Kitchen Table Travel in Italy
Our first Kitchen Table Travel outing was a complete success and we had a blast in Italy with our guests! We drove through beautiful autumnal landscapes, ate incredible regional and seasonal foods, saw so many sights, and met wonderful people along the way; farmers, chefs, tour guides, artists, and naturalists who all contributed to make our adventure special and unique. Here's a little recap:
Our First day! It all began on Halloween when we met in Ostia, the old Roman port town, for our drive into the countryside of Lazio. But before we could reach our destination, we had to make a stop at an Autogrill, a beloved Italian roadside institution, always lively with families and other motorists who've hit the road for various reasons. In an Autogrill, you can stock up on really cool snacks (Paprika Pringles! Prosciutto!), gifts (Giant chocolate Baci!), wine (Because you can't show up empty-handed!), or simply grab an espresso or panino (Mortadella, buffalo Mozzarella, and Pistachio, anyone?). The people-watching here is five-star entertainment. Once our bellies were full, and we'd purchased snacks for the car ride and agriturismo, we were feeling pretty confident in ourselves for having ordered in italian at the counter. It was time to head north toward Aquapendente and our first Agriturismo, Le Spighe. Sitting on the borders of Lazio, Tuscany, and Umbria, Le Spighe is part of a family-owned farm. The owners (possibly nicest people on the planet) are rightfully house-proud of their gorgeous, rustic property. We were greeted by our hosts with Halloween candies, pumpkins, and a lavish spread of local charcuteries, cheeses, and wines. We got to stuff ourselves while listening to Francesco (the owner) tell us about the local chestnut festival that they call a "castration" festival. We'll save that story for another time. We only stopped eating so that we could all go unpack and get ready for our dinner at the local restaurant, La Dogana. La Dogana is just down the road from La Spighe in a tiny village named Centeno. It's the only restaurant in town and it's always packed with locals. It's a warm, inviting spot with traditional grilled meat dishes. It was fun to order the seasonal vegetables and share a bit of everything.
Day Two, Monday
We got to sleep in a little before heading over to La Podere il Casale for a tour of the cheese farm followed by a cheese and wine tasting. Ulisse, one of the proprietors of the farm, gave us an incredible tour and broke down not only the cheese-making process but a lot of what goes into an organic farm to table practice. It was enlightening and brought newfound respect for farming.
We headed to Pienza next to walk off some of that cheese. Pienza is a UNESCO site, known as a perfect example of a renaissance village.
Our next stop was Montepulciano, another hilltop village for a bit of wine tasting before calling it a night. Everyone was tired and full so we decided to skip dinner and instead have a cozy night at home.
Day Three, Tuesday
Our well-rested group set out for the activity of the day, a visit to Orvieto, one of the most charming hill top towns in Umbria. Here we went on a tour of the Etruscan caves, walked the streets for a bit of shopping, had an impressive lunch and saw the duomo. After a day of sightseeing and such a large lunch, we all voted to go back to our charming home for a night of pizza and wine.
Day Four, Wednesday
On the agenda was an exhausting day of a multi-course lunch in a charming lakeside town followed by a trip to a winery for a tour and tasting. We decided on another pizza and wine night at home because it was so much fun the first time.
That wraps up the first leg of our trip. The next day we pack up and head out to Bomarzo to see the Garden of Monsters before driving to Montopoli for our grand culinary adventure. Stay tuned for Part Two!