Category Archives: Eating

Asparagi – asparagus – spargel

On to one of my favorite foods…asparagus in any form. And now is the season when it is plentiful. Happy days!

I am much better now, after a good nights sleep. I went out to the Saturday market for foraging. It happened again. I was standing, awaiting my turn at a vendor with eggs in a big bowl. I watched as each person ahead of me bought the eggs. When I arrived, there were none. The man said to me ”niente frittata oggi”. No fritatta today. Oh well.

But I did get a bunch of asparagus. I cooked it so it was still crisp and I had it for lunch, with, yes, an egg.

So, I promised I would tell you what I bought myself in Verona. You may have guessed already 🙂 asparagi bianchi. White asparagus. Spargel! Here it is! I bought a smaller bunch when we were recently in Milano in a swanky grocery and I paid – gasp – €23 for it. This was a much larger bunch and only €13. Plus the more desirable thick spears.

As you may know, we lived in Germany for 6 years in the 1990s. Our little dorf was called Worfelden. It was situated in the middle of extensive white asparagus (spargel) fields. We moved there in January, not exactly the growing season, but as time when on we observed some very strange farming methods. The sandy soil was hilled up higher and higher until it stood about knee high, and very smooth. We finally got clued in to the Spargel grown there. It is labor intensive. Harvested by hand. They walked the mounds looking for cracks which indicates a spear breaking through. They cut it off down low in the mound and pull the spear out. Then they re-smooth the soil. The spear must never see sunlight or it will not be white.

Springtime is known as Spargel Zeit in Germany. The vegetable is almost holy, the most revered of all vegetables. There are entire menus built around Spargel. The normal way to cook it is to simmer in water and butter until tender. It must cook for longer than green and has a more earthy, less grassy flavor. It is served with new potatoes and sometimes ham or fish with hollandaise sauce. Here is a picture of a spargel field in the harvest season.

Photo credit – WINE NAVI Germany

Anyway, maybe you understand my love of the vegetable a little more. I miss it.

I will cut the ends off.

Unlike green asparagus, the thicker the better as it must be pealed. The outer part is inedible. I have carried around my peeler especially made for white asparagus all these years.

You just hook it around the spear and go down the stalk and a thin layer is removed.

This was our dinner. It was good.

Buona domenica to all. Our weather is amazing right now but I hear a heat wave is headed our way(!)

Verona – trip report

This is another Trip Report so skip if you’re not interested!

Wednesday May 11
We decided to go to another city in Italy that we had never visited. Verona, city of lovers. Romeo and Juliet and all that…Shakespeare wrote plays based in Verona but he never visited.

We decided to drive mainly because it’s hard to reach by train. It would take six hours so we decided to drive. This presented its own set of problems because we wanted to be in the old city and parking is hard to find. I found a property with only 5 rooms but it had its own parking garage. It is an old Palazzo right in the Centro Storico. 

The drive was about 4 hours. Almost all on superstrade – the big highways with tolls. That is, once we got out of Umbria 🙂 Boring drive. We drove north up the Tiber valley into Tuscany and to the head of the valley where the mountains start. The highway is a real feat of engineering. It is raised on pilings the whole way. Under it, or to the sides, runs the old Roman route, still used for local travel. The mountains are very rocky, old and eroded with barren cliffs. Lots of evidence of past seismic activity. I am sure it is still active. There are also Terme – or thermal spring towns along the way. Old Roman baths and spas are still in use. I wish I knew more about geology and rocks.

We popped out of the mountains and we were in Emilia Romagna, said to be the best food in Italy. Home of Balsamic vinegar, Parma ham, Parmesan cheese etc. It is flat, flat, flat and quite industrial but also has acres of fruit trees. Bologna is the biggest and best known city. 

We got into the Veneto next, home of Venice. Passing through Padova/Padua and finally we arrived in Verona. By now the landscape had changed into hills and small mountains, Lake Garda, the largest lake in Italy is just nearby. And there were grapevines as far as you could see. Valpolicella comes from here, Soave, Prosecco, and one more Lugana.

