Welcome to Italy-Part 1

The Cinghiale

The cinghiale, the wild boar of the Tuscan hills.   I fell in love with the cinghiale.  He was delicious!  But wait, I’m getting ahead of myself.

I just traveled to Italy with a group of ladies I will refer to as “The Happy Travelers.”  We arrived in Florence to 80 degree weather.  Our week for weather, and everything else, was just about perfect.  We set off on our culinary and sightseeing adventures with our driver taking us to a beautifully restored villa, Le Diacce in the heart of Chianti.  Specifically, we were close to the hamlet of Montegrossi and near the town of Gaiole in Chianti.  The property consists of many fine restored stone buildings owned by Franco and Franca Gatteschi, winemakers.   Franca is one of the Tuscan Mammas.

Le Diacce

View from my bedroom window

We were all a bit tired from the overnight flight and trudging through airports, but perked up quickly when we saw the villa with such beautiful grounds and scenery surrounding it. Upon our arrival, two of the Tuscan Mamma’s  were in our kitchen preparing our welcome meal.

I should explain that there are four Tuscan Mammas of the Tutti a Tavola.  www.tutti-a-tavola.com.  There is Franca, Mimma, Lele and Elissa.  We stayed on Franca’s property; drank her wine, Podere Ciona; had a lesson and tasting of olive oil at Muricciaglia, Mimma’s property; and cooked with all of them including Lele and Elissa on two separate evenings.    

Lele, Mimma, Franca & Elissa

We began our welcome meal outside on our lovely terrace with a Torta e porri – a leek tart, served with a glass of table wine from Podere Ciona.  We then moved into the dining room and proceeded to be served our orecchiette-“little ears” pasta along with broccoli-pesto style, with more wine.  We had a wonderful cheese with a special jam made by Lele.  Lastly for dessert, a pear tart, with more wine.  (www.podereciona.com)

Torta e porri

Orecchiette “little ears” broccoli pesto

Pear tart

OK, so this was all within the first 2 hours of arrival….I knew this was a trip all about food and fun, and it was off to a great start!

The general agenda for the week – (1) day trip to Siena; (2) day trip by train to Florence; (3) Olive oil tasting, to Castellina in Chianti, and first cooking lesson and dinner with the Tuscan Mammas-this day will be referred to forever as “The Cliffhanger”  (4) To market in Montevarchi, back to Radda in Chianti to Ceramiche Rampini –hand painted pottery, and then to Franca’s for wine tasting and second  cooking lesson and dinner;  (5) To Greve in Chianti, to Panzano in Chianti-lunch and lucky to meet a famous butcher, plus more wine tasting, to Volpaia for final cooking lesson at Castello di Volpaia; and, finally (6)  day trip to Pienza and a final dinner at Badia a Caltibuono-a very busy and ambitious schedule.

After our welcome lunch, we chose to unpack a bit and then take off to Badia a Coltibuono, an Abbey that is very close by, to explore and attend mass.


The Abbey – Badia a Coltibuono

After mass we had dinner reservations at Il Papavero in Gaiole in Chianti, where I fell in love with the cinghiale.  It was a delicious meal at the end of a very long day of travel.

pici a pappardelle al cinghiale

Panna cotta with chocolate sauce

Note to self:  Get nose strips for snoring.  When you travel with a group you never know what to expect.  My roommate was concerned that she was a loud snorer.  I told her not to worry, since I was accustomed to my husband’s noises and that I might snore a bit myself…but I didn’t think I did too much.  SURPRISE! I was informed at breakfast the next morning that I was the snorer and she did not sleep well at all….OOPS!  From that point on, she was my invisible roommate – she moved to another bedroom in the villa.

The Happy Travelers

Coming soon… Part 2 – Siena and I kissed the chef!

I am happy to receive comments. 

Ciao for now, Susan


10 thoughts on “Welcome to Italy-Part 1

  1. Susan –
    We haven’t met yet but I’m sure we will. I was on Michelle’s first tour with the Tuscan Mammas in April 2012. I loved seeing your pictures and can’t wait to hear/read all about your trip!

    Ciao –
    Sally (aka TravelGalSal)

  2. Susan, wasn’t it paradise ?? I’m reliving every moment with your fabulous accounting ! Again, my thanks for making this journey so totally spectacular!

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