Panzanella is a tasty and satisfying Italian summer salad, perfect for picnics and eating al fresco. We enjoyed it last weekend when the sun was shining and it felt like we were on holiday in our own garden. The weather has sadly turned greyer and damper, but I am hopeful the blue skies will return. Hope, hope!
I took this recipe from a cookery book called Yolanda’s Kitchen, written by Yolanda Pearson who was born in Normandy to a French mother and an Italian father. With that kind of a background, it’s not surprising Yolanda can cook. Yolanda is a good friend of my husband’s family. As a boy, Jason used to play with Yolanda’s son Simon whenever they visited their holiday cottage up in Shropshire and he has very good memories of eating well at their house.
Many people go for drives in the country on Sunday, but few have the good fortune to take them in Tuscany. Much of Tuscany resembles a man-made garden: collections of vineyards, groves of olive trees, or fields of sunflowers flow over rolling hills that are interrupted now and then by small, ancient villages. Often on the summits of the hills one sees a row of cypress or umbrella pines. What a place for a drive!
Florence (Firenze in Italian) was one of our Sunday destinations. Those of you who have visited Florence have probably struggled through throngs of tourists to visit its many splendors. Imagine walking it streets on a Sunday and encountering relatively few tourists, let alone people. Olive went there with my brother on a weekday and did see many people going about their business, but Florence was hardly crowded.
We turned around and saw one for the first time. It was outside the coffee bar, just across the narrow street in Fiesole. On the sportello (little door) that covers the gas meter was a painting of a street scene—specifically, the very house that belonged with the painted door! It was signed FL and dated 2013. We smiled at our discovery and asked Riccardo what that colorful picture was all about. He told us about an artist in town who likes to paint pictures on those little utility doors. Interesting!
Days later we were having lunch outside at Vinandro just down the street, and noticed another colorful painting in the same style. There it was, in all its glory, on the metal door just outside the restaurant. We went over to take a closer look. Sure enough there was another FL and date in the lower right hand corner…
I am writing You for giving You some suggestions for Your trip in Tuscany and Umbria.
Consider that the apartment is located in Castiglion Fibocchi, a little village (approx. 2.000 inhabitants) close to the city of Arezzo which You can reach by car in 15 minutes.
The location is very central in Tuscany and with the car You car easily reach the most beautiful part in Tuscany and also in Umbria.
For what concerns Tuscany, first of all I give You some advices for the places You can visit just around the apartment:
– Il Borro : at approx. 4-5 km from the apartment (10 minutes from the apartment by car); a medieval Tuscan village built with patience, hundreds of years ago, where every architectural detail was meticulously planned, has been restored to the likes of a renaissance painting where You can also visit a very beautiful vinery (http://www.ilborro.it/en/activities-sports-e-tours/visits-to-the-cellar);
– if You are interested in tasting wine, I can also recommend a beautiful vinery close to our apartment (just 1,5-2 km, 5 minutes by car) named “Tenuta La Pineta”, the owner is a friend of mine and if You take an apointment with him You can make a tour of the vinery, taste a very good wine and also olive oil and honey (http://www.tenutalapineta.it)
– Arezzo, my city, at approx. 12 km (15 minutes by car) where You can visit the city centre: Piazza Grande (the most beautiful square of the city), the Cathedral, the beautiful Pieve (Romanesque church) and the Church of San Francesco with the frescoes of Piero della Francesca. On the road from Castiglion Fibocchi to Arezzo You can also visit “Ponte Buriano” a romanic bridge which according to the latest studies seems to have inspired Leonardo da Vinci in the painting “La Gioconda”.
– Cortona at approx. 40 km (50 minutes by car) a very beautiful Etruscan village: You can visit his Etruscan walls, ancient churches and museum. Close to Cortona we recommend to visit the Etruscan tumulus tombs , the most antique form of buria and also Lake Trasimeno.
Then if You go a little bit far:
– Florence (approx. 80 km from the apartment …. 1 hour by car): surely one of the must in Tuscany really beautiful and with a lot o place to visit such as the Cathedral, Ponte Vecchio, Palazzo Vecchio and the museum of Uffizi (http://www.firenzeturismo.it/);
– Siena (approx. 60 km .. 1 hour by car): really very beautiful with is Cathedral and with Piazza del Campo the most beautiful square where every year (twice per year) takes place the “Palio” a famous horse race.
– All the Chianti Area, the countryside around Siena, where it is really beautifull also going around with the car and where You can visit beautiful place such as Radda in Chianti, Greve in Chianti,