When I had first heard that the majority of my time in Tuscany was anticipated to have rain, I felt a little bit bummed. But then it hit me. . .cold, chilly, rainy weather. . .there is really 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. Yep, the rain in Tuscany was going to be pretty perfect.
watching the rain come pouring down just outside of my window
So with all of the rain that did in fact come, I just made a point to get nice and cozy in all of the local osterias, trattorias and cafés.
But feeling like I should make use of an empty Saturday, I decided to make one more 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 it is Florence after all. And there isn’t much more that I need than just the city itself.
In fact, the rain in Florence provided me with a delightfully quiet Saturday in the city; which normally would have been flooded with tourists.
I wanted to make the most of my day, and so I essentially planned to make all of the same stops as my quick layover, but with a few added destinations. The most important one being Trattoria Mario. I missed them last August because they were closed for vacation, and so I have been basically waiting for this meal ever since.
Like any amazing restaurant in Italy, it has homey, traditional food; cheap, amazing wine; and everything is prepared with such love and pride that you taste it in every bite.
I started with the rigatoni with Tuscan ragù 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 request it every single day. The beef is so melt in your mouth, and coated in the most richly reduced red wine and peppercorn sauce. It is one of those dishes that you take a bite of and immediately say, “mhhhhhh.”
Aside from enjoying the food and wine in Tuscany, I have been trying to think of what travel advice I wanted to share with you all. And then it finally 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. 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.
nougatine gelato. . .my new favorite
Before I knew it, my stay in Tuscany had come to an end, and so it was time for one last lunch. And so of course I chose my favorite, Osteria Aquachetta. Aside from loving the food, the owners had remembered me from my last visit, and had been so happy to see me return; which honestly both surprised me and made me feel pretty special. However, Chiara did remind me that I had eaten there almost every day 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 truly the perfect backdrop for a long relaxed meal, and for steak. Yes, most definitely a bistecca for my final meal. But first, I started with a (small) portion of the most melt in your mouth lasagna al forno, 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 had let me sit there all day, I just might have been able to finish it all.
Sides? Of course. Pan-fried potatoes and artichokes, and the melanzane parmigiana. Which by the way, was absolutely the best parmigiana that I have ever had. I even brought the leftovers home 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), Chiara 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 one final stroll in the rain. Would I have preferred sunshine? Sure. But I couldn’t have imagined a better send off.