Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Biking in Tuscany! Followed by Barfing in Tuscany!

On our last day in Florence we met our "I Bike Tuscany" guide near our hotel and she drove us out to San Donato in Poggio, a small Middle aged village between Florence and Siena.  We were surprised to see that it was just Darryl and I and our guide, so we would essentially be getting a private tour.  Beyond being a serious biker, she was also a licenced sommelier, which in Italy is a 3 year program of study.  Score!

Walking to check out the church

Watching mass from the doorway
Tuscan hillside vistas

Ready to ride
You know what is a lovely concept?  A leisurely bike ride winding through the Tuscan hillside.  No dreadful giant buses.  No monstrous sized tour groups you have to fight your way through to the front to hear the guide.  No packed wine tasting rooms.  Yes, this was going to be glorious.  You know what I didn't count on folks?  Tuscany is hilly as a mother effer.  And bike riding....well whoever said "it's just like riding a bike" is an asshole, because I forgot. 

Entering the first winery with our guide
I'm not sure what was wrong with me that day beyond the fact that I was riding a bike in Hilly McHilltown, but I guess I didn't eat enough for breakfast because I got queasy.  So queasy that a few times I had to stop climbing the hill, get off the bike and walk, and then collapse in a heap at the top of the hill, chugging water, contemplating my nausea.  But, never under estimate the things that motivate this woman.  Motivator numero uno, wine.  So onward I pressed to the first winery, Casa Emma.

Wines and Olive Oil at Casa Emma

Our guide handed us off to the Casa Emma guide and as soon as I got off the bike, I knew things were bad.  I couldn't even stand up straight.  I was mentally considering finding a tree to crawl under and die.  But there was wine inside friends, WINE!  My determination for wine tastings knows no bounds.  I even went wine tasting in New Zealand one time with the flu.  The flu!  So onward we pressed.  As soon as we got inside the cool wine cellar, I'm not sure if it was the temperature change or the smells of French oak barrels and the particular musk of a wine cellar that I normally find so delightful, but I knew it was game over.  I interrupted our guide mid-tour (we were the only two on the tour so super awkward) and announced I needed to sit.  They ran to get me a glass of water, but by then it was too late, stomach contents were on their way up.  I grabbed D and told him to find me a restroom.  Of course the only one there was one on the other freaking side of the winery.  Let's just say I made it just in time to revisit my breakfast in the toilet. 
Feeling better, look at the wine I earned!
My husband, laughing at me

Instantly I felt better.  They told me they thought I had a low blood sugar attack and their solution?  Handing me a glass of dessert wine with a higher sugar content.  Italy, I like your style.

Ever the trooper and fortified by our first wine tasting, we got back on the bikes and rode to the next winery.  And I did much better, didn't have to get off and walk a single hill.  May have put it in the lowest year and furiously pumped my legs while going slower than walking on one, but I made it and I'm so glad I did, this winery was even better than the first. 
The second winery had a luxury villa you could rent a room in

Not dead!
Hubs and some casks
Olive oil press
Our second stop was Villa Montecchio for a light lunch of cured meats, white beans in olive oil and tomatoes in olive oil.  They gave me the recipe for their tomatoes in olive oil, which were AMAZING!  Something I will totally attempt to make.  The olive oil that they made on site was fabulous and totally key to the recipe, so of course I bought a big bottle to bring home as well as some of their wine.  I was really impressed at the age of the winery, the vines, their cellar.  It was very different from any winery I'd ever been to, it was amazing.

After lunch the guide offered to take us riding more.  I told the hubs I was up for another round, but mercifully he said he'd had enough for one day, so we headed back to Florence for a little nap to recover before dinner.

For dinner we went to Antica Trattoria "da Tito" dal 1913, this lovely little restaurant around the corner from our hotel.  It was recommended by our hotel and was ranked the #12 restaurant in all of Florence so we decided to check it out.  We knew it was going to be good because we had to wait over an hour for a table, which wasn't a problem, because we just strolled back to our hotel and lazed around until going back an hour later.  It was a great little spot, not many tourists.  Our hotel was away from the main tourist traps of Florence, in a lovely little neighborhood to the north of the main tourist areas in a more residential area, which I loved being able to escape the tourist scene.

Our first course was bresaola wrapped around blue cheese with walnuts.  I will definitely be attempting to replicate this at home, is was fabulous!
Bresaola stuffed with blue cheese and walnuts

Zucchini flower risotto for my dinner

Fried chicken with fried zucchini flowers

1 comment:

Christine said...

Holy crap that fool looks amazing. And I would like to think I am just as motivated by wine. Well played my friend, well played.