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Thursday September 21, 2017
Posted: Aug 04, 2015

Italy diary: Food trucks, baby boars and beautiful views

Travel Talk

Day Six 

On our first trip to market day in Greve Square, we were in an apartment above the square in the village of Greve and had slept late after an all-night flight. When I opened the drapes, I was astonished to see the square filled with vendors. It was market day!

We’ve tried to make sure we are here on a Saturday, every time we come to Greve, because market day is a real treat. Vendors are set up all over the square selling everything from shoes and clothes to hardware and tablecloths to fresh vegetables and fruit.

Linda purchased lots of fruit and vegetables and at 11 a.m. we took the 15 minute walk back up the hill to our apartment to leave them there. We were changing apartments and our new one wasn’t ready yet, but it didn’t matter because we planned to hike back to the square for lunch.

A market highlight for us is the food truck, Market Rosticceria Porchetta, offering the world’s best pork sandwiches, lots of grilled meats, and plenty of sides including deep fried olives and French fries. The pork is plenty fresh, not surprising since they slice it off a whole pig that is draped over the far side of the truck!

travel talk day 6

We always have the pork sandwiches but this time Linda also suggested the French fries. I was skeptical. I didn’t come all the way to Italy to eat French fries, but I acquiesced and we ordered them. Without doubt, they were the best French fries I’ve ever eaten. We walked to a nearby square toting a bag with two cold beers, sat on a bench in the shade, and had a delightful lunch.

Another delightful dinner, thanks to Allessandro, who described Osteria Panzanelle in Lucarelli perfectly: great food, nice people, low prices. A 20 minute drive from our apartment in Greve — you would drive right by this place if you weren’t specifically looking for it. There is a sign, high on a tall building as you enter the small town of Lucarelli, but even though we were looking for it, we missed it on the first pass.

Fortunately, it takes less than 60 seconds to drive through the entire town, so we knew we’d missed it and backtracked and there it was, just opening for dinner at 7:30 p.m. We were the first guests and had our choice of sitting out on the veranda or inside, and we chose inside because the dining room is elegant.

We’re on a good streak now. This was our second restaurant in a row where the staff was very helpful and friendly. Because it was so inexpensive (6 euro), we ordered a full litre of the house rosso – and that turned out to be a mistake because, as Linda explained, that’s more than a quart. We did not drink it all, primarily because I had to drive back to our apartment. But the wine was really good – so good that I poured some of it on my bread, instead of olive oil. When Lin gasped, I tried to pretend it was not a mistake!

We shared a primi of Stracci di Pesticcia, short noodles with mushrooms and pork (8 euros), and a secondi of Parmigianadi melanzao, eggplant parm (12 euro), with a side of insulate misto (salad, 2.50). We are loving the fresh tomatoes here.

Both dishes were very good and the portions were large. They actually divided our dishes for us because we were sharing them — very thoughtful on their part. The primi’s meat-based sauce was wonderful, something we’d never had before.

By the time we finished eating, 9:30 p.m, the restaurant was packed and included many families with young children. This is another place where local people eat, although there were tourists here too. You can tell those of us who are tourists, because we’re always taking photographs! But Linda and I will not need photos to remember Osteria Panzanelle.

Day 7 

Well, we’d been here for nearly a week and hadn’t ventured more than 25 minutes away, so it was time for a road trip. Of course, our version of a road trip was a 45 minute drive to Montereggioni, a small historic walled town where we once rented a beautiful apartment.

First stop was Castellini, one of our favorite nearby towns, where we witnessed a wedding with the bride and groom exiting the church and getting showered with confetti – some of which exploded out of small packets.

travel talk day 7

We’d intended to lunch at our favorite restaurant there, Antica Trattoria La Torre, but with a pasta dinner ahead, we opted for pizza and beer on this very hot day. Il Fondaccio Dai Dottori has indoor and outdoor seating, and we enjoyed sitting outside shaded from the hot sun by an umbrella. Service was friendly (we’re on a streak now!), and the thin-crust pizzas were large and delicious. The cold beer really hit the spot too. We’d had an early morning walk, up above Montefioralle, to a lovely secluded pond high on a hill, and we were famished by lunch time.