The city of Verona has a lot of not so pretty suburbs, normal for Italian towns. They do have a good number of parks and green spaces. The Adige river flows through the town and there are numerous bridges. Our GPS took us into the old town, lots of people everywhere, and narrow streets. We found the hotel with only one wrong turn.

Palazzo Monga is beautiful. We were met by Jakub. It is a boutique hotel so there is no front desk always manned by people. We had to give them an arrival time so we would be met. Jakub wore a nice black suit, white shirt, tie, and bright white tennis shoes. His hair, dark, his smile, welcoming and his stubbled chin, perfect. The suite is large with a living room with dining space, big bedroom, large bath and large dressing room. The room has the biggest chandelier in the universe. I can’t figure out how they clean that thing! The ceilings are probably 18-20 feet high. Quite the place. Jakub brought us welcoming Prosecco’s and we left it to him to stow the Giallo Angelo in the car park.
We headed out for a walk and look-see. Pretty city. Great shopping. We stopped for a spritz. On our way home we found our restaurant for the first night, Trattoria Pompiere just a few blocks from our hotel.

It was beautiful.
Verona street
Wine seller.

After showers we headed to dinner which was really fun. The trattoria has been around a long time since the early 1900s. It is known for its meats and cheeses and traditional Veronese dishes. I was looking forward to the asparagus dishes. This is asparagus season and the region grows the famous white asparagus. I have loved what I call Spargel ever since we lived in Germany, many years ago. So I was over the moon with happiness. The white asparagus does not get south of the region. 

My appetizer was white asparagus with ham wrapped hard boiled eggs. Quite yummy. And I ordered the Pappardelle with beans. Special to the region beans called Bala Rossa. Luther got the Pappardelle and then Stinco di Maiale. We had a bottle of really nice Valpolicella. I got a scoop of pistacchio gelato and Luther got a grappa, which they told us were on the house. A fun dinner.

Inside of the restaurant
My white asparagus
Pappardella with beans

Thursday May 12
We sprang for the breakfast this morning. It is ordered a la carte, delivered at the time you specify  and you can order as much as you want for the price. Of course we ordered more than we could eat😁 so we have plenty left over for tomorrow. It will work out well.

We headed out for our walking tour of Verona. Luther was our tour guide. We started by going to Piazza Erbe. It was originally a Roman forum. The name erbe means herbs and it was known for various aromatic spices, herbs, coffees etc. imported from Venice where they had come from all over the world. There are many notable buildings and an impressive bell tower. The buildings span varied architecture, Romanesque, Neoclassical and Baroque. I will try to put in the captions below the pictures what they are (If I can remember!)

Piazza erbe.
Column from when Verona was ruled by Venice. The winged lion is the symbol of Venice, the lion of St Marks.
Torre dei Lambertio
Frescoed building on piazza.
Baroque Maffei palace

Behind Piazza Erba was Piazza dei Signori, or Lords Square. This square has a strong connection with Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. It was the setting where Bartolomeo della Scala banished Romeo to exile. Just past this piazza was Arche Scaligeri and the Scaligeri Tombs. Very impressive. I loved the horse and rider atop the church.

Arches in arches.
Lords square
Loved this mounted rider statue on the church spire.
Arche Scaligere.

Of course we had to see Juiliet’s balcony. It can be a madhouse full of tourists with long lines to get into the small piazza. We lucked out and it wasn’t too bad. Of course, it isn’t really Juliet’s balcony it was only addd in the 20th century for tourists, but thousands come every year to see it. 

Example of the crowds below Juliet’s balcony.
I got this picture just as a pretty girl came out on the balcony. She was pretty perfect, she could’ve been Juliet.

We walked on down to the main shopping street. along the way was this beautiful bougainvillea on a balcony.

On the shopping street I snapped this door handle on a dress shop.

