A Suburban City Girl in A Small Town

Moment by moment……

My Italia – Part Three: Tuscany

on January 17, 2013
Corporal of Bolsena

Corporal of Bolsena (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Tuscany. The land of wine. Over the years, artists have tried to capture the exquisite beauty of this rolling country. I thought they had until…. 

We drove up a winding driveway to our hotel, Villa Ambra, on a dusky evening. The gentleman who checked us in also happened to be the owner so we knew right away we were in good hands. Villa Ambra is probably the most charming hotel I have ever stayed at in my life. The wine was delicious, made from homegrown vines. The olives were not only grown on site but sent out for the first press (which is the purest). The food was all homemade. I had my first taste of rabbit and duck – both succulent. They served something called bread soup which was exactly that – a soup soaked up into bread. Divine! 

One thing I forgot to mention when talking about Rome was the fish place we went to for fried fish. The restaurant didn’t look like much from the outside but inside – heaven wrapped in paper awaited. Our meal was simply one rather large piece of fish deep-fried to golden perfection, a salad and a glass of red wine, from the tap! I’m not a huge fish-eater but this fish was delicate, tender, flavorful and melted in your mouth. I’ve wanted it ever since but unfortunately, I’ve not been able to find a place that does it like they did it. Perhaps when I’m in England and Ireland this fall, I will find equally delicious fish and chips. 

Digression over now – back to Tuscany. When I started this article, I said artists have tried to capture the beauty of this part of the country. ‘Tried’ is as close a term as can be used. Tuscany is simply breathtaking. We visited a little tiny town called Orvieto in Umbria. We parked below, took about 6 escalators to get to the “tram” that took us up the rest of the hill. We walked the streets of this quaint, little town that seemed to hiding away from the hustle and bustle of every day hectic life. Brick buildings, tiny alleyways, uneven streets, restaurants carved out of the earth itself and the best white wine ever earmarked this town. We were only there one day but it was enough. I remember almost jumping for joy when tourist came up to me asking me questions about the town, as though I were a resident. It’s always good to shake off the dust of tourism and blend in with the local populace. 

At this town’s center was its cathedral. Tall and magnificent  it almost looked out of place. The cathedral in Orvieto is home to the Corporal of Bolsena. The story behind it is about a traveling priest who doubted the transformation of the host into the body of Christ until the host began to bleed and stained the altar cloth. This is located in a chapel off-sides within the Cathedral and it moved the soul to see something so historical. While sitting there, we admired the huge organ and hoped to hear it play. As if on command, it roared to life, resonating off the stone walls and lifting up towards the stained glass windows, filling the cathedral with the most beautiful music I’d ever heard. It was truly one of the most poignant moments. 

Several little nuns all dressed in traditional grey habits peppered the town. Short, sweet and speaking French, they walked quickly back to the tram with us and crowded as many of they could into the tramcar. A few got stuck in the turn-style and those watching laughed, their little high-pitched “hee hees” filling the car. I almost expected them to break out into song. Truly enjoyable! 

The next town we visited was Montepulciano. Located on a ridge in Siena, this town was one long, uphill climb to the top. Like Orvieto, there were little houses complete with flowers outside of the windows and tiny alleyways so there was a lot to see and do and many places to eat along the way. However, once you reached the top, the view of Tuscany was amazing! I saw all the rolling hills and the varying green and brown hues of the fields. I stepped to the edge, momentarily overcoming my fear of heights for a moment like that was not to be passed. No artist has ever done Tuscany the justice of the true beauty it holds. It was just breathtaking!

Walking down Montepulciano is just as hard walking up. As we had to put more money in the parking meter, we walked down and back up to the very top again where we had a lovely meal, gorgeous wine and stunning eggplant. The food did not disappoint. On our way out, I made a purchase on my own, once again taking pride in my fearlessness to attempt to communicate in a language I did not understand. 

Arriving back at our hotel each night, we had a lovely meal in the dining room before retreating to our rooms to rest up for the next day’s adventures. There was a man, a guest, who reminded me of Luciano Pavarotti. I remember laughing and pointing him out to my dad because this man never stopped talking. He also never stopped eating. I assumed it was all part of the Italian charm and a talent to eat and talk at the same time gracefully. The next morning, while checking out, this man sat with me in the parlor and attempted to chat me up. Ahhh, God bless my lack of Italian!!!! 

We boarded our car for the fourth and final leg of our trip…..Torino!

 

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