Somewhere between San Gimignano and Lucca we stopped at this road-side restaurant/bar/rest stop and for about $5 i had some of the best hot chili flake pasta I had ever eaten.
This is a view from inside the under ground city of Perugia. We were in this town for only one night but we wandered through hallways and up escalators, through an evening market where local wine and cheese makers were sampling their products. Amazing, but quite smelly. Undergroud Italian cheese can be POTENT! In Perugia I also had the most delicious truffle pate I will ever eat, about $200 of it! If you don't know me personally you may wonder what exactly I do that I am able to travel and get paid for it... I work for Villas of Distinction (http://www.villasofdistinction.com/) as a Concierge. When we go on these trips, we spend most of our time viewing the private homes that we rent, sounds amazing, and it is, but after the 30th flight of stairs for the day, you start to get tired of it. The above picture is a view from a villa we sell called "The Lakes" in San Gimignano. These are man-made lakes in the middle of what looks like Sonoma County x 10,000, with better food.
This is what I mean...
We didn't get to go into any of the famous churches and museums in Florence or Siena, but we did stop in one small church. Kim, my amazing and huge-hearted co-worker and friend, got us each a candle to light and make a prayer. That is what I love about Kim, I have never met anyone in my life who has made spirituality her own in such a special way. She is an Italian Catholic to the core and the conversations I've had with her about signs, angels, prayers, etc. have been some of my most inspiring. When you look at the town of Siena, it looks like buildings on top of buildings all growing higher from the town center, it is jaw-dropping.
This was in the office of one of our suppliers Italy, there were multiple office kitties and I LOVED it!
Yes, there was LOTS of gelato everywhere in Italy and no, none of it was dairy free. P.S, don't ask a local if something is vegan or not or you'll be treated like you're 100% insane.
The garden below was on the property of one of the villas that we went wine tasting at. These lemon trees are over 100 years old and each pot is numbered. In the winter the sensitive citrus trees have their own house on the property where they live and are tended to until the spring when they are put back out in that exact same spot (hence the number) as the year before and every year before that. These trees will keep on living in this same way for at least another hundred years, or until they stop producing fruit. These guys are the dedicated grounds keepers that keep this process up, the same way their fathers and grandfathers have; every generation living on this property. After 1 or 2 generations, the head grounds keepers are given a home on the property that is theirs to own and therefore, the tradition keeps moving forward.
Below is a man working in one of the many wineries that we visted. Wine making and Olive oil production in Italy is very different than in Sonoma and Napa. The tools they use are sometimes hundreds of years old (see the terracotta pots below used for holding the oil while the particals settle) and the people making the products have been doing this all their lives, the way their fathers, mothers, grandfathers and grandmothers have. It is a true honor to see them work.
Lucca was one of my very favorite places we visited, partially because it is a city FULL of dogs! They were everywhere!
This is also a shot from the gardens of one of the houses we rent, simply gorgeous.