Next we visited Piazza Bra. The biggest Piazza I’ve ever seen. It is home of the famous Arena di Verona. The arena still has opera and concerts of all types. It holds 15,000 about half of what it held during Roman times. I was a little disappointed that only one part of it is actually from the Roman era. We sat down for a glass of wine and for some good people watching. There were scads of school groups EVERYWHERE today. It is the season for field trips.

Piazza Bra and the Arena di Verona, the symbol of Verona

Next we crossed the Adige river, clear and fast moving and shallow. There were many what looked to be River Trout easily spotted. We used a medieval bridge called Ponte di Castelvecchio. Pedestrian and made of bricks. Once across we followed a pleasant walking path along the river. There were some very beautiful apartment buildings with pretty apartments with amazing river and old town views. Bet they’d set you back a bit. Crossing back over the river we were just near our hotel.

Roman arch with bit of Roman road beside the river.
See the grooves worn by chariots?
Adige river
Ponte di Castelvecchio
Busker

We went looking for a place for lunch, which was harder than I had anticipated but we found, on a small side street, Osteria “Le Vecete”. It was perfect. We sat outside and had a light lunch with wine. I had Spaghetti with pomodorini, buratta and basil. Luther had the octopus salad with olives, tomatoes and potatoes. Both were very good.

Osteria

Dinner at L’Oste Scura. All seafood. We decided on trying three oysters on the half shell each. I had some misgivings about ordering them since the last three times I did I got sick. Then we had the mixed seafood crudo and I had Scallops and Luther had Amberjack. The place was lovely. We sat outside and it was warm and low-lit. The service was great.

Terrace

After dinner we walked back to our street. We passed the below restaurant, super old fashioned looking but very cool. It was completely empty save for a lone waiter. We went to a small bar with tables outside so Luther could smoke a small cigar he bought. A fun evening.

Friday May 13
All good things sometimes come to a premature end. And they did for this trip. I did indeed get sick again during the night. I must have developed an allergy to Oysters. So sad as I did/do love them. They just don’t love me.

In the morning I didn’t feel I was up to sight seeing so we decided to head home early. I am very sorry not to finish our visit in Verona. We had planned to see the churches and then a Roman amphitheater with views of the town and then maybe the modern art museum. But we saw a lot and if you only have one day then our walking tour was perfect.
~~~~~~
I had to take photos of the coolest bidet I have ever seen. It was in our hotel bathroom. Such a good space saving idea. Bathrooms are required to have a bidet in Italy. In your home you must have at least one bidet, in one bathroom.

This is the closed up bidet.
It just easily pulled down.

I did buy myself a souvenir yesterday but you all will have to wait until my next post to see what it is. 🙂

Hah!

Remember last market day? Last Wednesday? When I got shut out? Well, today was a new day! Asparagus was available in abundance. And I got some! I also got new garlic(!) and the first local strawberries.

I am looking forward to using these.
Very mild, but unmistakably garlic.
They could be sweeter…but it’s early in the season yet.

Mmmmm looking forward to using all these! 🌈

Carciofi in Umido

Since today is the last day of April, I wanted to do a post showcasing a dish from the book “The Tuscan Year”. As you may recall, I have been doing an excerpt from the book each month. The month of April was dedicated to Easter. The traditions are strong. Easter Saturday is the traditional time to plant vegetables. Beans, peas, zucchini, carrots, onions, potatoes, parsley and basil.

When this book was written in the 1980s, the parish priest still visited households to bless the house and family during Holy Week. An ancient tradition. The house was cleaned, top to bottom and the Priest sprinkled holy water into each room. Later the Priest returned for a big lunch after visiting other houses. Blessing is apparently hard work!

The culinary traditions are also strong for the Easter Feast. The Primi, or pasta course is always the celebratory dish, Lasagna. Roasted lamb is always the Secondi. Artichokes, in abundance at this time, were prepared multiple ways as part of the antipasto. I decided to try to make the Carciofi in Umido, stewed artichokes. Lets hope this one has better results than my disastrous frittata in March. 😂
~~~~~~

