It’s Spring Vacation. Yesterday morning, Allan and I caught the 6:00 AM flight from Tunis to Rome, which takes exactly one hour, rented a car and drove to Tuscany. We are staying for a week at the Agritourismo Marciano, a farm stay just outside the city walls of Siena. So far, it is exactly what we wanted: a real farm, rustic but tasteful, organic, clean. It’s all of that.
They have a particular thing about the laundry here which is all fresh and bright from air drying. Well-done laundry is important to me and gives me a clear message about the deep levels of intentionality this establishment has. The cat particularly liked it, too. I felt like him last night tucked into my clean, crisp sheets.
Due to limited internet access, my husband wasn’t able to check his email this morning so he read a guidebook instead. When we got into the car to go into Siena for the day, he had everything planned, including a great little surprise place for lunch. I find that incredibly romantic.
We so passionately want to find the great little places to have a bite to eat and do not want to be herded along tourist trails from one oversized meal to another. He read about Antica Pizzicheria al Palazzo della Chigiana which is probably locally known as Antonio’s. It is a tiny meat and cheese shop that is legendary with the locals. A line starts to form near noon and is soon out the door. Allan read that you could ask them to assemble a platter to eat on the spot and if you bought a bottle of wine, they would lend you glasses.
They aren’t actually a restaurant, but they can prop you up with your delicatessan treasures on a wine cask in a corner and there you can spend an indulgent 1/2 hour groaning with each bite and licking your fingers. Antonio was really touchy about taking pictures. He had several posted signs forbidding it and tragically, you never saw a more atmospheric place in your life; it’s begging to have its picture taken. I sort of begged him a little and he grudgingly allowed me to inconspicuously take a few so I kept it really brief. Here are just some house-canned sauces and artichokes. I love the hand-drawn labels.
Here is what was on that plate: five varieties of pecorino, which is the Italian name for cheese made from sheep’s milk and then cured meats that ranged from wild boar to farm-raised, air-dried pork. Notice the condiments that brought it together and that bread had chunks of salty meat and chunks of cheese.
This meal was a great find and it set a tone for the kind of food we want to source out the rest of the week. Take out your Siena Brown color-crayon and color along with us.