My first group of guests left today — driving to the Rome airport at 6:30 am for their flight back to the US. We had a wonderful week and I will miss them all so much!
Spent the morning changing sheets, putting new towels in the bathrooms, and just generally straightening up for the next wave of visitors who will arrive late this afternoon. Jim and Shannon from Atlanta and Judy and Tim from Tehachapie, north of LA.
Saturday has turned out to be another day when the group has split up to go different directions. Kate, Jonathan and Thierry went to Orvieto by train to have a family day and ride the funicular to the top of the hill. Toni and Fred returned to Cortona to spend a relaxed day in that lovely hill town. Alex, Lucas and Barb opted for a quiet day at the villa, packing in preparation for an early start back to the airport tomorrow morning. I stayed with them to do some reading, practice my singing, and just generally hang out.
Around noon, the four of us decided we needed a gelato break, so we drove into Camuchia to find a gelateria and enjoy one last cup or cone before they all return to the US. The gelato here is so wonderful — very flavorful, and the fruit flavors are particularly delicious. Today I had cherry, but in Rome, I had a melon gelato that was heavenly.
Everyone is planning to return by 4 pm so we can enjoy an early dinner together and drink some of the wine we brought back with us from Wednesday’s vineyard outing. Kate and Jonathan are planning a seafood pasta that should be yummy, and I’ll make some pesto and tomato bruschetta to go with.
After the busy week we’d had, I decided to spend Friday by myself. Kate and Jonathan went off to Sienna by car, while Toni, Fred, Alex, Lucas and Barb took the train to Florence. I stayed home and did laundry, hiked, read my book, took a nice soaky bath, a nap,and posted lots of updates to this blog.
Kate and Jonathan returned earlier than expected and Kate whipped up a lovely light pasta dish for the three of us for dinner.
The Florence group had a good day, but disappointingly, many of the museums were closed because of a strike, so they couldn’t see some of thE sights they’d planned on. Still, they had a great time, and the train trip to and from was exciting for the boys.
The group got back fairly late, but we fed everyone and hustled the boys off to bed, and the adults followed suit not too much later.
Thursday was quite a gastronomic adventure. Toni, Jonathan’s mom, treated Kate and me, herself and her husband, Fred, to a cooking lesson. We met our teacher and host, Alessandra at 9:30 at a coffee bar and discussed the menu over cappuccino. Then she took us shopping at three different shops — one for dry goods, a butcher for the sausage and prosciutto, and another for the fresh produce for the meal. Then we drove to her home, where we spent the day preparing and eating the different dishes, one course at a time.
We started with an antipasta plate of cheese,mortadella, salami, and prosciutto- wrapped honeydew melon. And a zucchini frittata. Then we made ravioli stuffed with potato and sausage, but before we cooked the pasta, we made and ate a fabulous mushroom risotto. Then the ravioli, and finally, molten chocolate cakes with fresh peach slices.
We began cooking the meal at 1 pm, ate the first course at 3 pm and finished off the cakes with small glasses of limoncello or grappa at about 8 pm. An amazing day of wonderful food and conversation — thank you to our host Alessandra, and to Toni for choosing this treat! /p>
On Wednesday,In the morning I drove into Cortona to meet my friend Liz who is from Boston, but has been at a conference in Italy. We hadn’t seen each other in about ten years and had a lovely time catching up over cappuccino and a walk around the city.
In the afternoon, Kate treated the girls (Alex and Barb) and me to a shared birthday celebration at a vineyard in the Chianti region. We drove up twisty-turny roads through beautiful hillsides to reach the Monterinaldi vineyard — a small family-owned boutique place where we had a tour of the property and a wine-tasting, hosted by the very charming Mauro. All in all, a lovely and relaxing day!
We fit as much into one day as possible, starting with a guided tour of the Coliseum which took us down into the lower tunnels and up to the topmost level. Then walked about 5 miles to visit Trajan’s column, the Pantheon, the Trevi Fountain, and Vatican City to see Michaelangelo’s ceiling and the Last Judgment in the Cistine Chapel. We also managed to fit in two meals and some gelato along the way. A very full day, but definitely worth the walking!