Day 28 – Tuscania Where Else Can We Eat?

purgatorio1With only a couple of days left we realized that there are still some restaurants that the owner’s of our villa recommended.  I don’t know if I mentioned the amazing book that they left us filled with notes on towns worth visiting, cards from the best restaurants all over, maps of cities and parking tips and directions all over Umbria, Tuscany and Lazio.  This book has been our bible while we’ve been here.  It’s given us ideas, helped us plan itineraries and always shown us the best places to eat!  (They also left an incredible array of tour books, history books and cooking magazines.  Everything we could need to research and prepare for our various journeys this past month)

So, with bible in hand we decided to pick out a restaurant on the other side of Lake Bolsena that we hadn’t yet explored.  We chose a restaurant called Purgatorio and plugged in the non-address into the GPS as best we could since there was no real street or number being right on the lake – somewhere.   The drive around the western edge of Lake Bolsena was very different than the Eastern side.  We worked our way through lush vegetation, tall grasses and tilled fields as well as vineyards and waving olive trees.   We finally arrived at the restaurant perched off a dirt road not 20 feet from the water’s edge.  If this was purgatory than all those sinners out there should be relieved. Continue reading

Day 21- Tuscania, Taking Time to Smell the Sunflowers

stopping to smell the sunflowers

stopping to smell the sunflowers

Today we did our usual day of rest following the insanely packed day at the Vatican.  We walked through Tuscania, still with map in hand, to find some new stores and routes that we hadn’t yet explored.  We then hit Lake Bolsena again for some serious downtime and relaxation.   The nice thing about being here for an entire month is not having the pressure to do everything and see new things every day.  Instead, being in Italy has begun to feel like a normal place to be, as if we had decided to rent a house upstate for the summer.

Of course what makes it extra special is that this house happens to be in a walled city steeped in history of ancient Etruscans, the Roman Empire through the construction of a modern Italy.  There are little old ladies and men hanging out on their benches in the morning and in the afternoon.  They go inside for riposo, I guess because the hanging out together on the chairs and benches qualifies as “work time” – from one to four you have to go inside and eat lunch to chill out.  I love this group of old timers who watch everything and everyone coming up and down the steep cobblestone hills, making sure that you belong there and are not trespassing through.

There is just a completely different rhythm to life here, and it’s hard to adjust initially.  Continue reading

Day 19 – Tuscania and a Day of Rest (with incredible views)

view from miralago

view from miralago

After exhausting ourselves in Rome and getting home very late we slept in on Sunday and decided to have a relaxing local day by Lake Bolsena.  We called ahead to make a reservation at Da Paolino al Miralago restaurant in Montefiascone a city perched high above the lake on verdant cliffs.  We have learned our lesson about not calling ahead in Italy.

We arrived at the restaurant, which from the road looks like a little shack at the edge of the street.  The kitchen is across the road with the other half of the restaurant.  Then we entered the small structure and saw before us an enormous panorama of Lake Bolsena and the neighboring hilltop towns and gardens.  They seated us right by the window and we watched the platters of food being served to the Italian families seated all around us.  They gave us menus that had Italian printed on one side and unfortunately English printed on the other.  I’m wary of any restaurant that has an English translation.  Nothing that was being eaten at any of the tables all around us was on that menu – nor on the Italian side either. Continue reading

Day 4 Tuscania and Lake Bolsena again! (Why can’t we make a damn cell phone call?)

We spent the better part of our morning sorting out the mystery of the cell phone.    Before we left Corey unlocked his iphone at a place in midtown.  Now that it was ready for an Italian SIM card we thought we were good to go, but we still couldn’t make a call.  And, since all of the prompts were in Italian, we couldn’t figure out what was wrong. Finally, the saleslady at the cell phone store in Tuscania figured out that our SIM card needed to be refilled with more Euros so Corey got a new one with lots of Euros and finally the cell phone juggle was solved.

After all of that fun we headed up the main drag to the tiny little fresh pasta store to select some pastas to cook for dinner.  They were all beautiful and filled with all sorts of fresh stuffing- fish, meat, different cheeses, porcini mushrooms, spinach, etc.  Each girl chose their own; Sophia got mezzaluna with meat, Isabel got potato gnocchi that looked like little gumdrops, and us adults got ravioli with a fish and ricotta filling.   Then we headed to the pasticceria to get cookies.  And finally to the fromaggeria to get cheese.  Basically life here revolves completely around food which is perfectly fine with me.  We headed to lunch at a local place in a small piazza and then realized that the heat and sun were overwhelming.

So we packed up the car with our beach paraphernalia and headed back to Lake Bolsena for what we thought would be a relaxing end to the day. Continue reading

Day Three – Tuscania and Lake Bolsena (whining sounds the same in Italy)

So we were prepared for the disaster that would be our daughters this morning.  They fell asleep around midnight and woke up hyper and nutty at 7:30.  So much for that red eye flight making the jet lag thing easy.  Friday is market day in Tuscania so we headed out to load up on fresh produce and what I envisioned as stall after stall of meats, cheeses, fish, pasta, everything that the local Italian farmers would have to offer.  I was wrong.  There were two lone produce stands, and the rest was a Florida Bubbe’s flea market bazaar.  Table after table of cheap clothes, shoes, bras and hats.  Not the Italian movable feast I had imagined.   But, we got our tomatoes, peppers, peaches and plums and felt like at least we now knew what to expect from market day.

My daughters also decided that this was the day that they HAD to make some Italian friends.  They each packed a little Italian phrase book in their small purses and dragged us to the playground.  The playground is a sort of 1970s style Central Park playground.  Metal equipment that’s not totally bolted to the ground, two hard flat wooden swings, a basic jungle gym and a slide.  What makes this not so 1970s NYC is the huge gelateria and bar in the center equipped with video games and all of those toy dispenser machines.  The girls LOVE this place.  You’d think they’d never seen a playground before let alone live one block away from a spectacular one.  But…

Continue reading