TENDING the TABLE

ITALY

We came home yesterday after almost three weeks in Italy to rain, fierce winds and the customary grey clouds. Apparently it’s winter already in Seattle. We pulled out the slippers, ran a hot bath and then went straight to the store to stock up on all the vegetables. Why vegetables? Because after almost three weeks of eating exclusively pasta, bread, tomatoes, cheese, coffee and wine, we were both craving green. Now we’re both catching up on work before heading off for various weekend events. I’ll be back next week with a fall recipe or two. Until then, continue reading for some of the highlights from our trip…

We spent the first week of our trip in Southern Italy at a yoga retreat. The retreat was held at  Masseria Potenti, a stunning 16th century traditional farmhouse set amongst olive groves and vineyards. The property is scattered with orange, pomegranate and quince trees and every beautiful detail adheres to a cultural and historic aesthetic true to place. The decor strikes the perfect balance between rustic charm and elegance. Every morning we’d practice yoga, chanting and pranayama and then head straight for the pool. The afternoons were spent lounging around, visiting the nearby beaches and towns and catching up with old friends from Vermont. In the evenings, we gathered at long tables decorated with whimsical arrangements and a plethora of candles. It was truly magical and I’d definitely recommend going if you have the chance.

After wrapping up the retreat we headed North and spent the next week driving through Tuscany in route to Rome. We stopped in Lucca, Florence, Radda in Chianti, Siena, Cortona, Orvieto and Civita di Bagnoreggio. The scenery was spectacular and Anders had way too much fun driving like an Italian. Along the way we soaked in the historic architecture and ornate churches before collapsing in bed each night with aching feet and full hearts. We finished our trip with three days in Rome, taking in all the obligatory sights.

It felt good to travel again, just the two of us, with no plans and little responsibility, and to focus on learning to live in the moment. We’ll see if we can carry that lesson into our daily lives at home. In the meantime, I’ve compiled a little list from our trip of  our favorite places to stay, eat and shop.

XOXO

STAY

Masseria Potenti

16th Century property in Puglia with elegant, comfortable rooms, a pool and a stunning landscape full of beautiful details.

SHOP

Ijo Design

One of a kind clothing made by hand on an olive wood loom in Lecce, Puglia.

EAT

Buccellato Taddeucci

Great stop for a cappuccino and a loaf of Lucca’s signature breakfast pastry with raisins and anise.

Edoardo Il Gelato Biologico

Organic, seasonal gelato in Florence.

Salefino

The first really good meal we had in Italy. Great service, perfect hand made pasta dishes and fun salads (we had one with pear, parmesan, honey, and turnips). Siena.

Osteria del Teatro

Fancier place  in Cortona with good service and a great wine list. The highlight of our meal was the wine (which was light and refreshing and tasted like passionfruit) and the cheese plate that came with a dozen different house made preserves and three kinds of honey. We had a blast pairing the different cheeses and preserves.

Pizzarium

Stand up pizza joint where they cut your pizza with scissors. Tons of topping options and really nice, flavorful crust. Rome.

Volpetti

Amazing deli in Rome with quality bread, tortas, cheese, meat, olives, preserves etc. Everything here is beautifully arranged and presented and the variety is mind blowing.

Enoteca Cul de Sac

The first really good bread we had in Italy (everything else was flavorless and stale). This place is super small, but has a great cheese and antipasto menu. We had amazing black olives that had been cured with big chunks of lemon rind and herbs. Rome.

Biscottificio Artigiano Innocentiz

Small cookie shop on a quiet street in Trastevere with an amazing assortment of typical Italian cookies. So many choices. We ate ours on the steps of a nearby church.

Tazza d’Oro

Really good cappuccinos served at a long marble counter right near the Pantheon.