Carl and I flew into Milan and then took the speed train to Florence. Just a note, if you want to do this plan ahead. You will need to get to the main train station in downtown Milan to catch the train. Allow at least 1 1/2 hours. We took the shuttle bus for $8 each instead of 120 euro taxi. The bus is fast and very clean.
We arrived in Florence, walked a couple of blocks and picked up our rental car. Our friends live close to the beautiful resort, Costello di Casole in the Siena region about 90 minute drive from Florence. Since we were staying with friends our days were planned around where our next lunch was. We fixed dinner at home and talked about what the next day would be.
On the first afternoon we drove to the village of Volterra for a great lunch at Borge Pignano, villapigano@ borgopigano.com, if you are any where close this hotel and restaurant is a must. The grounds/ gardens and amazing pool carved into the rock is a perfect hideaway. Manager Angelo Pais is there to take care of every detail and the chef created an amazing lunch.
The next day we drove to Siena, wandered through the streets and after a visit to the Duomo, a must if you are in town. Then we had lunch at a charming 75 year old restaurant “Osterisa Le Logge, Via del Porrione 33” just off the main square. The food was the old style of local dishes, all perfectly prepared and served.
After these great 3 hour lunches our simple low key dinners on the outside deck watching the sunsets was the perfect way to end the day. Ready for the next day adventure to explore a new village and share another lovely lunch. We drove to the village of “Colle de Val d’ Elsa. Our lunch at IL Frantoio was clean simple Italian fare. This is the village that you will find the famous Lotti terra-cotta cookware firstname.lastname@example.org. This village is also the place you will find the famous stared restaurant a”Adalfo”.
The last night we had dinner in Castillo di Casole, they have a menu with many American favorites in the bar with an Italian flair. The next morning we headed north, the area of Parma is where we have long time friends that welcomed us for a short 3 days of food, conversation and exploring new restaurants in the region. After dinner at home and a good nights sleep we headed to the town of Cremona. We visited the Museum of Violins, lunch at a The Tavern La Botte just down the street was a nice local restaurant with lovely home made pasta and soup. After wandering through the town of Fidenza where our friends live and a couple hours of rest we drove to the town of Busseto to a great fish restaurant “L’ Araba Fenice”. If you are in the area this is an excellent choice for dinner, no fancy decor but excellent food.
A great experience the next day was the opportunity to visit a “Labyrinth in the village of Fontanellato. This experience was something we don’t get to try figuring out how to navigate the hidden paths,in the U.S. something like this is known to most of us as a maze. Libirinto@francomariaricci.com, is created as a huge maze of paths winding through tall stands of bamboo. When you make your way to the end, if you get lost the have a help number posted in several places, you can enter the museum of the art collected owned and created by Franco Rocci. You can enjoy lunch at the Labyrinth, but we suggest going to La Forcheta Ala in Fontanellato. Chef owner Chiuso Matedi is there to greet you and promises to bring you the best frito misto and Pizza in Italy. With great memories and a fond farewell to our week in Italy we headed back to the airport in Milan.