October 17, 2017 – Tuesday, Arezzo-Excursion #4- Romena, Poppi and Stia
We have a very busy day today, as tomorrow we leave for Bologna. We visit three small hill towns and see some gorgeous countryside. In the evening, we return to Chef Lalla’s for our 4th cooking lesson.
Romena: the unrestored Monastery of Pieve
Romena is near the highest point in the Appenines, start of the Arno where water is clean and clear enough to swim – above the leather tanneries which pollute the river. The landscape is rolling hills and low mountains showing beautiful fall colors.
Stia – Pratovecchio area
We stopped for some shopping of woolen items in Stia and went on to Pratovecchio for another delicious luncheon. The scenery on our walk through the city reminded us that fall is on the way.
Poppi – we drove on after lunch to visit what appears to be a very livable castle on a hill, built by Count Guidi, dating back to the 10th century and maintained in the Guidi family until the 1440s. Battles between the Nobles and the feudal workers brought down this lifestyle. The Nobles could not hold their own against the feudal armies and eventually were simply eliminated. The site included a moat, a surrounding wall, a guard house, a courtyard, and a tower. The bells in the tower date from 1423 to 1722. Noted internal features include: a stone staircase, a balcony, original wooden ceiling, frescoes by Taddio Gaddi from the early 1300s, and especially noted is its library filled with medieval manuscripts and texts.
After a long day with rewarding vistas, we arrived back at our Arezzo hotel, Hotel L’Aretina, at 3:30 and were off by 4:30PM for our final cooking lesson with Chef Lalla. It was rewarding and delicious, as usual. Stuzzichini: Prosecco, melon balls wrapped in prosciutto, pear infused yogurt with peppercorns and cheese sticks.
Pasta: Fusilli – egg and flour pasta wrapped on sticks and allowed to dry; then cooked in water. After they have dried, the crew is busy removing the sticks before adding them to the boiling water. Nancy shows her skill by helping Chef Lalla stir the boiling noodles. The basil pesto is made and added to the fusilli. Oh my!
Meat: Veal, raised in a humane setting, braised and served with potatoes, riced and mixed with warm milk; then seasoned with salt and pepper.
After the veal is sautéed, the tomato sauce is made and it all comes together. The recipe is basic: butter, olive oil, garlic, diced tomatoes (canned). Let it simmer. The milk (latté) is heated to mix in with the potatoes.
Vegetable: The sweet/sour onions with raisins and pine nuts were delicious, as was the be-flowered salad.
Dessert: Vanilla pudding with carmelized almonds. Obviously, we saved room for this delicious treat.
Everything was served with appropriate wines. It was a long, delicious day, filled with historical buildings, scenic drives and ending with another wonderful evening of cooking, eating and drinking wine! La Dolce Vita!