THE BEST OF THE BEST IN LUCCA
Go Truffle Hunting in Umbria!
Whether you spend the night in Città di Castello or make an early morning drive to the city you will start your morning with a farmer and his dog. You’ll spend an hour or so searching for truffles and, believe it or not, you will find truffles, for the farmer knows just where to look for them. After ‘the hunt’ you’ll head to Tartufi Bianconi and participate in a cooking demonstration where truffles are used in every dish. Best of all, you’ll then enjoy a truffle-filled sit-down meal where even the dolce is truffle infused.
Stefano del Piano, n 21, Città di Castello, Perugia 06012 www.tartufibianconi.it
Head to the Hills, The Garfagnana Mountains
Casa Del Pescatore, in the heart of Isola Santa, 39 018 7965 543
Around 90 minutes away is the incredible town of Isola Santa. In it’s heyday, it was home to over 300 residents, but due to flooding the town became abandoned, except for one wonderful restaurant, Da Giullio, now Casa Del Pescatore, and a handful of vacation rentals. Isola Santa sits on a beautiful, serene body of water and Chef Gabrielle is known for his truffles and porcini, as well as his roasted meats. Do call ahead to ensure that the restauant is open and enjoy a wonderful meal in a idyllic setting. Plan an morning getaway and stop at the lovely hill town of Barga, where you can climb to the top and take in the stunning mountain views, strolling back to your car at the bottom of the hill town.
Swim in the Ligurian Sea
via San Giovanni Battista 29, Vernazza, tel 39 334 2875 718
I almost hate to tell you about La Mala. It’s so sweet and so small, yet it is one lovely small hotel with amazing views from a couple of the four rooms. Gian runs the beautiful inn and will treat you graciously. From Vernazza you can walk the other four Cinque towns and take in the incredible vistas. There are numerous great ristoranti, including Belforte 39 0187 812222, where you will dine looking over the blue sea. A short hop away, accessible by boat or on foot, in Monterosso, is the wonderful restaurant Miky 39 0187 817608. During the day you’ll hear more English spoken than Italian, but in early morning and after 5 when the day trippers have departed, you will experience the magic that can only be found in these amazing 5 terre. Our secret is to buy prosciutto and formaggio and enjoy a light lunch in our room, avoiding the influx of day travelers or to spend the day by the sea – Monterosso is best for swimming. And, the Ligurian Sea is perfect for swimming or relaxing.
Ristoro Lamole, via Lamole 6, Greve in Chianti, 39 055 8547050
A terrific day trip is to head to Chianti and Ristoro Lamole, at the top of the tiny hill town. Indulge yourself in spectacular views and yummy foods, like pear ravioli or the most wonderful rabbit you’ve ever tasted, not to mention some wonderful Chianti. After lunch head to the little town of Panzano and stop in to meet renown butcher, Dario Cecchini who received wide acclaim from his efforts to ‘bring back’ the once banned Bistecca Fiorentina. To many, he’s a meat god and his shop is like a small museum, arrayed with a wide array of scrumptious meats and rather wonderful art. A red rose sits outside the shop commemorating his succesful effort. Across the street Dario heads a terrific restaurant so if you happen to stay overnight or have the time to spend the evening in Panzano, it’s a great place to satisfy your culinary chops.
Visit the Most Famous Butcher in the World
Antica Macelleria Cecchini, via XX Luglio, 11 Panzano in Chianti 39 255 852700