We spent the second week of Lil' C's spring break exploring the Tuscany & the Emilia Romagna region of Italia. Oh, how I love Italy. I love everything about it... the incredible landscape, beautiful language, friendly people, fabulous food. It's all good. If only I could live there!
This trip was all about food. While reading some travel books I discovered Bologna is known as Italy's gastronomic capital. And let me tell you it did not disappoint. Our trip mainly revolved around food. It was great although my jeans were definitely a little snug boarding the plane back to Belgium! lol!
After arriving in Bologna in the late afternoon we hopped into our rental car and made our way to Bagni di Lucca. Our GPS took us the craziest route ever. The drive was beautiful because it was completely in the mountains but it was the roads were so windy it was impossible to gain any speed. We drove through the most charming little towns.
We had reservations at a Agritourismo, (a working farm) near Lucca.
It was the first time we've ever stayed at a farm and I wasn't sure
what to expect. But once we arrived I absolutely fell in love with the
Massimo, the owner, is extremely passionate about his village (as he
calls it). Years ago the area was actually a village with its own
inhabitants including members of Massimo's family. After World War II,
people began to leave the area due to lack of proper sewage system,
waterworks, electricity, and roads. When the last inhabitant died
Massimo purchased the village and has spent several years working on
renovations using modern bio-architecture concepts. Despite all these
wonderful renovations the village continues to keep it's charming
The twenty acre farm has all types of animals... horses, sheeps,
cinte senesi (a black, typical Tuscan pig), chickens and other animals
that can be found in the woods nearby. This agritourismo also has it's
own private 50 metre long bridge which leads to the main houses and its
When we arrived Daniella met us and gave us a warm greeting. Shortly after Massimo arrived and helped us carry our luggage to the main house while Daniella went off to finish preparing our dinner. Which was a wonderful surprise. After spending almost two hours driving through windy mountain roads the last thing I wanted was to jump back into the car to find a restaurant for dinner.
Before dinner was served Massimo showed us several photos of the
Agritourismo during all four seasons. Every season offered something
different... barbeques by the river, hiking through the mountains &
discovering huge chestnut trees that took 4-5 people to surround it,
rummaging through the forest to gather monster size mushrooms and big
family styled dinners.
Massiso also organizes plays and small concerts at the farm. Just talking to Massimo & Daniella (the cook) you could see how dedicated they were to create an independent, relaxing and peaceful place to vacation. Not only does Massimo keep busy with his Agritourismo but he is also a chemist. His family have been chemist for generations. In fact, his family is the oldest chemist in Italy and the second oldest in Europe. Massimo was definitely the kind of man that everyone knows in town. He's the President of various local associations, teaches at the University of Pisa, and writes several articles for the local paper. He was very inspiring.
Dinner the first night was incredible... a five course meal.
Delicious selection of antipasta, homemade pasta, fresh sausage,
chicken, cheeses, freshly baked foccacia bread, ricotta pie and of
course wine. We walked home very happy.
Daniella prepared a fabulous breakfast for us. For me what made this
breakfast even more special were the fresh cheeses and the blueberry
tart. All of the cheeses were locally produced. This morning we had a
Pecorino made my her uncle and fresh ricotta made from her father's
sheeps. I am now addicted to fresh ricotta. Every morning I would have
a big bowl and drizzle it with some of the honey made from the
Agriturismo's bee hives.
The following day we explored the Cinque Terre, an area I've wanted to visit for a while now. A few years ago I saw a photo of one of the villages and I immediately knew it was somewhere I had to visit.
We caught the train at La Spezia and decided to start the walking trail in a village called Riomaggiore. The Cinque Terre or "The Five Lands" is comprised of five villages: Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore. The coastline, the five villages, and the surrounding hillsides are all part of the Cinque Terre National Park and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The trails were really beautiful. We were able to explore three of the villages: Riomaggiore, Manarola, and Corniglia.
The path connecting Riomaggiore to Manarola s called the Via dell' Amore. I found this adorable couple everywhere.
Along the trail we found some really beautiful flowers.
S & Lil' C thought these flowers looked artificial.
There was also a spot where a few people were sun bathing. Next time we'll have to bring our bathing suits.
My favorite by far was Manarola. I just love the scenery.
After eating some gelato in Manarola we continued along the walking trail to Corniglia.
Corniglia reminded me of a sleepy little village. The trail wasn't
paved like the other two & we had to walk up 382 steps to get to
the village so we definitely needed another gelato break when we
I loved walking through the narrow cobble stone streets in Corniglia. Takes you back to a much simplier time.
More to come on our Italian food adventure.