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Travel in Tuscany

Travel in Tuscany

On a recent trip we stayed overnight at La Chiusa in Montefollonico, one of Italy's finest inns and restaurants. The owner-chef Dania Lucherini is a woman who traded her law degree for a "masters" in cuisine. Her olive-oil based cooking and pastas are increasingly renowned. The pastas are rolled and cut at the guest's tables by her chefs, all women, then returned to the kitchen for preparation. The pastas were incredibly delicious, light and feathery. The sauce for "Pappardelle Dani" was prepared with tomato, parsley, garlic, parmesan and pecorino (sheep cheese) and olive oil. The homemade ricotta and parsley stuffed ravioli was simple and exquisite, drizzled with the rich olive oil from their groves. Try the wonderful wines of the region while you're at it. We sampled a local white Ucellanda Bellavista, pale gold, with vanilla and a hint of citrus.
La Chiusa, Via Madonnina 88, Montefollonico. Tel: 011-39-577-669668.

On the same trip, we made a major dining find. Outside of the medieval walls of Siena, we discovered the Antica Bottega Nova Trattoria. There, Ettore Silvestri, the owner,(whose wife, mother-in-law and aunt worked in the kitchen) planned a tasting of pastas. These included a reginatta with fresh tomato, sage, carrot, rosemary and garlic and a taglierini with lemon. The vegetables were grown in his garden and each dish was characterized by a clarity of flavor and freshness.
Following the pastas, Ettore insisted that we try his grilled meats. Tuscany is famous for its grilled meats. The lamb was sliced very thin and coated lightly with olive oil, then grilled over a wood fire an finished with a few slices of white truffle. He did the same with duck breast, zest of orange and black truffle. Ettore is convinced that food undergoes changes potentially deleterious to health when cooked at high temperatures and that "high temperature" cooking should be avoided whenever possible.
Antica Bottega Nova Trattoria, Strada Chiantigiana 29, 53100 Siena, Tel: 011-39-577/284230

La Saracina is trully a wonderful resort. If you're planning to stay in Tuscany, you could not find a more rapturous, romantic or reasonable setting than this 7 room B&B which Jesse and Don McCobb created near Pienza. Originally an old farmhouse set on 6 acres it affords 360 degree views of Pienza, Montefollonico and magnificent Montepulciano, with its famed church an Vino Nobile. The site is irresistible with its own olive groves, vineyard and walking trails. Each of the rooms is large and tastefully appointed, with grand bathrooms and Jacuzzis. There is tennis and a pool. No dinner is served so guests are free to explore the restaurants (La Chiusa is six minutes away by car).
La Saracina, 53026 Pienza (SI), Italy. Tel: 011-39-578-748022 Tel: 011-39-578-748018.

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