No better place to wait out the rain than in Tuscany. At first I felt a little sad to hear that the majority of my time in Tuscany was anticipated to have rain. But then it hit me…cold, chilly, rainy weather…no better way to enjoy a rainy day then to be sitting inside a cozy osteria, enjoying a glass of Vino Nobile, and tucking into a plate of pasta or a steak, or basically anything Tuscan. Yes, that is my idea of a perfect rainy day.
watching the rain pour down outside my window
So with all of the rain that did come, I just made a point to get nice and cozy in the local osterias, trattorias and cafés.
Feeling like I should make use of an empty Saturday, I decided to make another quick getaway to Florence. Florence in the rain? Well, wandering the streets of Florence in the rain might not be as enjoyable as sitting in a cozy osteria, but…but…it is Florence after all. And without a doubt I made the most of my rainy day. How? With good food of course. I have found that there are essentially 2 reasons to come to Tuscany, to eat and to drink.
A rainy day in Florence, however, did provide me with a delightfully quiet Saturday in the city, which normally would have been flooded with tourists.
I essentially planned to make all of my same stops as my quick layover, but with a few added destinations, the main attraction being Trattoria Mario. I missed them last August because they were on vacation, and felt a little heartbroken, so I have been quite ready for this meal. Trattoria Mario is the kind of place that you go to, and immediately try to plan out your next visit.
Like any amazing trattoria or osteria in Italy, it has homey food, cheap amazing wine, and everything is prepared with love and pride that you taste and feel in every bite.
Rigatoni with Tuscan ragu as my savory warm up to the main event….peposo al mano…..beef braised in red wine. I swear that if I could recreate this recipe, my husband would literally request it every single day. The beef is melt in your mouth, coated in the most richly reduced red wine and peppercorn sauce. It is one of those dishes that you take a bite and just go…“mhhhhhh.” (But on the flip-side, I think that I have been feeling that for just about everything that I have eaten these past few weeks.)
Aside from enjoying the food and wine in Tuscany, I have been trying to think what travel advice I wanted to share. And finally it hit me, wander. Tuscany is all about relaxation and enjoying the moment. So, wander. Wander the streets and relish in all of the beautiful architecture and craftsmanship. Wander and listen to the birds or to the locals gossiping. Wander and find a tiny shop serving up mortadella panini. Wander and just follow what you feel inspired by…whether it be food, art, wine, architecture, nature or just relaxation, you will without a doubt find it in Tuscany.
nougatine gelato…my new favorite
But alas my time in Tuscany had come to an end, and so it was time for one last day, and one last lunch. And of course, I chose my favorite, Osteria Aquachetta. Aside from loving the food, the owners remembered me from my last visit, and had been so happy to see me return, which both surprised me and tickled me. However, Chiara did remind me that I had eaten there almost everyday on my last trip, so how could she forget me?
pears baked in pecorino
On this last day in Montepulciano, it was raining (again), but it was the perfect backdrop for a long relaxed meal, and steak. Yes, most definitely a bistecca for my final meal. I started with a (small) portion of the most melt in your mouth lasagna al forno. Between layers of homemade pasta, either ragu or besciamella. Each bite better than the last.
And then of course, the steak. So juicy, so tender, so flavorful, and so carefully prepared. Each bite more and more savory. If they let me sit all day, I might be able to finish it.
Sides? Of course. Pan-fried potatoes and artichokes, and the melanzane parmigiana. (Which, by the way, was the best I have ever had.) I even brought home the leftovers to Fiorella who was equally impressed.
Dessert? When in Rome! Torta cioccolato. Dense chocolatey gooey goodness served with a coconut whipped cream. I could only stomach a bite or two, but it was the perfect end to a perfect meal.
Funny enough the couple next to me commented that I didn’t eat very much. I literally laughed out loud. I don’t think that they must have noticed all of my courses.
With absolutely no room left for food (probably for the next few days), they offered me coffee or grappa, but no, no room left for anything.
After saying my goodbyes and sharing my gratitude for once again feeding me so well throughout my time in Montepulciano, I bundled up and headed out for a final stroll in the rain. Would I have preferred sunshine? Sure. But I can’t imagine a better send off.