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Tuscany: The Last Gathering
by Don and Peg Doman
Our last full day in Tuscany was us packing, cleaning up and eating left-overs. There were also food supplies that we weren’t going to haul around in our bags, so it was just easier to eat them.
Several of us went to Poggibonsi to visit the Rossana Bar and their internet connection. Just down the street from the bar Sue and Debbie bought dessert for the evening meal. We already purchased onions and mushrooms for a faux frittata as the dinner center piece.
When we returned to The Castello di Pastine, Peg and I decided to go out to lunch. Rob said, “What? Another two-hour lunch?” I said, “Why not? I came to Italy to eat Italian food.” Actually, I came for more than that, but food is so much of the culture . . . and we enjoy it so much.
Again, we were not disappointed. We visited Antica Osteria Di Vico. Just out the gate, turn right, go down a few valleys and up a few hills and we were there. We sat outside (big surprise). There is full seating inside, but outside it is just so wonderful. There is a cooling breeze and the roses were in bloom. Why go in?
In the courtyard there was an amorous young couple at one table, a middle-aged couple sat at another table, and two gentlemen with several bottles of wine sat at a third. It was a lovely afternoon.
Lucia, welcomed us and sat us down. We looked over the menu, but I knew what I wanted for lunch. I was still kicking myself for not ordering the artichoke lasagna that Deb had a day or two earlier. That was number one on my list. We also ordered an appetizer, which contained a bowl of their tomato and bread soup, bruschetta, two slices of frittata, prosciutto, salami, cheese, and a small sampling of rum and pear jam.
The soup was just as wonderful as it was the first time I had tasted it. The bread with a little slice of cheese, smeared with the rum and pear jam was excellent. It was an unexpected treat. The jam was good with bread, with cheese alone, and wasn't bad when all three were combined.
We washed the appetizers down with a combination of beer, wine, and Coca Cola Lights . . . we’re Americans . . . what can I say?
We presented Lucia with both Mountain Bars and Almond Roca from Brown & Haley to thank her for her help with our dining choices over the previous two weeks. She was pleasantly surprised.
Near the end of the meal one of the gentlemen we had seen earlier at a nearby table came over and asked where we were from. His name is Carlo and he's second generation Italian-American. He asked how we had found our way to this restaurant. We mentioned that we were staying just up the road at Pastine and that we had dined there several times. “They have great food here,” he said. We agreed.
Carlo is from Denver. His father left Italy just a step or two in front of the Facists, who had already confiscated much of his property. Carlo still sees palaces around Florence with his family name on them. His father went to Canada first and then onto Hollywood where he painted scenes on canvas for the film industry. Carlo imports wine from his cousin. The cousin joined us for a few minutes as well. The vineyards around the Di Vico belong to his family. We asked about the weather and rain. Carlo said that we were enjoying July weather, which was not good for the grapes. Rain was needed. It looked like rain was coming, but the cousin thought that it wouldn’t provide much moisture. He was correct. A few minutes after Carlo and his cousin left it started to rain. Although there were long peels of thunder from the darkened skies, the rain was brief. The middle-aged couple moved inside, while Peg and I stayed in the courtyard. Being from the Pacific Northwest in America we are used to rain, cool weather, and a little wind. Unless the water isn't hitting us directly we are usually pretty comfortable being outside and enjoying nature.
Finally, Peg and I went inside to look around and pay our bill. We should have looked around on earlier visits. There was a cabinet filled with jars of exotic sounding foods. We purchased a few jars of their jelly and jams. Lucia also gave us some samples. I think two jars actually made it home. The pepper jam was sharp and sweet.
Peg and I returned to Pastine where some of our friends had left for one last drive around Tuscany. They found a leather outlet store and bought presents for loved ones.
That evening we enjoyed dinner on the terrace. We had many toasts and combined our last evening with birthdays, anniversaries, and the joy of celebrations in general. We had a marvelous time. Bailey’s Irish Cream and most of the wine were easily consumed.
The next day Guido came to see us off and return our deposits. Rob drove us to the train station in Poggibonsi and then he, Vickie, Randy, and Sue drove the two rental vehicles back to Florence. There weren’t many tears, but there was a lot of hugging as we parted. So ended our dream come true.
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