Father's Day - Italian Style
Trip Start Jun 02, 2013
23Trip End Jun 29, 2013
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This place is much more than meets the eye. First, it's in a rather out of the way location a few miles from any of the surrounding towns. It's an old farmhouse and the owners, Giancarlo and Luanna, live upstairs. Once you've parked your car in the gravel lot and walked through an outdoor seating area, you then walk into a smallish anteroom where the REAL experience begins. Giancarlo, the 84 year old owner with the eternal spark of life in his eyes, personally greets you with a glass of prosecco and leads you to a small counter where an assortment of breads, cheeses, salumi, olives, and more is laid out for your enjoyment
Next, we are escorted into the main dining room by Giancarlo's wife, Luanna. To say the room is eclectic is an understatement. Giancarlo has travelled extensively in the U.S. and his love for the States is reflected in the décor. He has stuffed every nook and cranny of the room with everything under the sun that he has collected during his visits, including life-size cardboard cutouts of himself. Oh, and he's got a thing for Christmas too! There are at least two fully decorated Christmas trees in the room as well. But, as overwhelming as all the glitz is, it is completely overshadowed by the service, dedication to excellence, and food that follow!
Once we are seated we are offered a "menu" of sorts - actually, it's more of a list of suggestions. The usual course of action here is to just let Giancarlo make all the decisions. Our only task is to decide whether we feel like seafood or meat. After clearing that hurdle, a bottle of house wine is uncorked, and the food starts flowing like water. We are treated to a series of 4 different antipasti plates - each more delectable than the last. Then comes a platter of polenta, creamy and perfectly flavored. Following that is a huge cutting board loaded with masterfully grilled meats - large chops of pork and veal, skewers of chicken, beef ribs, and sausages.
Throughout the meal we are attentively looked after by Luanna and Marco, their son, and as our dining experience winds down we are presented with espresso and an eye-popping dessert - a beautiful torte of strawberry, kiwi, and citrus
To complete our day we drive to the beautiful and classic Tuscan hilltown of Cortona, recently made famous by author Frances Mayes in her book Under The Tuscan Sun. But Cortona has been famous as a tourist destination longer than one might think. The French and English Romantics of the 18th and 19th centuries also considered it a popular destination. There are many picturesque gathering spots in the city, including Piazza Signorelli, Piazza della Repubblica, and Piazza Garibaldi, a large balcony-like structure which was built by the French during the Napoleonic Era providing a commanding view of the Tuscan countryside below. It was from vantage points like this that the Romantics painted their idyllic vision of Tuscany that we still enjoy today.
We spend the evening strolling from piazza to piazza along the Via Nazionale, visiting the shops that line the cozy promenade. Eventually we come upon the Gelateria Snoopy where we satisfy our daily craving. Walking back to our car we are treated to a beautiful sunset and rising moon over the city walls. God - Thank you for today!