Tuesday, September 23

Steve: For the first time since we've been here in Tuscany, we woke up to clouds. We decided to postpone our trip with Roberta to Southern Tuscany until Thursday, especially since the weather calls for scattered rain today and tomorrow. This gave us the opportunity to head back to Florence this evening, have a relaxing dinner, stay in a hotel, and have a full day on Wednesday to visit museums and churches. We also took advantage of the extra time today to allow David and Katie to continue their school work, and to spend time as a family reviewing and discussing information about Renaissance art and architecture.

The wine harvest continues here at Monaciano. They've started using a mahine that shakes the grapes from the vines, and then conveys them into a tractor that drives along side. We think that the workers here are amused about how interested we appear to be in this whole process!

We drove to Florence late this afternoon. After checking in at our hotel near the train station, we immediately were ready to eat. So...we decided tonight to treat ourselves to a wonderful meal at La Giostra in Florence. This restaurant had been highly recommended to us by several people, and this was some of the best food we've had in Italy. We all had three courses, which was probably too much food - however, there are so many enticing things on the menu that it's hard to not order antipasto, a first-course pasta, plus a main course of meat or fish. In addition, before we even began our antipasto, we were served a wonderful tray of appetizers prepared by the chef. La Giostra is also well-known for its wine list, and we indulged for the first time in a Brunella (we even called Roberta at her home for a quick consultation regarding the 1998 vintage!).

The David's Download appearing below contains some of David's personal perspectives regarding food in Italy. The pictures we've included here are chronological and show him eating each of the courses from tonight's dinner!

Tomorrow we have a very full day planned exploring several museums and churches in Florence.

Distance Walked: 2.42 miles

David's Download - My Favorite Things in Italy

Italy has been the highlight of my trip so far. I love Italy for its unbelievable food, countryside, ancient Roman ruins, and passion for football (soccer). The combination of Roman pizza, rolling Tuscan hills, European football, and ancient ruins makes Italy one of the most amazing countries we have visited. Let me start by discussing Italy's food…

The food here in Italy is very difficult to describe, but I'll try to describe it as best I can without writing ten pages worth. IT'S WICKED GOOD!! IT'S WORTH CROSSING RIVERS FOR! IT'S TO DIE FOR!!! The thin Roman pizza smothered with thick buffalo mozzarella and light mouth-watering tomato sauce is so delicious, that it's literally gone in a heart beat. I've never eaten anything so fast in my life! The pasta is another story. Here's a tip if you go to Italy - the simple stuff is the best stuff! I ordered spaghetti with tomato sauce every night, and must have gained five pounds. It's so good, it's inexplicable. Another favorite of mine is bruschetta al pomodoro (appetizer). Bruschetta is basically toast with fresh tomatoes and olive oil on top, which gets your taste buds ready for the pizza and pasta to come. Another tomato dish is caprese salad, which is just thin slices of fresh tomatoes and mozzarella on a platter.

A normal Italian meal usually consists of four of five courses; antipasto (our appetizer), first course (pasta), second course (meat), salad, and finally dessert. The waiters at restaurants always look at us funny when we ask for the salads to come before our pasta and meat. I always try to keep up with my dad, and order as many courses as him and finish them all. If I succeed, I usually don't have any room for gelati (Italian ice cream). Gelati is twice as good as American ice cream since it has twice as much sugar!!!! We have been to gelaterias with over 100 flavors ranging from mango to marshmallow!

Italians eat things that are usually not eaten by Americans. One night we decided to take a chance and order octopus salads and pigeon soup! I didn't want to partake, and decided to get a salad with celery, carrots, and tripe. At first I thought tripe was a type of mushroom, but soon discovered it was nothing of the sort. Since I liked carrots and celery and there was nothing else that I liked in the antipasto section, I decided to try it. When I told the waiter that's what I wanted, he winced at me and said, "are you sure, it has beef intestine (tripe)?" I never dreamed of eating intestine, but my family convinced me. I pictured just a little piece of intestine surrounded by carrots and celery, and told myself it wouldn't be so bad. To my disbelief, I received a huge mound of shredded intestine with unnoticeable celery and carrot pieces mixed in. I forced myself to try it, and it actually pretty good. The texture was squishy and rubbery, which is exactly how I expected intestine to feel like. I also tried some pigeon soup and pasta with octopus tentacles-it was quite an adventurous meal!

If you haven't been to Italy and think you've tried REAL Italian food, you're wrong. To try true Italian food you just have to come to Italy yourself! Since this "download" is getting long, I want you to stay tuned for more about why I love Italy in my next update.












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