That’s what the farmer shouted as I passed his stand at the big
outdoor market in Montevarchi. At first,
I thought it must be a poem. I reached
down to squeeze a fat specimen of his beautiful porcini, but he pointed a
finger at me and said, gently, but firmly, “non tocare.” In Montevarchi, we’re not allowed to touch
the produce at the market, but they offer tastes of most things, and he was
generous, threw an extra mushroom into my bag, and an additional tomato as
People are kind here.
I could site so many examples. On
our first day exploring Montevarchi, in pouring rain, Julie & I got lost
& stopped into a café to ask directions to our home. A young man examined my map, then looked
outside at the rain, and said, “Wait here, please.” A few minutes later he pulled up in his
little Fiat & drove us home.
Before I go
further I need to apologize for what I said about Tuscan Pizza. It’s not thick & bready, but thin &
crisp the way I like it, with great toppings; as good as it gets. You just need to know where not to go. I now know the good pizza places in
Montevarchi – and, (grazie Francesco) I stand corrected.
my mind, however, about the salt-less, tasteless bread. They say it’s better to hold the parma ham, wipe
up sauces, and other salty foods, but I don’t agree.
The Tuscan sun has finally appeared, to show me what I’ve
missed for a month of cold, rain, & near-daily thunderstorms. I’d actually begun to rationalize my limited
travel ability to the weather.
But no, one needs a car in Tuscany no matter what the
weather. The train is fine, but too
limiting. I wish I was daring,
adventurous, and foolhardy enough to have rented one by myself, drive everywhere
I want to go, but I’ve finally come up against something I feel too old to do. I’m scared to drive alone in Italy. I need a driver, or a navigator, a road partner.
Not only would I wander the country-side, discovering where
to go along the way, I’d have destinations.
Termi di Saturnia, for example, rated
just this morning by Lonely Planet as #6 in its list of the “Top Hot Springs in
Europe.” That phrase really gets to me. I’d cross oceans for such an experience, but
alas, not the nine hours of public transportation, over mountains & through
valleys, for less than 200 miles. It
will not come to pass.
I did take the train back to Florence one afternoon this
week, to gaze again at its incomparable beauty - in the sunshine this time. I stopped for a cappuccino in Roberto Cavalli's
cafe on the via Tournabuoni, & observed the beautiful Italian women, serious
shoppers, wearing the most fabulous clothes, shoes & bags, step up to the
bar & throw back a quick cup of strong coffee. This experience told
me I need a whole new wardrobe.
So, now it’s ultimi
giorni – last days in Montevarchi.
How I loved this place! Peaceful,
relaxed, beautiful, authentic, non-polluted.
I’d forgotten what clean air smells like, & how to take things
slowly, look around, smell the jasmine, & enjoy the moment.
I’ll take the train back to Rome on Sunday, dine in one of
my favorite restaurants near the Piazza di Spagna, and leave the next morning
for home. Next time I go to Italy, I
swear not only will I have a driving partner, I’ll speak Italian.
amore & tanti baci,
|A slice of ham.|