A 15 minute drive south brought us to Montereggioni, where you park outside the walls and hike up the hill and into the town. We reminisced about our stay here, took lots of photos, and walked the ancient walls before enjoying delicious gelatos. Got back to Il Santo about 4:30 p.m., jumped in the pool to cool off, and relaxed.

Linda made an awesome pasta dinner with a fresh salad. The “Pasta Man” provided the pasta and meat sauce and it was as good as any we’ve enjoyed in restaurants here.

Day 8

Just after we went to bed, we heard something scratching at the earth outside our windows. Pulling the curtain and pointing the flashlight out onto the lawn, we were astonished to see eight baby wild boars! Two adults stood by in the shadows.

We watched the little ones for a while. They are very cute, brown with light stripes. One was scratching his back, then his bottom, on the edge of the flat stone that surrounds the flower garden.

From ITV Studios WILD BRITAIN WITH RAY MEARS Ep 10  Friday 16th December on ITV1 Ray Mears revisits his personal highlights from the first two series of Wild Britain. Travelling the length and breadth of the country Ray has explored Britain’s wildest and most beautiful habitats from the sea lochs of the Outer Hebrides to the chalk grasslands of Sussex. Meeting amongst others wild boar; short-eared owl; badger; a rare spider and the secretive capercaillie Ray shares our country’s most fascinating fauna and flora and shows why his favourite place in the world to view wildlife is home in Britain. PICTURED: Wild Boar piglets in the Forest Of Dean  (C) ITV  For further information please contact  Peter Gray  peter.gray@itv.com 0207 157 3046  This photograph is (C) ITV Plc and can only be reproduced for editorial purposes directly in connection with the programme or event mentioned above, or ITV. Once made available by ITV Plc Picture Desk, this photograph can be reproduced once only up until the TX date and no reproduction fee will be charged. Any subsequent usage may incur a fee. This photograph must not be syndicated to any other publication or website, or permanently archived, without the express written permission of ITV Plc Picture Desk. Full Terms and conditions are available on the website www.itvpictures.com

When an ambulance dashed by, lights flashing and horns blowing, the mothers rounded up the youngsters and dashed up the driveway. Exciting!

Years ago we had a wonderful lunch at La Cantinetta di Rignana, but the ride up through the hills was so difficult we never went back. Today, I actually enjoy driving those roads. So back we went and it was just as good – actually even better – than we remembered.

They have one table in the middle of the outside deck that is in a private sheltered enclave, further forward than all the other tables. It is beautiful.

We ordered a bottle of the house wine, Rignano Rosso (12 euros), and began our feast with a primi of Pappardelle @ Cinghiale (10 euros) – yes, my fourth for this dish, but Linda’s first, because we shared it. We also had an Insalata verde o mista (5 euros – a salad) with our primi. Salads are generally served in Italy at the end of a meal, and you have to ask for it to be served earlier. We often do.

This was the best pasta with wild boar sauce I’ve had this trip – and no, I didn’t connect it to those darling baby wild boars we saw last night! There were large chunks of meat with the sauce, the first time I’ve encountered that in this dish. And they were delicious.

travel talk day 8

We shared the primi because we wanted to have a secondi. We ordered Galletto rusponte (14 euros) – chicken grilled over a wood fire – and roasted potatoes (5 euros). Best potatoes ever, salty with a nice crust but soft inside, and very tasty chicken. When we were nearly finished eating, half of the potatoes remained, so I asked if we’d be bringing them back to the apartment. Linda said no, so I ate all the rest of them!

I can’t begin to describe the setting, the view from our table, sitting there mesmerized by the beauty. Even the hummingbird moths in the blossoms of the flowers surrounding our table were beautiful. After two hours, we were pleased to find we’d only spent 54 euros, a bargain for a meal of this quality.

Before we left to walk down the hill into the valley below, we made a reservation for lunch on Thursday, same time, same table.

Read the previous installment of George Smith’s Italy diary here. Future installments will be posted later.

 

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