Recipe – Carciofi in Umido
Four Roman artichokes
50 gr butter
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tablespoons minced parsley
salt and pepper

Trim the artichokes of the stems and outer leaves. Enlarge the hole at the top, between the leaves. Dice the cold butter, mince garlic and parsley and mix together. Add salt. Place some of this mixture inside each artichoke. Put a very little olive oil and a spoon of water into a pan. Place the artichokes in, leaves facing down. They should fit tightly in the pan so they won’t fall over. cover with greaseproof paper and cover the pan tightly. Steam them gently. They are done when the stem end can easily be pierced with a knife. Serve with a little of the buttery garlic sauce which will have collected in the bottom of the pan.

Local Roman artichokes.
Leaves separated for stuffing.
Stuffed with butter and garlic.
Smallest pot I have.

Today, my lunch is stewed artichokes. They turned out delicious. Just right for a light lunch along with some of the Munster cheese from the French market.

Tomorrow is European Labor day. May Day. A holiday but since it is Sunday not a big thing. Buona domenica, and buona Festa dei Lavoratori!

Mercato Francese

Today is a beautiful, if cool day. We heard about a little French fest in Città di Castello, this is the next town north of us in the Tiber valley. Luther, myself and our friend Jen decided it would be a fun outing. Off we went in the brilliant sun and blue sky day.

Città di Castello is about twice the size of Umbertide. It has a complete ancient wall enclosing the old Centro Storico. It also has some beautiful towers and buildings.

Wisteria terrace!

We park in a free parking lot. It is just outside the walls. There is a crosswalk and a small door through the wall and then escalators up. It is not that far because Città is not a hill town. You come out in a lovely park just next to the Duomo. Then it’s a short walk to the main piazza. All the vendors are French. It was nice to hear French. We first came to a spice and tea vendor. These two are the ones I bought. They smell devine!

We walked. And looked. We were here on the first day of the fair and many stands were not finished setting up. On the good side, there were no crowds. I am sure tomorrow and Sunday will be very crowded. We also bought French soap, mustard from Dijon, and cherry preserves. I bought a new scarf, because a lady can’t have too many scarves!

Suddenly! There were cheeses! Beautiful French cheeses. We used to live in Germany very near France. The Alsace was our favorite place. Lo and behold there was Munster cheese. It must hold the prize for the stinkiest cheese. But it has a lovely mild taste. It has been many years since I had it. I bought half a round of it. and another very pretty cheese. Here’s a picture.

The next stand had a guy behind a plastic partition with multiple ovens and he was producing the most amazing things to eat. I bought a lovely baguette and a seeded bread to go with the cheeses. We bought lunch, I got a baguettino with goat cheese and almonds. Jen got the same. Luther got an individual quiche Lorraine. All very yummy.

