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Cortona, Italy-Monday October 25 8 am

It is now Monday and I apologize for leaving you hanging for so long. Even here in Cortona it is difficult to get a good signal and timing has been very difficult with the long days. I will catch you up as best I can in the next 45 minutes and post, then try to do it again tonight or tomorrow morning.

On Friday the 22nd we were in Neive still, in Piedmont, and the weather was still really nice. Today was hazy and chilly, but still a really lovely fall day. We piled into Fabio’s wonderful bus and went out the vineyards of Eugenio Bocchino. You may remember his wine label, it had a picture of his wiener dog ‘Tom’ on the label (not a photo, a red Dachshund,)who has since passed away. Tom’s son Romeo was there to greet us though and Eugenio’s wife Cinzia gave us a tour of their winery. They invited us into their home dining room to taste their delicious wines and to tell us about how they make them. This man is very particular and has been making wine, or learning, since he was about 7 years old and he is now 42. He was a bit shy, or perhaps a better word is humble, and you could tell he was not as comfortable talking about himself as some of our other friends are here. After the tasting we headed up to the town of Barolo (yes, it is where the wine comes from) and I was surprised by this little hill town.

It is a small village and there were many tourists there, which is the part that surprised me. In spite of that it was very charming and several of our group went into the corkscrew museum. A few of us just walked around and enjoyed the views of the vineyards, and then had a nice light lunch at a cafe. I discovered a wine called Favarito, that is typical to this region, and it is a nice white wine to enjoy with a light lunch. Fabio took us over to La Ghersa, which the rest of the group had not yet seen, and we enjoyed another tour and tasting of their great family wines. We also saw how they barreled up the ‘must’, the left over skins, seeds, etc, and get it ready for distilling grappa. We didn’t know it yet but this was a great segue to the grappa distillery that we visited the next day.

When we were getting ready to leave Anna brought her cat down to visit us. She has a Maine Coon, and he weighs 35 lbs! I can’t wait to show you the pictures of this cat! He is the size of a toddler and has the sweetest face! Later we had another big dinner at a lovely little restaurant and the best part was the wonderful antipasti platter. The ‘plate’ was a 12×12 granite tile, and there were 9 little tastes of different things on it. An omelet, veal with tuna sauce (I know it doesn’t sound great but IT IS! It was my favorite taste on the plate!), carne crudo, a little sausage on polenta, and so much more. I was thrilled with the little taste of polenta since this is the region where it is grown and made, and yet we had not had the opportunity to taste any yet.

On Saturday we got up and headed to the city of Alba, and their Saturday market. First we walked through their gorgeous cathedral, done in the neo gothic style, and then we went to the market. This is a huge market that runs from the main square and up and down several streets around it. Much like the market in Asti, though I did not find any food vendors like we did in Asti. There were many wine makers, honey, bread, sausage, cheese and more, but not like in Asti. We had heard that the truffle festival was going on in one of the areas of town and so we hunted it down. We left Mark’s mom sitting on a bench with all our bags and went in for what we thought would be a few minutes. They gave us a commemorative wine glass and we got 2 tastes of the festival wine, plus several wine makers offered tastes as well. There were truffles everywhere, both the black and the very valuable white, all displayed like diamonds in cases with black velvet and silver trays. It was beautiful in there and smelled like heaven! There were other vendors selling pastas, jams, cheese, bread, sausages and anything else they could think of to make with truffles, or to compliment truffles. There was food for sale and featured dish was 2 eggs over easy (they were PERFECTLY cooked), with a pile of white truffles grated over the top. OH. MY. I cannot describe it well-it was sublime. They also sold pastas and other dishes with truffles, but I believe the best way to have them is with eggs, so we did. Fresh, gently flavored and oh so riche!

I have to run now, I will post more soon and get you more caught up. We are off to the city of Cortona! Ciao for now!