Monday, October 24, 2011

Cinque Terre, Italia

Enjoying a lazy day in the Cinque Terre today.  The last day before the long journey back to New York.  Did some hiking yesterday from Vernazza to Riomagiore.  The regular trail from Corniglia to Manarola was closed with a detour up into the hills above.  The first 30 minutes were very steep and difficult.  What used to be a fairly easy 45 minute hike is now a 2 hour grueling march due to a land slide.  The views were great and it felt good after we got back to Vernazza and enjoyed a cold beer.

Great dinner last night in Monterosso at Ristorante Miky.  Spaghetti al vongole and salt baked sea bass.    

Taking it easy this afternoon and then a boat ride after lunch.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Day trip to Florence

We took a nice day trip to Florence today.  Took the bus from Siena, an easy 1 hour and 20 minutes for 7 Euro.  Walked around a bit and visited the Accademia and Uffizi.  Seeing the David again was awesome.  I last saw him when I was in junior high school with my Spanish class from Sepulveda.  What an incredible piece of art.  The Uffizi was less impressive - just not my type of museum.

Florence is a beautiful city.  Lots of tourists and too many cars and motorbikes zipping down the narrow lanes though.  I find myself really loving the small towns in Italia and caring less so about the bigger cities.

Off to Cinque Terre tomorrow.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Last day in Montalcino

3 great tastings today - started with Siro Pacenti at 0930.  Very impressive facility and top notch wines.  Rosso and Brunello are both aged in French barrique.  The wines are structured and built to age.  From there we went to the best tasting of the whole trip - Uccellieria.  More than two hours of tastings that included multiple barrel samples, current releases and library wines.  Incredible generosity, talent and passion.  Andres and his wife met with us but they don't speak much English.  The wines were unbelievable and give all of us wine lovers good things to look forward to.  The final visit was Ciacci.  Very professional tasting, beautiful facility and good wines.

Off to Siena tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


Chianti Classico

What a beautiful area.  Lots of small winding roads and spectacular views.  Back to tasting in Montalcino tomorrow. 

Tuscany the beautiful

Breathtaking views today in Chianti Classico.  Two great tastings at Felsina and Fontodi.  Excellent wines and nice people.  More truffles for lunch.

Monday, October 17, 2011


Really nice small town.  Hotel Duomo was excellent.  Lots of interesting restaurants and good local wines.  I wish I had another day here.

Montalcino Day 1

Great morning tasting at Valdicava with Vincenzo.  Tasted the young 2010 and 2009 Brunellos.  The afternoon tasting at Sesta di Sopra was even better.  Great wines and the people there was so warm and welcoming.  We tasted in the living room.  Small town that is quiet at night.  Good dinner with some hearty Tuscan cuisine.  Off to Chianti Classico in the morning.

Roma Sparita, Rome

Incredible Cacio e Pepe.  The best I've had to date.  Light and very peppery as opposed to Da Felice, which was heavy and soupy.  Served in a cheese bowl??  Are you kidding.  A simple dish that delivers incredible flavor.  Everyone in the restaurant had this on their table. Other dishes here were very good too including the pizza.  Nice wine list and the reds are actually served at cellar temperature (rare in Italy).  The setting is in a quiet Piazza in the colorful Trastevere neighborhood.  Thanks for the tip Tony Bourdain!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

On to Orvieto

Had a good full day in Roma yesterday.  Lots of walking and a couple good meals.  Roma Sparita was awesome.  Cacio e pepe was better than Da Felice.  Da Felice is really soupy, which is good but on the heavy side.  Sparita is lighter with lots of cracked pepper and the clincher is the cheese bowl that it is served in.  Incredible dish.  Thanks to Tony Bourdain for the find.  Nice spot in a quiet piazza in Trastevre.  Good pizza too.

Picked up the car this morning and drove to Orvieto.  Good drive and the countryside is beautiful in Umbria.  Nice town too.  Took some good pictures.  Off to Montalcino and tasting at Valdicava in the morning.

Friday, October 14, 2011

First day in Rome

Had a good first day in Rome that consisted of two naps and lots of walking.  Once Dave got in we had a killer lunch near the Piazza Novona.  A little pizza place that was in the Rick Steves guide - pizza was OTC and spaghetti carbonara also very good.  Had a glass of wine afterwards at Cul de Sac - kick ass wine bar also near the Piazza Novona.  Walked around after lunch and passed by most of the big Rome sights.  Tons of and tons of tourists in Rome.  It seems that there always is but I thought this was the 'shoulder season'.  Dinner last night at Da Felice.  Totally different vibe the second time around.  Very friendly and English was widely spoken.  Food was very good.

Up rather early today.  Planning on visiting the catacombs and then Vatican in the afternoon.

Landing feet first in Rome

Easy flight from Newark to Rome last night and into this morning.  No ground delays despite fog and light rain.  We quickly climbed through the fog and clouds and were soaring through blue skies within a minute of liftoff.  My seatmate was a hip older gentleman that was going on two separate cruises leaving from Rome.  More than 30 days in total.

Dinner was some of the worst airline food I've ever eaten.  Got some sleep (thanks to the Ambian) and enjoyed a great view of the sun rising over the northern coast of France.  On the approach Rome we had a nice flyby from a Alitalia 767 or 777.  He was below us but pretty close.  Nothing dangerous or close enough to trigger TCAS.

Customs in Europe always makes me laugh and this morning was no exception.  The agent looked at my passport for all of about 0.5 seconds and didn't bother to stamp it.  From the aiport I took the train into the city and then a quick walk to my hotel.  Our room isn't ready yet so I'm here waiting for Dave O.  Perfect weather this morning.