After our robbery, and the unbelievable heat in August, it was a pleasure to leave the city. We rented a car and drove north from Rome through Tuscany and into Emilia Romagna where Fidz is originally from. It was gorgeous driving through Tuscany with its rolling hills, cypress trees and beautiful light. Our lunch stop was in Montepulciano, a medieval walled town and the highest hill town in Tuscany. The region immediately adjacent is home to the Vino Nobile grape and need I say that lunch of sopa di ceci (chickpea soup) and pici (handmade pasta) with duck sauce together with the Montepulciano wine almost made us halt our journey and spend the rest of the day sipping. However, we controlled ourselves and drove on into the mountains of Emilia Romagna where Fidz’s step-mom was waiting for us for dinner with two types of homemade tortelli. Tortelli di zucca is stuffed with a puree of squash and tortelli verde is stuffed with spinach. Of course this was washed down with Lambrusco, a delicious, slightly sparkling red wine, served chilled. The drop in temperature in the north was a welcome relief and it was wonderful seeing the mountains and forests and visiting some of Fidz’s childhood friends. My Italian has improved somewhat so at least I have some idea of what the conversation is about and I can now put in a comment at the right time instead of thinking of something relevant to say about 5 minutes after the conversation has moved on! We also squeezed in a day on the beach in Portovenere in Liguria about 2 hours away. Portovenere is a beautiful small town with houses painted in warm pastel colours and is the gateway for boats to the Cinque Terre. The coastline is spectacular and much more beautiful than the south of France in my opinion. Another day trip to the east side of Emilia Romagna took us to Ravenna in the Po valley. Once the western capital of the Roman empire with Constantinople being the eastern capital, the Byzantine mosaics in the churches were incredibly beautiful.
On the way back, we stopped in Orvieto in Umbria for lunch. My only knowledge of Orvieto is the wine but there is a fine cathedral there built starting from 1290 which is supposed to be one of the best examples of Italian Gothic architecture. Sadly, we did not have our cameras (see “A Minor Misfortune”) so the only two pictures we have are the ones you see here which were taken with a cell phone. Not bad for a cell phone and I wish I had taken more but to be honest, I was so pissed off at not having my camera that although we saw the most beautiful scenery, I was not in a mood to take pictures!