It was an excellent outing to enjoy this cool spring day.
~~~~~~~
Today, we also have an apartment viewing at 6 o’clock. We have been working very hard to not open the frig because inside lives the Munster cheese. And honestly, it can permeate the entire house with its pungent aroma in an instant! Could be off putting to potential buyers. 😁

Buono fine di settimana…much easier to say have a good weekend!

Catching up…

It’s been a while…so to do some recap. We have been working on the Certificato d’abilita’ and I will report back once we have gotten it. I visited the Saturday mercado which was pretty sparse. The vendors who came had very limited produce because we are at the changing seasons. One vendor, who wasn’t there yesterday, had sweet radishes last week (I know, an oxymoron but it this case true ) and also local asparagus, so I was hoping for that. I was sorry he wasn’t there.. I settled for local potatoes, onions, lettuce and spring onions.

After my shopping we had a meet up with friends who live in Foligno. We hadn’t seen each other since pre-Covid…about four years. We met up at Ristorante UNE for lunch. I posted about this restaurant recently. It did not disappoint. Here are pictures of our lunch.

Gifts from the chef
Pancake stuffed with cheese and topped with grape jelly
Trumpet mushroom with white truffles and sour cream
Local artisanal beans with smoked eel from Trasimeno lake – amazing
Lamb with cauliflower two ways
Dessert – pain perdu with gelato.

Today I made a soup. It is cold and very windy outside. It feels like soup weather. Soon, it won’t be soup weather anymore. The soup is made from a legume native to central Italy, so it is not something a person can make elsewhere. The legume is Cicercchie. I posted about it previously. It must be soaked and rinsed for 24 hours because it has neurotoxins. They are not dangerous if not eaten everyday. If you visit Italy keep an eye out for some.They are delicious. Here is the previous post.

My soup today is super easy. Cook a chopped onion until soft. Add water or stock and soaked and drained (several times) Cicercchie legumes plus 3 peeled and cut into chunks potatoes, salt and a sprig of rosemary. Cook 1+ hours until the soup is thickened. Adjust salt, add plenty of ground pepper. Serve with parsley, good olive oil and cheese if desired. So good, and healthy too.

Buona domenica a tutti!

Long term Permesso – the saga continues

In Italy, there is a word they use often, ”Lo stress”. Yes, it means exactly what it sounds like – The Stress. Today, we are dealing with lo stress of dealing with the Italian bureaucracy once again.

If you’ve been reading this journal for a while you know of what I speak. For those who don’t know — a short recap. When you move to Italy, after you get your Visa, the first thing you need to do is apply for your Permesso di Soggiorno (Permit to Stay – PdS). It should be done within eight days of your arrival. I won’t go into details of how you get one but suffice it to say it takes time, several appointments, and money. In Umbria, one must apply to renew it every year before it expires. The process can take a year and then you begin again. The light at the end of the tunnel is the possibility, after five years continual residence, of getting the Permesso di soggiorno UE per soggiornanti di lungo periodo (ex carta di soggiorno) – elective residence. This is a permanent long term permit to stay. Need I say this is a coveted thing?

We will have lived here eight years in June. We are past due for this card. Covid interfered with us pursuing this. We tried last year but two documents were expired. So this year, we try again. Today was our appointment at the Questura. We expected to find out if we would be getting the Card. I bet, no matter how thorough you try to be when you apply, they will find something that you missed. Today, we found out the two things that we are missing.

One item is a document from our Comune which attests to the fact that our house meets the standards for two people to live here. We had our Geometra do the assessment and we included this in the packet, apparently, they need this other form. We visited the Ufficio Technico where we found out what to bring to get this document. Fifteen minutes later we returned with said papers and the office was locked. We checked the hours. They were supposed to be open. Sigh. Happens all the time. We will try again tomorrow. Comically, I can look right into this office from my Living Room window!

The second item is a 2022 tax form certifying our income from 2021. We contacted our commercialista – she said the form does not exist until June. And that the 2021 form is in force. Sigh. I think we should just take the email we got and the form for last year back to the Questura. Luther says he will call them.

To be honest, I think this is not too bad. It looks like we will, eventually, have these two items. The only issue is when…and whether, in the meantime, those two time sensitive forms will expire — again. It is always something!
~~~~~~
Let’s talk about something more fun. I am a notoriously poor baker. But I threw caution to the wind and decided to make a quiche for dinner last night. First hurdle was making the crust. I tried a recipe I had and miracle of miracles, it came out perfect! Then I used another recipe for quiche I but substituted the vegetables, using some things I got at the market yesterday. I used leeks, mushrooms and broccoli rabe. It called for cheddar cheese but that’s very hard to come by around here. So I used the cheese most common here, pecorino fresca. I added an extra egg and a little more cream because the eggs here are not graded by size. No such thing as extra large eggs. These were fresh eggs from local chickens. Anyway, the quiche came out perfect and it tasted great. I served it with a green salad…a perfect dinner.

