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When I started my retirement travels - the first of which was my solo overseas trip to Italy in 2009 - I wanted a way to share it with family and friends as it happened. Hence, "My Travel Journal". However I realized I wouldn't always be on a trip and wondered what to do with the blog in between times. My daughter pointed out, wisely, that travels can also include trips to the kitchen to try a new recipe, trips to visit family, trips to my neighborhood Starbucks, or a fun day trip with a friend. You're welcome to join me on any of these journeys!

P.S. I've set up separate pages for each of my major trips (see tabs above).

I recently added an "Italian Word a Day" thingie which shows up at the bottom of every page. You see the word and can click to hear it pronounced. I've been enjoying it and I think my accent is improving as time goes by.

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September 27, 2009

Saturday - A Walk for the Stout of Heart

I had read in my various books, on-line, wherever, about porchetta - which is basically a whole roast pig that has somehow been stuffed with a paste of garlic, herbs, and salt and they saw off slices of it and make sandwiches.  It was something I definitely wanted to try and my notes also said that Greve has an open-air market every Saturday morning and one of the things that's always there is a porchetta truck (like our hot dog vendor vans at functions).  So, off I went, down, down, down the hill to Greve, thinking all the while about the fact that I was going to have to come back up, up, up.  Well, not all the while, cause I was also enjoying the scenery, to whit:

Starting down...
A handsome bird
olives have some growing to do

Silvery olive trees
And more olives (sorry - I can't seem to stop...)
Fruit of the vine
At the market

The market was pretty much like a big flea market - and lots of the same kinds of things they were selling around San Lorenzo - leather goods and scarves seem to be really big.  From what I've read they're not very good quality which is why they're so cheap. But I bought a backpack thing so I'd have something I could pack my groceries in for the trip back up the hill. 

The Piazza shops are very much geared toward tourists, but there is an actual small town surrounding the piazza where you'd most likely do business if you lived here.

I saw the American couple I had met on the bus at a little bar where I was having a slice of delicious apricot tart and a cup of tea.  It was neat to run into someone I "knew".

I finally decided it was time to buy my porchetta and some bread to put it in (they made sandwiches but I wasn't going to eat mine til evening).  So I went to what was an insanely popular bakery - had to take a number and wait in line but they did have a wonderful selection of breads and pastries.  Then I went and purchased my porchetta.  It isn't the whole, entire pig - it's what I guess you'd call the torso...at least I didn't see any head or legs (well, of course, the head would have been the first to go, I guess).  My book said you were supposed to tell them how much fat you wanted, whether you wanted extra garlic, whether you wanted some of the crispy skin, etc., but I figured I was doing well to order a couple of slices of the meat.  And mine sure had plenty of fat on it!  Oh, and at the bakery I also bought a pastry for breakfast and then I bought a nectarine from another vendor to go with it.  And I had also purchased a little wedge of fresh pecorino cheese, I guess to go with the rest of the bread...who knows?  So, being all set with good things to eat, I headed back up to Montefioralle.
As I left the village there was a little museum and I stopped in to ask about hours and such and decided maybe I'd just walk down again on Sunday and visit it.  After such avid sightseeing in Florence, I felt compelled to do something while in Greve!
And then it was up, up and up.  And I do mean UP!!!  I used taking more pictures as an excuse to stop frequently.  So here is more of the beautiful countryside.

I've already conquered one steep climb at this point
Notice how I keep looking back to show how hard I'm working?
Grapes growing right along the road
Half of a little cemetery
A big cypress and the Montefioralle sign (thank heavens!)

Still going up...and pretty near melted away
I just think they're so pretty
I've either died and gone to heaven or that's Montefioralle
It is, it is Montefioralle!  And I made it!!
The rest of the evening was basically spent enjoying being here.  I sat outside for awhile and at some point an American couple came up behind me and since I heard English, you know me - I spoke to them.  He was in the Air Force and stationed in  Germany where they've been for three years and he just signed up for another three in Germany.  And they spend all their vacation traveling all over Europe.  We chatted for quite a while and they were intrigued by the idea of renting an apartment up here so I finally invited them to take a look at it and they were duly impressed.  A nice couple and I think traveling while in the Armed Services nowadays is probably a whole lot different than when my first husband was stationed in Germany!

So, a lovely, lovely day and evening.  Worked on pictures and blog a little, read a little, ate a little, had some wine...oh, and the porchetta was really delicious - very salty, and I love salty.  Very stinky with garlic too and I love garlic!


Christopher said...

Oh my gosh, my mouth is watering... You've inspired me to seek out something tasty and garlic-y for dinner tonite... Lovely pictures of the descent and climb--I didn't realize olive trees were so silvery. Now the question on my mind---is your sandwich bread unsalted as was in Florence? ;) Glad you keep running into nice Americans (or at least, nice English-speaking folks) from time to time. And is your place in the village, visible in any of those shots of Montefioralle?

Mary Lynne said...

Hi Chris, No, my house isn't and I think it's because the houses are inside the fortification walls. I'd love to have a little better understanding of the village - there are apparently two sets of walls (I guess that was common) but one of my guide things said that at some point the space between the two walls was used to build houses. So before that, were there no houses? Just the castle? Some houses inside the interior wall? I don't know! And I had some very unsalted bread at my Friday night dinner and today at lunch, but the baguette type loaf I brought home yesterday was wonderful. And anytime I grab a panini type sandwich in Florence, the bread has been toasted, of course, and is really tasty.

kacki said...

Hi Mary Lynne,
I've been following your blog with pure delight. I'm thrilled that at long last your dream of Italy is really happening. Sure am glad that the ankle incident wasn't any worse. Continue to enjoy yourself and keep those pics coming! BTW, any minis? Take care and stay safe.

January said...

Gosh it's gorgeous...and steep! Way to go Mama - you are a supahpah troopahpah. Those olive trees are something else! If they had been ripe, do you think you could have resisted (or had to have resisted) picking one?
We're having tortellini with pesto tonight, but I bet your dinner was better!

Mary Lynne said...

Hi Kacki! I'm so tickled to know you've been following me around Italy! :) I think the piece of pottery I bought today (Sunday) could kind of qualify as a mini - we'll just have to gt together when I get back if you want to see it! :)

Mary Lynne said...

Shoot, January - my dinner was cheese and bread - good, but I could certainly go around some tortellini with pesto!

Jamie said...

So how far is it from your apartment to the village? Are you training for a marathon! The pictures are awesome. I especially love the one with the rooster! Was the bakery like the Seinfeld episode with the soup Nazi? Can't wait to hear more!

Mary Lynne said...

Jamie - My apartment is IN the village of Montefioralle, but if you mean how far from Greve, which is more of a town, it's about 1-1/4 miles, mostly downhill, and then, sadly, mostly uphill. And no, in spite of how busy it was, the bakery was quite friendly - everybody happy to be buying good bread, I guess.

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