Archive | 5:55 am

val d’orcia

25 Sep

On our drive from Pompeii, after Ari conked out, John handed me a folder of well-organized travel documents–printed copies of all our room reservations, our flight information, our car rental agreement, etc.  Nestled between the boring confirmations (I am profoundly grateful that John rocks at this stuff so my talents can be, well, demonstrated elsewhere), was this article that John had dug up, but had not yet read.  Of course, the kid doesn’t remember how he even came across the article, but he printed it out on the off chance that it might be helpful.

Damn, he’s good.

Danielle Pergament’s account of her foray in Val d’Orchia with her husband and new baby inadvertently became our tour guide.

We couldn’t complain about the almost four-hour nap Ari took in the car between Pompeii and Val d’Orchia, but the last 45 minutes, once we got off the highway and she finally woke up, were miserable.  After trying to sooth her, sing to her, even tempt her with treats, all the while she screamed and writhed against the straps of her carseat, I finally released her and held her for the rest of the trip.  There wasn’t another soul on the back country roads, but I was still nervous that a tire striking a rock at just the right angle might create a collision between our heads and the window–I made John drive painfully slowly.  We needed exact coordinates to find Angela and Olimpia’s “farm”, a few kilometers up an unmarked, dirt road.  And when we thought we were surely lost in the mountains, with night descending, John just got out of the car to look for the farm on foot, quicker at that point than our trusty rental could dare.  Well worth it all:


After stopping by the local Coop (which the Italians pronounce “cop”) for some staples, we enjoyed a glass of Brunello di Montalcino with local pecorino, just as Pergament directed, on our own patio.  And then we ventured to the Rocca d’Orcia for dinner.


John ordered rabbit, and I ordered wild boar, and we could not guess which one Ari loved more–the alternating bites could not come fast enough!

The next morning we took our time.  We got down to the Abbey of St. Antimo around midday and listened to Gregorian chant echoing over the stone walls.

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Over the course of the trip, we would ask each other periodically what our favorite part had been so far–we could never decide.  But out favorite meal: Il Leccio atop the mediaeval town of Sant’Angelo in Colle.  No question.  It is worth a trip; you will eat well here.  John got their famous spinach and ricotta ravioli in a butter and sage sauce, while I got one of their many veal variations.  I would have licked the plate.


We couldn’t help ourselves, as we slid into the driveway of the Ciacci Piccolomini d’Aragona, a family-run vineyard.  And we loaded our car with a nice brunello and a grappa to take back home.


Then we satisfied the Twilight fan in me by visiting Montepulciano, where New Moon was filmed.  (So, how many readers would I lose if I admitted to devouring the books in the post-MCAT haze of 2009.  Crack literature.  It’s so, so bad, but I could not stop.  A weight was lifted when I finally got rid of the series in this purge.)  But in all seriousness, every street of this town was picturesque, every view of the surrounding mountains, vineyards, and farms was beyond words.

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