After a long day and a half of travel my feet finally hit the ground of Italia. When I arrived in the Florence Airport I opted to take a taxi rather than a shuttle to the bus depot where I commenced the journey to the small medieval town of San Gimignano. Though more expensive, I have always found you can learn a lot about a town through the narrative of a local taxi driver. They are indeed the gate keepers..who navigate us through the veins of the unknown city. In 15 minutes I learned how to finally pronounce San Gimignano, was advised of the “must see” neighbouring towns and which areas in Florence I might consider staying in on my way back. Well worth the extra 10 euros.
I won’t lie, being from a small Canadian island town, big city train/bus stations have always made me nervous. I find myself becoming instinctively rigid..protruding my chest to accent my “tough girl” persona. But who am I kidding. The flip flops and oversized suitcase are a shear give away. I stick out like a sore thumb. That said, there’s something about mastering a foreign transit system that leaves me feeling invinsible.
Finally I arrive in San Gimignano. Breathtaking to say the least. It’s what I imagined of a small Tuscan town resting in a slumber behind its great stone walls.
Tired and hungry and in desperate need of a shower, I make my way down the long windy road, my suitcase in toe bouncing from wheel to wheel, until I reach the gates of “Torre Palagetto” ..an ancient farmhouse/vineyard nestled admist the medieval watch tower. And as luck would have it my room was once the wine cellar. There is no place I’d rather rest my head than in the belly of aging wine.
Once settled I make my way to their small kitchen for a four course meal:
Anitpasto-Chianina beef carpaccio with shaved Parmesan drizzled with local olive oil.
Primo-homemade farfelle pasta with zucchini and saffron of San Gimignano
Secondo-pork with artichokes and beans
And finally cheesecake so delicate and weightless I forgot I was too full to eat it.
A few thoughts came to mind as I ate these wonderful dishes: 1. Shame on me for ever buying cheap olive oil 2. Why in the heck do we not embrace wine as it should be embraced, as they do here, freely and abundantly (I didn’t order a glass or even a bottle..I didn’t need to..Franscico never let my glass be empty). 3. Sometimes we can get caught up in making dishes too complex and we forget that food in its simplicity with the the right product can dance together and entice a palete so beautifully there is no need to dress it up. Needless to say dinner was amazing!
A word about eating alone. Having come out of a 20 year relationship I have had only a few experiences of traveling completely alone. And it was fine. More than that..it has so far been great. It’s a ‘coming home’ of sorts. And I respectfully declined the kind offers to eat with others who were seemingly perplexed by the fact I was indeed entirely alone.
My ex, I am grateful to say, is still my dear friend. He said to me before I left “don’t just write it. Be it”. And so with a full belly and lips a beautiful shade of Chianti, I sign off to do just that! Chiao!