couldn’t possibly give the springs justice with my description.

On the inside, there are some sharp rocks to be mindful of, and there is no easy way of getting from one ‘dip’ to the next. So I would not recommend going very far in the springs if you aren’t agile. Also, there is an odor due to the sulphur, but it isn’t very pungent and you do get used to it rather quickly. Needless to say, the first thing I did when arriving at our hotel in Chianciano Terme was have a shower!

Getting to Chianciano was another story…but I will leave it at we ‘eventually’ made it. We checked in to our hotel at 10pm. Thanks to Google maps, and not having a GPS we were only 4 hours behind schedule.

After my shower, we headed out for a fabulous dinner at a local pizzeria. I had a seafood pasta, that was one of the best I’ve ever had; while the co-captain had a prosciutto cotto e funghi pizza. We drank the best bottle of wine we have had since arriving in all of Europe at a mere 8 euro, along with limoncello, tiramisu and café. It was a wonderful experience.

You know the tiramisu is good when sharing you literally draw a line down the middle to divide it.

  

Tomorrow we set off to Montepulciano for the day, the to Sienna where we stay the night.

Until tomorrow!

LR

Rome

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Sigh…in the most wonderful way ever! I am here in Rome, Italy. I have been here for three weeks now and I had no idea that a person could relax so much. Seriously, Rome has turned me into the Goddess of relaxation. I literally just woke up from an afternoon nap…and I slept-in this morning… like all my other mornings!

That being said, today wasn’t the most eventful day, as I have only walked outside to get some fresh groceries. But I have been touring this incredible city other days.

On the food note, while in I was introduced to better quality foods than I was used to having back in Toronto. Nice’s food is still super amazing don’t get me wrong, but I am enjoying my food experiences in Rome much more. I guess Italian food is more my style…which might not be good for my waistline. One of my favourite things to do here is to go grocery shopping for fresh ingredients then come home and cook. Let’s not forget about the tasting part…that’s pretty fun too!

Here is one of our feasts complete with Caprese salad, Parpardelle pasta with a porcini mushroom and truffle oil sauce along with our focaccia.


When cooking Italian it is impossible not to buy fresh ingredients. This is why there is nothing BUT fresh ingredients everywhere you look. I have found a small produce shop nearby that has great quality fruits and vegetables at the cost of basically nothing. I once filled my bag with carrots, a lemon, a lime, arugula, basil and lots of tomatoes at a cost of only 1.80 euro. This is why I go back everyday, to buy the freshest ingredients.

    

It is also possible to buy focaccia and pizza dough rolled up ready to bake at home. It comes out so fluffy and delicious. I love topping the focaccia with fresh mozzarella, plum tomatoes and fresh basil, for the most amazing lunch!

Here I topped the focaccia with mozzarella, proscuitto and arugula.

Here pasta is .99 euro and feeds both of us twice…did I mention it is fresh pasta? I have never had pasta like this. The pasta is actually quite hard to overcook and I can always achieve the “al dente” state. Also, I have never, ever, seen so many pasta choices; some types I’ve never even heard of until now.

Here is some succulent Osso Bucco alongside Paccheri Pasta. This meal was and still is our best in Rome!

The food and drink prices have decreased from Nice. We are buying .85 euro wine and really “soaking” it up.

We got all this stuff (Aperol liquor, 4 beers, 1L red wine, juice, mixed seafood salad, soft cheese, Pesto, jared clams, pizza dough, 2 artichokes, mushrooms, sparkling water and mushrooms) for 17 Euro! What amazing value!

Also, right now is artichoke season in Italy, so for the first time my boyfriend and I cooked and ate fresh artichokes. Once cooked, we scraped the harder leaves between our front teeth to get the small portion of edible artichoke that is on each leaf. One by one, we were getting closer to the ‘heart’ of the artichoke. This is obviously the best and most ‘meaty’ part of the ‘choke. This was a fun experience and we have even bought more artichokes for this evening.

 

 

I can’t wait to get back in the kitchen!

Ciao