Castiglion Fiorentina

We decided to take a little drive today to explore just over the mountains from here in Tuscany. The town is Castiglion Fiorentina, a town if 17,000 just south of Arezzo. It is about the size town we like and it is on the main rail line. Arezzo is a beautiful, and pretty large city, which is definitely off the beaten track and well worth a visit. They have a famous antiques market held the first weekend of every month.

We had the bad luck to arrive right in the middle of an enormous motorcycle rally and off-road competition. The town is a hill town but somehow they managed to accomodate hundreds of large campers and trailers, caravans and motorcycles in its parking lots up near the old town. We managed to wend our way through all the ruckus and come out the other side. We visited the more modern lower town and explored the railway area. I was not terribly enamored. We are scoping out places we may want to move someday.

When we returned home I did a little research. I had taken this picture of a statue in a traffic circle. Now I understand the motorcycle event. Fabrizio Meoni was a famous motorcycle racer who came from this town. He died in a crash in 2005.

It was time for Pranzo. We decided to have lunch in Enoteca Meucci. An enoteca and restaurant in the small town just beneath Cortona. The restaurant is just one year old. The enotecca has tastings and tours and has been open 2 years. I liked it. I didn’t love it. But I will go back if I am in the neighborhood. Pictures…

Buona domenica!

Visitors

We have had visitors the past few days. They arrived in Malpensa in Milano and made their way to us on the train. They have a house in Basilicata, in the south. They will head off to Rome tomorrow and from there, onward to their wee house. Unfortunately the weather was pretty awful so we didn’t do too much. We did manage a nice lunch on Sunday at Calagrana.

Delizioso risotto!
My friend

Finally today, Monday was a nicer day. Blue skies and warm if you’re in the sun. We had decided to visit a house that a friend of ours is buying on Monte Subasio between Assisi and Spello. The house has spectacular views. It has it’s own olive grove. It is springtime so everything is green and flowery.

Home to be…
What a view!

We decided to stop into Santa Maria degli Angeli. It is the town just beneath Assisi, which sits on the mountain above it. It is an important catholic center. The basilica was constructed between 1569 and 1679, enclosing the 9th-century little church, the Porziuncola, the most sacred place for the Franciscans. It was here that the young Francis of Assisi understood his vocation and renounced the world in order to live in poverty among the poor, and thus started the Franciscan movement. St. Francis died in the Porziuncola in 1226.

This is the Porziuncola inside the enormous space that is the Basilica.
The fresco inside the little church.

We walked around the little town a bit then we went to a small restaurant and had a nice lunch. A nice day with friends…at last ☀️

