Content tagged with: travel to italy
Indulging in Travel to Italy – A Delicious Girlfriend Getaway
Tamara and me – we’re as different as different can be. She’s short, I’m tall. She likes bunnies and cats; I’m totally allergic. She has an iPhone; I have a Blackberry. She lives in Seattle, Washington in an enormous purple house in the middle of the city; I live in the suburbs of Sarasota, Florida in a ranch house that’s identical to every other house within a 50 mile radius.
Differences aside, we adore each other and are both girlfriend getaway fanatics. Not only that, but we happen to be two of the most opinionated, busy people that I know. So just imagine what it was like trying to plan travel to Italy together. Uh-huh.
We both had already given travel to Italy the college try, so were looking for a more complex and esoteric girlfriend getaway. Initially Tamara was all for scuba diving in Sardinia, but it turned out to be too complicated a trip. Then I decided that I wanted to go to a yoga retreat in the hills outside of Rome, combined with some agritourism. She didn’t want to do that out of fear that she might encounter a dead rabbit on her plate. Instead, Tamara decided that she wanted to feed a giraffe at the Rome zoo. Better not to ask. Point: We couldn’t agree on a girlfriend getaway that wouldn’t destroy our friendship...
Tune in tomorrow for the continuing saga of the Girls Gone Fabulous.
Girlfriend Getaway: Planned & Delivered
With help from Holiday Golightly, our travel to Italy, specifically travel to Tuscany and Umbria, took us on a grand adventure full of delicious food and unusual experiences that helped us escape from our lives and indulge in our friendship for a few days.
We landed in Rome, wandered the city for a few days, took the Rick Steve’s night walk about Rome,
ate in the remarkably fresh and organic Ristorante el Gabriello (think artichokes and lobster linguini) near the Spanish Steps and enjoyed the quaint, convenient Hotel Atlantico.
In an act of pure daring, we decided to rent a car...
and make our way through winding roads and hilly switchbacks to La Locanda del Capitano in Montone, Umbria for a culinary adventure.
Sure, we were an hour late after getting lost on the dark, windy roads of Umbria. But the 4-starish restaurant welcomed us with an incomparable feast, yoga clothes and all. Each course of local cuisine was delivered by the chef, Giancarlo, accompanied by his captivating poetry.
However, I must admit that the best part was when a neighboring diner asked us, “Are you special people? I thought perhaps you were famous American food writers…”
Giancarlo joined us for dessert and an aperitif. It felt like our 15 minutes of fame (of course, it was fame in a town of 1,555 people, most of whom were asleep by the time we arrived, but fame is fun all the same)...
Tune in tomorrow for the continuing saga of the Girls Gone Fabulous.
The Truffle Dance: Truffle Hunting & Truffle Cooking Class in Italy
After getting ever so slightly sloshed, we woke in the morning to a rainy day of truffle dancing. One piece of advice when it comes to travel to Italy: Do the truffle dance. It’s not cheap, but totally worth it. Apparently, truffles are the Viagra of Italy. Or perhaps of Italian millionaires, considering that the little turd-like fungus go for anywhere from $1800 - $2400 per pound.
We met our fearless truffle hunt leaders under a bridge in Citta di Castello, Umbria a few miles from Montone.
Not because they were trolls, mostly because they feared that based on our track record, that we might never find them. They drove us to a fenced truffle field full of oak and hazelnut trees, where we were met by our one-eyed guide and his truffle dog Asia.
The truffle hunt really is like a ritual dance. The dog dances around the field, starts digging up a truffle when she finds it, and the humans dance after her to capture the fungal gold before she masticates. We joined Saverio of truffle house Tartufi Bianconi, along with his translator Lena, and pretended to be truffle masters, running after the dog, identifying truffles and smelling them, learning about technique, scent and flavor.
Even more interesting than the truffles, was Lena herself. A sparkling 70-something Swedish immigrant to Italy, she learned most of her English from watching movies – especially musicals – in the 30s and 40s. Fascinated and restless in her Gore Tex raincoat and rubber boots with blue eye shadow and wind blown hair, the mama of four and grandmother of more was more like a seven year old than a septuagenarian.
After the hunt, they Lena and Saverio took us for cappuccino and a quick walking tour of the old city in Citta de Castello,
then off we went for our Corsi de Cucina Tartufo (that, my friends, is “truffle cooking class” in Italian ;) with the talented and lovely Gabrielle of Tartufi Bianconi. Before we set to cooking, Saverio and Gabrielle served us sparkling wine and truffled cheese with honey. They then took us on a short tour of their one-room truffle museum where we saw truffle flavored lip gloss and an enormous picture of a truffle pig.
After we’d relaxed for a bit, Gabriella, who has an intense sentimental fascination with the truffle, led us through the creation of what felt like a billion different truffle dishes. We made a bright, fresh cream of celery soup, a delicious egg flan, and homemade peasant pasta called frascatelli, polenta with truffle – and it didn’t stop there. A true adventure for the palate, by the time we left we could distinguish the flavors of white vs. black truffles and knew the ins and outs of truffle cookery. Gabriella gave us truffle cookbooks, sold us some bottles and jars of the earthy delicacy and sent us on our way. Thank god for denim with spandex. I would spend the rest of the trip in my favorite waistband-less travel pants.
Tune in tomorrow for the final chapter of the Girls Gone Fabulous.
Shopping in Florence, Italy – Last Stop on the Girlfriend Getaway Train
After another night – and another feast -
at La Locanda,
it was time to head to Tuscany. After a stop at the market in Arezzo, where we failed to find antiques but bought very cheap curtains for way too much money, we found our way to Florence.
After asking for directions thirteen times, we managed to drop our rental car without ending any lives and found our lovely bed and breakfast - located in the heart of the city.
The trip ended with some shopping in Florence, Tamara had her picture taken with a postcard of the Pope,
and we got ultra touristy. I finally found a handbag – lime green with purple inside – that was fun enough and flat enough to carry home. As all good girlfriend getaways must come to an end, Tamara dropped me at the train station to catch my flight back to Rome (which, of course, I missed). But we’re planning another one soon. Tonight! Can you say “Spa Day?!”
(Ed note: OR Spa Getaway)
Look out, Orlando, Florida. Here we come.
Many thanks to Sonia and Tam for sharing with us, and we hope we can plan another trip for you soon!
For those of you who are fans of "America's Next Top Model", and gasped in disbelief when you saw Tyra superimpose her own visage onto a photo of the Mona Lisa, we give you Tamara:
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