Travels with Tim and Lisa

"If my discoveries are other people's commonplaces I cannot help it – for me they retain a momentous freshness" (Elizabeth Bowen)

Monterchi, Tuscany, 19-20.10.05

Posted by Lisa Hill on September 10, 2006

From Venice, we took the train to Arezzo and met up with Tina and Thorolf, friends from Melbourne. They’d had a rough time after being pickpocketed so they were very pleased to see some friendly faces. We had a quick pizza in a forgettable cafe in Arezzo and then collected the car to drive to Monterchi.
We had two ‘homes’in Monterchi, La Duetta for a couple of days, and then La Rocca. Ten days altogether, to give us a bit of a rest from travelling about. We were enchanted with the villa: small and cosy, but well-appointed in the things that matter: big beds, comfy bedding, heating that works even if the cost is ruinous. Cooking facilities were rather rudimentary for a cook like Tim, and there weren’t enough chairs for four people to sit comfortably around the TV but since there was only Italian TV, it hardly mattered. (Italian TV, we were to learn as time went by, is execrable.)
 Donatella, our host, was nice, and generous to a fault. She made us welcome with a bottle of wine and an apricot tart that her mother had made, and was full of advice and suggestions for us to enjoy our stay. We took her advice and had our first meal of pasta and salad at Cafe Enzo’s, a friendly little trattoria (down a perilously steep slope for a dame with a crook ankle, but I survived somehow).
Friday turned out to be a splendid day. I loafed in bed and read The Aspern Papers by Henry James, while the others went out for provisions. First attempts were a failure because the shops were closed, but eventually T, T & T came back in triumph: not only had they found pasta and porcini, but also a truffle!  For dinner that night we had truffle sauce with pasta, salad and Chianti, and Donatella called in and explained to Tim how to peel and cook the truffle.
 Tina roasted chestnuts in the fire and Thorolf made some splendid coffee. Then there was story-telling around the fire: the Finding of the Truffle; The Choosing of the Truffle; and the Admiration of the Locals for Tourists who Come All the Way from Australia Just to Buy A Truffle. It poured with rain, and we didn’t care at all…

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