Trip report – short trip to Milano

If you don’t like Trip Reports you can skip this one.
WARNING: this post includes a LOT of food pictures 😁
~~~~~~~~
We left home Tuesday morning at 9:30 to catch a train from the Terontola/Cortona station. This is around a 30-40 minute drive from our house. It is on the main Rome Florence line and has free parking.

The local train from Terontola to Florence was 15 minutes late. Our transfer time in Florence from our train to the Frecciarossa to Milano was….15 minutes! 😳 We went as fast as possible. The train was a little late so we managed to get on. Whew. I adore the Frecciarossa trains. They reach speeds of 300 kph and have four classes of seats. We always go in the Area Silenzio. The quiet car. Business class. Super comfy seats.

We arrived in Milano and grabbed a taxi. All of the taxis we took here had very garrulous drivers. We got to our hotel, the Spadari al Duomo which is really nice. We stayed here on our one and only other visit to Milano. It is very close to the Duomo. Our room was nice with a balcony and a bathtub, which Luther loves. The only odd thing was our artwork in the room. A bit unsettling. Slug women. 😳

We immediately set out for a giro around the neighborhood. We found and visited the famous Galleria Vitoria Emanuele II. A shopping *mall* under high glass domes. Very fancy. I took a bunch of photos of the fancy wares…and some not-so-fancy wares.

The hat below. It looks like a hat I’d wear fishing. Prada. €460.00. Uh huh, right.

Surprisingly I didn’t buy anything. But Luther bought a book and some Cuban cigars. Afterwards, on the advice of one of the nice folks who read this journal and leave comments, we went to Aperol Terrazza. It is up on the 3rd floor and has outside space just next to the famous Duomo. They are known for the ubiquitous drink, the Aperol Spritz. I chose something different but we sat outside and it was a fun thing to do. They had nice heaters that keep people warm-ish.

View from the bar.

Walking through the enormous space in front of the Duomo we noticed some young men. I was taken by the outfit of one of them!

We returned to check out the shop next to our hotel. It is like a very, very upscale gourmet market. It has a big basement area with wines. Upstairs there is a produce area, candy area, all kinds of prepared foods, veggies, meats, seafoods, salads, the biggest cheese selection I’ve ever seen, bread and some cured meats.  Cool place where you can drop big bucks.

Back in our room and while waiting for dinner we ordered a bottle of wine and had a glass before we took a taxi to our restaurant which was chosen by Luther, the Ristorante Niko Romito in the Hotel Bulgari.

Just before we arrived we came to a gate. No one is getting in if they are not expected or a taxi. I realized this was a super high roller enclave. Then we went down a short street which dead ended into a botanical garden. The hotel was secluded and quiet. There was a circle in front of the hotel and all around they had crammed in cars. Parking is scarce in Milano and there aren’t many hotels which offer it. And let me tell you, these were not your everyday Chevy. There was a gorgeous Lamborghini next to a Bentley. And a very odd car which was a two seater with a huge whale tail and air scoops you could put a small child into. It was right hand drive with British plates.

Anyway, I digress. Inside the people were friendly. The restaurant was beautiful. And the service perfect. It was a very good dinner. One of the best I’ve had. Here are pictures of the dining room. The wine we had and the gifts from the chef. Lots of good breads and a good strong olive oil. Bread sticks and crackers. They brought a bowl of broth they were very proud of. The list of what went into it was long and interesting. The actual product tasted a lot like Swanson chicken broth…🙂 Sorry Niko! My antipasto was a raw shrimp dish under shaved citrusy lettuce. The sauce was sublime. Then a sea bass which also was wonderful. Finally I had the marscapone ice cream with sour cherries. Perfect ending. Pictures! (Captions at the bottom)

Interior from our table. Reminded me of a cruise ship.
The broth they seemed so proud of…and the breads
My shrimp…sooooo good.
Veal Milanese…Luther couldn’t resist
My sea bass. I also ordered turnip greens sautéed in olive oil and garlic as a side.
Gelato with sour cherries

Wednesday March 16
Today we had many plans and reservations for tours. We skipped breakfast and headed out for our appointment to see the Duomo. We had ordered an audio tour. Things did not go as planned. We went into the cathedral, which I must say was pretty darned magnificent. The columns supporting the roof and separating the nave were like looking through a forest of giant redwoods. They are each 50 yards tall. Half a football field! We realized we couldn’t get the audio tour inside and each had to go out to get it. The guard would only let one of us go at a time. I went first, managed to get the guide and return but then the *outside* guard didn’t want to let me back in. After a long argument he let me in. Then Luther got his and returned. By that time a funeral had begun and all the interesting parts of the Duomo were closed off. Bad luck. But we used the audio tour the best we could and explored inside and out.

