• Mary Beth Chalk

Virtual Day Ten: All Present and Accounted For

Villa Maramai awoke to the new life now contained in its walls. Wanting to enjoy the crisp morning before hosting family for brunch I threw on a light sweater, made a cup of coffee, and walked outside to sit in the garden facing the vineyard. The morning sun was just peaking over the horizon spreading its warmth over me as it made its’ ascent. My heart was full of gratitude for this time to be still, travel slow, and share this gorgeous country with people I love. Meanwhile, family members were taking advantage of a slow morning, sleeping in, while Anna arrived from the village to prepare brunch and dinner.

Mid-afternoon we made a quick trip to Chiusi-Chianciano Termini (train station) to pick up remaining family members. Following travel on planes and trains, dragging lugging clickety-clack up and down stairs and over smooth and rough terrain, three generations now occupied Villa Maramai. The joy, love, and sense of wonder about the adventure ahead permeated our little villa. For some it was their first time in Italy and for others a welcomed return to a beloved place.

After hoisting the remaining luggage to the second floor we convened outside on the shaded brick patio overlooking the pool where Anna had prepared and beautifully presented our aperitivo of prosciutto wrapped melon paired with an icy cold Gracciano Rosato di Toscana, a deep coral colored rose. The sweetness of the melon, saltiness of the ham, and the dry wine was a perfect welcome.

As we sat and shared travel misadventures, both current and past, Anna called us to the alfresco setting she had thoughtfully prepared for our 2-course Tuscan dinner. Our meal demonstrated the essence of Tuscan cooking, cucina povera or “poor cooking”, utilizing high quality, fresh ingredients at their peak from the surrounding hillsides.

As the sun began to disappear, Anna called us to the table for the primo course of pasta with creamy basil pesto paired with the Gracciano Rosso di Montepulciano DOC. After our prayer of heartfelt thanks, we began to savor the taste of Tuscany all the while discussing the plans for the upcoming week. The pasta was followed by roasted pork on a bed of garden fresh rucola (arugula) and fennel drizzled with a lemon vinaigrette and paired with the Gracciano Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. As the first cucina povera meal in Tuscany came to an end, we savored Anna’s cantucci (crisp almond cookies) dipped in the Avignonesi Vin Santo.

Benvenuti in Toscana! (welcome to Tuscany)

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