Thursday, August 1, 2013


DAY 18, JULY 25, 2013
In a previous post I mentioned that luck is supposed to come in threes whether it's good or bad. Today, if I'd been in Vegas, I would have hit it big on the south side of good. The thunderstorm that missed at both Bagno Vignoni and La Foce hit Armena with two fists; trees down, broken umbrellas and an apartment filled with debris and water. We had closed the bedroom windows before we left but only so the room wouldn't bake in the afternoon sun. We hadn't thought about any approaching storm. The windows to the kitchen and our bathroom were left wide open. In the morning I discovered a bowl of fruit and another filled with onions and garlic that we had left in the window well swimming in water. In the bathroom Rick had left a pair of shoes on the floor that were now filled with enough water to be used as fishbowls. We had scheduled a ten o'clock meeting with Emmy's photographer in Buonconvento and I had several things I wanted to get done before the meeting. I thought a quick shower and then maybe an hour at the computer before I had to leave. First the shower - no hot water. No matter how far to the left I turned the handle I couldn't get the water temperature to rise above frigid. I had to bother the Saraceni's for help. Once the water was fixed and I had showered I sat down to prepare that days blog entry. About fifteen-sixteenths of the way through feverishly typing, converting text and entering images for the blog the computer decided it had had enough. It wasn't completely dead but it did that death moan that precedes a final gasp. Every time I tried to save or preview I got a window informing me of an error and I should try again later. I tried saving but to no avail. I had to shut down, all my Pulitzer winning writing down the drain. It appeared most of our problems were with the router and a product of the storm. After all my attempts at trying to save I was now looking at being about a half hour late for the appointment with Diego, the photographer. I jumped in the car and drove to Buonconvento, parked, raced to the photo studio only to find it was closed, bolted shut with no one around, the only thing I could see moving beyond the locked door was the screen set on Diego's computer. Back to the car and then back to Armena having accomplished next to nothing when I thought I had given myself a three-hour head start on the day. We had scheduled going to the Siena with the Vermeers around eleven. That boat had also sailed. By the time I got back the Vermeers had already left and Emmy was disappointed I had neither her photos nor any information on how to meet up with our friends already headed to Siena.
We drove to Siena alone, just the two of us. Rick had begged out of this adventure. I don't know if it was yesterday's rain but in the space of an evening all of the sunflowers had lowered their heads as if in a final farewell they had bowed their heads in tribute to our impending departure.
Siena was hot and I mean hot. We parked in the Il Campo parking lot right next to the Vermeers who arrived at the exact same time we did. We all walked the rollercoaster alleys stretching from the parking lot and leading to the center of town.
About three hundred meters away from the parking lot I discovered I didn't have my phone the one I've been using this entire trip as my camera. I am nothing without a camera in my hand. I'm like an addict. I thought I could just go on this once without it but as we got farther away from the car where I had hoped I had left it my picture taking index finger began to twitch so badly I had to hide it in my pants pocket. By this time I couldn't ask anyone to wait for me and they had all gone too far to make them turn around.
I had to wait until we got to Il Campo where I asked everyone to sit for a drink while I climbed back up the hill to our car and retrieved my phone cum camera. Luckily it was there and for the day that was the last of the "impossible moments".
Siena is a teenage girls shopping mecca and we had two of them in tow.
That afternoon in the sweltering heat we visited every dress shop, hat shop, beauty shop there was.
Anything with a saldi sign and that meant almost every store we passed.
We ended the day with a religious or architectural visit to the Duomo in Siena.
You can pick whichever type visit you want to think it was.
It looks a lot like Orvietto's big sister with its horizontal stripes and ornate facade.
That evening was another mandatory return to a restaurant just below the tip of Montelcino, Boccon di Vino. This pilgrimage has been on our agenda ever since we began visiting the farm. At our initial visit Stefania was supplying the restaurant with goat's milk for their ice creams. Since then, their son Julio, has put in a stint as sous chef and the families of the restaurant and the farm have been linked ever since.
This dinner included everyone at the farm these past two weeks. Baccon di Vino has one of the most magnificent views in all of Tuscany, panoramic views spanning from the far off lights of Pienza to the twinkling distant dancing flecks on the outskirts of Siena.
The terraced al fresco dining is unmatched to anywhere else we have ever been. Julio arranged for our appetizers and served as wine consultant throughout the dinner.
Course after course appeared on the arms of skilled waiters and waitresses who seemed more like family members taking their turn at serving the meal. The proportions on everything set before us was perfect to a gram. The wait time between them was enough to allow you to digest and then begin the salivation process for the next surprise. With a guest list of sixteen it was impossible for me to catalogue every plate, here's what I can share: the soup course - petto d'oca,
the appetizer sampling plates, the prosecco,
the first course - mine: ravioli all'ortica stuffed with pecorino a blend of wild herbs that give you a rash if you touch them before cooking without protective gloves and a sauce of pears, local honey and cream, the second course - againg mine: duck breast grilled with sautéed figs served on a bed of cheese and polenta, the wines,
the desserts - I had a semifreddo, the after dinner drinks, and the coffees.
There was no throwing in the towel on this meal. As much as I like to try new places, Boccon di Vino will always draw us back for one more taste of perfection.

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