Chianti with friends

Our short stay in Chianti in Tuscany was a chance to catch up with friends – some Italian locals and some Kiwi’s on tour. For three days all we seemed to do was eat and drink and tour the small villages of Chianti.

The base for our stay was the delightful Relais Vignale in Radda in Chianti. Spread across a number of traditional tuscan buildings, this hotel is a great way to enjoy a break without being limited to the “Saturday to Saturday” villa booking cycle. The service is excellent – in fact the manager Serena went out of her way to help us when our booking was affected by our overly long stay in Hong Kong.

We met up with friends from New Zealand who were staying just up the road and our good local friends Olga and Dani. Meals were had and stories relayed.

As always when in Chianti, the surprises were off the beaten track – the small village restaurant we stopped at for lunch and the gallery where the artist told us the story behind the small print we fell in love with and bought.

But after a shortened stay we packed up our rental car with our already expanding suitcases, farewelled friends, and headed north to Camogli for a week by the sea.

 

 

The train to Florence

Getting around Italy by high speed train is easy and relaxing. We have regularly used it between Rome, Florence and Naples in the past and this trip is no exception.

The one thing we haven’t done before is try out Trenitalia’s premium class. This is half a carriage of luxury seating – 8 seats in all – right at the front of the train. It costs a bit more but comes with a meal service, a cabin crew member to look after you and your luggage and more legroom than you could want. There is even a conference room in the carriage if a quick meeting is needed en route.

On this leg of our journey from Rome to Florence we treated ourselves and booked seats 2A and 2B.

 

Normal transmission resumes

After finally getting to Rome, yesterday we travelled north by train to Florence and then drove to our hotel in Chianti – Relais Vignale.

And it felt like the holiday had begun.

There’s nothing like a quiet drink in the evening before heading out to dinner.

 

Our car is the dark grey one

Rental cars are commodities. You get handed a set of keys, jump in and drive. It was only when we returned to our rental in Radda later in the day that we realised we had no idea what make or model it was.

It’s one of these – thank heaven for remote unlocking.

Under a Tuscan sunset

Last Friday we visited our dear friends Dani and Olga at their home for dinner. We had not seen their new house before or the delightful hamlet it is part of. As the sun set, we took some photographs that go some way to capturing the beauty of the area.

The meal was absolutely superb and the company delightful. Grazie mille Dani and Olga.

That’s a bit of me.

We were sitting in a cafe in Radda in Chianti and I spotted these three gentlemen enjoying the afternoon sun, some gentle conversation and a little people watching.

Perfect. Something for me to aim for in 30 years time. I’d probably end up being the gentleman on the left.

Home cooked Carbonara

One of the things we love to do on holiday is cook. Dishes that makes use of local ingredients can’t be beaten and when we spent a few days in a villa, the apron comes out.

When it was time to cook at Il Diaccino we assembled the ingredients for a Carbonara and Jean went to work. Local fresh Pici pasta and pancetta, fresh parmigiano reggiano cheese, black pepper, egg and a little cooking.

It tasted as good as it looked.