Like a forest
On the way past the Duomo I loved this hopeful sign of spring in front of the glorious cathedral.

Afterward we headed to Santuario di San Bernardino alle Ossa, a church with an ossuary of hundreds of bones. Interesting to see. 

Then we circled back and tried to visit another church but it was closed. We bought some sandwiches for lunch because we wanted to save ourselves for dinner.

Along the way

At 3:45 we had reservations at Santa Maria delle Grazie to see Michelangelo’s Last Supper. We have all seen prints of the fresco of course, but to see it in person — it was pretty amazing.

On our way back I passed a store with beautiful jewelry. All hand made, one-of-a-kind pieces. I decided to buy a pendant. I love it!

My pendant.

Dinner at a Michelin one star Restaurant – IYO. The only one star Michelin Japanese restaurant in Italy. My choice and we decided to both go for the nine course “let them just feed us” menu. We really aren’t terribly savvy at Japanese food. Except Sushi.

OK, here come the food pictures…they are works of art really. I can remember the taste of every one of them when I look at these. I hope you enjoy looking at them if only for the artistry!

Oysters tempura in a bernaise sauce a bit of cooked celery and a tiny cup of gin.
Squid that was sliced to look like spaghetti twirled in a circle topped by a quail egg yoke topped with fish eggs in a fish sauce broth.
Sushi from scallops sea bass and other fish whose names I didn’t catch.
Tuna on rice with wasabi in a crisp seaweed wrap.
Crispy seaweed wrap topped with raw chopped fish with caramelized sugar underneath.
Stracciatella cheese on raw tuna
Linguini with fish eggs and baby clams. It had a very buttery taste.
An entire hen’s egg rolled in panko and fried. Served in a salty sauce. It came to the table in an enormous egg!
Hen’s egg after I broke it open. Amazing how good an egg can be!
Crispy pork belly.
Japanese BBQ beef (wow). My first time to have Kobe beef.
An airy ball of white — like eating air
Dessert

By this time I was stuffed even though the courses were small. We tried a bottle of Saki which was not much to my liking. It wasn’t very robust in flavor, rather kind of bland. I read that out of the three beverages – beer, wine, saki – it has the highest alcohol content. Odd.

It was an incredibly amazing dinner.  It was great to try new things.

Thursday March 17
I wonder if they celebrate St Pats today 🙂 🍀 It dawned gray and dreary today. A bit chilly. This hotel has an excellent breakfast. About anything you could wish for. We had ours and headed out to see two churches.

First was Chiesa di San Mauricio Al Monastero Maggiore known for its frescoes. It did not disappoint.

Interior
I really liked this one. Click to enlarge and see all the animals…even Unicorns!
Another Last Supper
I just loved this little detail

And next was Basilica di Sant’Ambrogio. Rather austere. It was very old dating to Roman times and it was just next to the Roman city that Milan was back then. There are a lot of archeological relics that have been dug up in the area which are now in the Basilica.

We walked back to our hotel so I could change clothes for our lunch. Today, we decided to have lunch instead of dinner. We went to another Japanese place called Wicky’s. Also excellent food. We had two starters which we split – Sashimi and Mare Spicy. Raw seafood but the Spicy had a lot of different spices and herbs. The we split the Angus Spicy, and the Magica which is Sea bass.

Friday March 18
We bought a few things in Milan, it was hard not to! There are amazing amounts of luxury goods on offer every time you turn your head. Little shops that specialize in one or two things. Like the glove and sock shop. Or the sea sponges and back scrubbers shop. Tailors and shoemakers who will make anything to order — just for you. There were the most beautiful linens, sumptuous bedding. I saw a shop that only sold pajamas. For example of the style here…this is an upholstery and bespoke clothing shop. Isn’t this amazing?

When we checked out of our very nice hotel, the very friendly and enthusiastic front desk clerk asked the perennial and every popular “perché Umbertide?!” I cannot tell you how many people have asked us that since we moved here.

We took the Frecciarossa fast train to Florence. It arrived around 15 minutes late. Late enough that we missed our connection. Oh well. There is a train every hour so not terrible.

It was an excellent trip. The weather was not bad, it was just gray and chilly. I don’t think Milano gets alot of sun. We loved our hotel and the location, and we loved the food. The people were all very nice. I don’t think I will go back because there are many more places still to see. But it wouldn’t be because I didn’t enjoy my stay there.