Ah, Italy. Your troublesome ways never disappoint me. I think people here must siesta just to escape the craziness of living in a country with no rules and no formal procedures. There aren't even lanes on the road, for Heaven sake. However, I must admit, one of my favorite things about Italy is driving here. At 130 km per hour on the Autostrade, things begin to blur. Literally.
We slept about 11 hours each of the past two nights, that, and whatever the pharmacist gave me last night seems to be doing wonders. I'm congested, and have a runny nose, but I am feeling much better. We are up and packed to go by about 11:00 AM. We decide to complete our winery tour of the place next door before heading out to the Fiat dealership to see about a piece for the car, then moing on to the Hertz in Chuisi if that doesn't work. The winery is awesome, and though I've decided I'm not a huge fan of this nobile wine of Montepulciano, I love seeing the bulging casks of oak towering above me and those stacked three high lining the walls of the musty cellar. Some of my favorite pics from the trip are taken in this dungeon.
The drive to Chiusi isn't bad, but finding the Hertz is a pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey sort of adventure. We end up calling, and lucky us, actually reaching an English-speaking and extremely helpful chap named Sergio. This story I'll save for the following post.
We stop in a tiny ceramics factory on the side of the road where I find a bowl as big as a trough for 88 euros. I leave it there as it would cost three times that much to ship home. Then it's on to Greve in Chianti, by way of a supermarket. The first place I try and stop SAYS supermarket, but it's actually a shoe store. My Italian still isn't so good, apparently. When I do finally manage provisions, it is pouring rain and I am soaked by the time I get back to the car. What does mom want? Instant coffee. I don't even drink coffee, and that makes me cringe. I'm might be coerced into instant wine, though. That might be the next big thing. Sold in packets... for those moments you just need a pick-me-up.
Like when we arrive at the absolutely adorable little stone farmhouse we will be staying in the next few nights. Nobody here to meet us. Here's the funny thing though... Italians don't ever seem to be on time, but both the sister-in-law of the woman renting us the place who stops by to say the father-in-law is on the way with the key, and the pater familias himself, comment on us being outside our estimated window of two to four in the afternoon. I apologize -- in Italian -- and explain about the car. It is what it is. What it is. What it freaking is. Nothing seems to go according to plan here, so I'm just going with the flow now.
And the flow is heading out to dinner. After a half hour drive, the last of which is up a dirt road into the middle of nowhere, our lovely "fully operational" GPS says we've arrived at the restaurant recommended by Lonely Planet. We make our way back to Greve central, where we find a darling little restaurant called La Cantina di Manetti Allesandro. The owner is way friendly and sits us down with a glass of prossecco each -- on the house.
Here's what we order:
Coccoli con Stracchino e Prosciutto o Lardo di Colonnata (fried pizza dough with ham or lardo di colonnata and stracchino cheese)
Gnocchi Gorgonzola e Tartufo (potato gnocchi with gorgonzola cheese and truffle)
Cantina con Mozzarella, Tartufo, Bresaola e Rucola (pizza with mozzarella, truffle, cured beef and rocket)
The gnocchi, which is technically pasta, is amazing. Absoeffinglutely amazing. The sauce literally makes me want to lick the plate, which I do, but in a refined way so as not to draw too much attention to myself. My eyes roll back in my head a little. Of course, that could be the prossecco, too, but I'm convinced this is the most amazing thing I've eaten in Italy so far. Yum. I can barely finish my dinner, and I catch mom wrapping hers in a napkin and sticking it in the bag with the extra appetizer. Even while I am stroking my Italian food baby, Francesca, the owner sends over desserts, also on the house. He winks at me.
Nice, but here's the thing. Italian men? Too skinny. They dress funny. Not this guy, per se, but he IS wearing a fanny pack. Most of the men here are either bald, or have really really thick hair I would be afraid to lose things in (like my sanity, which is help on by a very thin cord at this point.) It's the same thing with the pasta -- I'm just not sold. So for all you clowns back home who keep advising me to find myself a nice Italian boy... I've got my eye on the prize back home, thank you very much.
Back home, I've put a load of wash in and tucked mom onto the couch. Look, it's not my doing -- she chose to sleep there. There are two bedrooms (upstairs) and two bathrooms (one on each floor.) The problem is, upstairs there is a step down and then step up that is right by the stairs. If one was not careful on the way to a midnight potty run, they could literally fall down the stairs quite easily. When the father-in-law left, I looked at mom and told her I was worried about that, and she said she already planned to sleep on the couch. We will see how tonight goes.
In the meantime, I have to just tell you how delighted I am to finally have a bidet... I mean a ROOM... with a view.