God sometimes gives us unexpected gifts. Our gift has been a grandson who enlivens our lives and makes retirement very different than the one we anticipated. He is a special joy. And that's "Casey." In 2006 we fulfilled our dream of living in Italy for a year. It was every bit as wonderful as anticipated. This blog begins in 2005 as we prepared for that experience. Since then we have explored many places together. That's the "Travel." And finally, I am a person of opinions--spiritually, politically, on just about anything and that's the "Other Stuff." Welcome to my blog.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

At Home in Tuscany

We are in Montepulciano--at Sant' Antonio. We have been coming here since 2001--having missed just one year. This is a favorite place of ours for many reasons--first and foremost being Nico and his family. He has an infectious personality that draws in everyone he meets. He and his family have become like family to us. Casey and Sophia have been special to each other since they first met as little kids in 2003--Casey's first trip to Europe. I have shared this picture before but because it is so delightful--here it is again.

How can anyone resist the charm in this?

Of course, they are much more grown up now but I want to remember them like this. No shared language except that of children everywhere.

Because we have been here so many times, we now have the luxury of just kicking back and relaxing. We've been here since Saturday and have yet to hit the hill of Montepulciano. Tomorrow we will go as Ken needs a new wallet--to replace the one so expertly taken from his pocket in Nice. Maybe lunch at Aquachetta.

We have spent the bulk of our time sitting around the pool or other places on the property--soaking in the exquisite views of the Southern Tuscany landscape.

This is where we spend a lot of our time. Right outside the door to our apartment. It is quite heavenly.

Last night we went to a small little castle borgo--Monticchiello. We have always made a pilgrimage to a restaurant there called La Porta. It has very special memories for us. But, last night we decided to try Tarverna di Moranda which has been highly recommended by friends.

We were very pleased that we went there as the food was outstanding. I had carpaccio from the best beef in Italy--the white Chianina cattle--which is the best I have ever tasted. Following that I had grilled porcini mushrooms--so, so yummy.

Sadly we were the only clients there. As we talked with the owner, we learned that business is very, very down this year. We discovered that again today when we were in Montisi and in San Quirico where we had lunch yesterday at Ristorante Al Vecchi Forno

Ristorante Al Vechhio Forno

Business is in trouble all over Italy and Europe. The world wide economy is wrecking havoc on the small businesses--which is the norm here. Today we traveled to Montisi--maybe 20 minutes from Sant Antonio. A friend uses this little village as homebase for her tours so we wanted to explore it.

By the time we lazily made our way there, it was a ghost town as all was closed until later in the day. But, it is a charming village where one can really feel the Italia of the past--which wasn't always so charming as it is today.

We had lunch at a totally delightful taverna that I now truly recommend. da Roberto-Taverna Montisi. Roberto is a gentleman of the old order, fluent in English, loves what he does and takes great pride in the quality of what he offers. His guest book is rife with glowing testimonials both to the food and the man. Much of his food is grown right there on his property. Be sure to scroll down to the English version to read of Roberto's food philosophy. It will hook you.

We had a conversation with him about the current state of tourism and its affect on business. Simply stated--it is bad--down anywhere from 30 - 50%. Roberto predicts that many places will go out of business as they won't be able to survive until the world economy upturns. It is really concerning to both the local economy and people and to those of us who enjoy traveling.

Here's a quick slide presentation of Montisi and the Taverna.

There are many small villages such as Montisi here in Southern Tuscany--each offering delightful days spent in exploration and discovery.


Ann said...

Jane, so glad you're having your usual wonderful time at SA. I look forward to our return there in October, and we'll definitely try the trattoria in Montisi -- thanks for that recommendation. What a great contrast in the photos of Casey, who looks so grown-up now. Tell all "aloha" for us.

Nancy L said...


It's wonderful to read that you are back in Italy. Please give my best wishes to Casey and Ken.

Nancy L

nancyhol said...

What a wonderful relaxing time you are having! That is great!

One of these days (years), I want to go to Sant' Antonio too - it sounds like a little bit of heaven!

Rebecca said...

You have now put me into an official countdown for my Sant' Antonio visit next July. I'm keeping all your restaurant ideas in mind. I really hope they are all able to ride this economy out, although I'm sure that's a tough road. Can't wait to read more!

Sandrac said...

It looks so beautiful -- hope you're all having a wonderful time!

Anonymous said...

Jane, so glad to see that you are back in a place you all love. Enjoy every moment!

Gail Hecko said...

Jane, I'm so happy you enjoyed my village! It has a lot to offer. I am there often, so whoever is in the area, please feel free to contact me. My contact info is on the ST talk forum.
See more about Montisi at www.montisi.com.

Sandi @the WhistleStop Cafe said...

I loved seeing the photos of Montisi~ I'm glad you got to enjoy it.
Roberto is a part of the local 'charm'. I bet he and Ken hit it off!

Thanks for letting us follow along!