November 26, 2019

The world is a big village

Sometimes I wish all my friends would be living in my neighborhood so we could see each other more often. And then, a friend, I haven’t seen for a while comes by my neighborhood. Florence is only 1h25 away from Paris.
Gelateria, pasticceria, pizzeria, trattoria, prosciutto, prosecco, biscotti... Another language, another culture, another world. Maybe the world is just a big village.
Touched down, got on a bus to the main train station, bought a ticket at the tabacconist and ran to the train platform #16. I had only a couple of minutes to get out at Camucia-Cortona station. No wifi, my friend is not there yet so I ask the bar owner to call her. Funny to hear Spanish words coming out of my mouth, as I try to speak Italian. My friend is here with her friends. It is already dark. We are now driving in a small car, on Tuscan countryside roads.
I'm going to fall asleep in an unknown house, in a foreign village. And, tomorrow will be a surprise. How does it look like outside that unknown house in a foreign village?

Florence Airport

When I woke up in the unknown house in that foreign village, Bosco, the hunting dog already had his morning walk in the neighborhood. Breakfast was homemade plum jam on a piece of homemade bread.
I am not a tourist or a traveler on that trip outside of Florence. I am a visitor. No rush, no plan, only the pleasure of the company of old and new friends. We will run errands, do the groceries, cook, bake, have long conversations. We are coming from different path of life but we are sharing similar life experiences. At breakfast with a cup of tea or, at dinner with a glass of Prosecco, around that same table we did literally cried and laugh.


Life can be as simple as that. Tuesday as the girls went for their Art class I had my morning strolling in the streets of Cortona. Why most people remain on that main street as a horde while they could have the town all by themselves if they would just take a left or right on that side street? It always strikes me. So I took those sides streets. Some weren’t larger than my both arms wide opened. For a moment, I was alone in Cortona.

Gorgonzola, pears and walnuts pizza at Bar del Riccio

I enjoyed the spontaneity of those few days in Cignano, the foreign village. This Gorgonzola, pears and nuts pizza in a small restaurant along the road, back from Castiglione del Lago, was probably the best pizza I ever had. Figuring out the labels in Italian for the heavy whipping cream, in the supermarket, was the hardest task for the making of the caramel sauce that goes with that flourless chocolate cake. I baked that cake in different kitchens, in different countries and I get always stressed out about the result. Different oven, different dish, somehow this time it was perfect. I baked it twice within a few days. The Apple Tatin Tart didn’t work out as well.

Cignano, an evening cooking and baking

Art lesson about colors: I knew the primary colors, I knew the secondary colors made out of the primary colors but I never knew about the tertiary colors, a blend of primary and secondary colors. Did you know?

Aert class by Sarah Miatt 

On my last day in the foreign village, we stopped at the market to get some cheese, olives and dates for the way back to Florence. Taking the train through the countryside had something old fashioned that I like. The slow motion maybe, the possibility to see the countryside going by the window and have nothing else to do than watch, chat and snack on olives and cheese.

Camucia market

Florence has a different pace. Pretty things at each corner: the front window of an Art supply shop, a detail in the facade of a building, the architecture and the richness of the city. Some more pizza and pasta, pistachio ice creams. Frutti di Bosco flavor is not bad too. The Cantuccini e vin santo, almond biscuits dipped into sweet wine seemed at first a large dessert portion but a biscuit at the time and, they were soon all gone. I like the sound of “piccolino” in Italian.

Florence, Piazza del duomo

As we were waiting for the blacksmith to change the lock of the door of our apartment, we went for a delicious lunch in a delicious place: Mushroom cream brulée caramelized with sesame, walnuts and tarragon. Pumpkin “bottoni” pasta in an almond sauce, orange flavored escabeche of zucchini and roasted chestnuts. Coffee flavored pears and creamy mascarpone with Tonka bean and pecan nuts. What else can I say? They know how to live well here.

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