Rita and I were able to squeeze in two private cooking classes at the villa with Elisa. We are more impressed with Elisa every time she visits us. Of course, we knew that she teaches cooking at the University in Florence and from our other classes we knew that she was very good at cooking. But, we have learned so much about the history of food, the cuisine of Italy, nuances of using different spices, herbs and techniques from Elisa. She is a real jewel and we were lucky to have her. At our lessons, we learned to make asparagus risotto, lemon crème chicken, and yellow pepper soup. We have practiced several of Elisa’s recipes on our own, and they have been very good and not that difficult to make. We can’t wait to try them out on friends, family and neighbors in Indiana.
After saying good-bye to the Ft. Wayne group who headed off to Venice, we set off on a short weekend road trip. We visited, what else, mountain top villages, medieval towns, and walled cities. Our first stop was Colle di Val D’Elsa. Today Colle is known for the production of glassware, some 15% of the world’s production, but we were there for the “centro historico”, which sits behind a wall on a mountaintop and has narrow paved streets and many old palazzos.
From Colle, we drove through St. Galgano, which is a church and old abbey. We kind of stumbled upon St. Galgano. But, we were delighted to have found it. Apparently, the Italians claim the sword in the stone story to take it from the English. Three hundred years before King Arthur, Merlin (and the English version of the sword in the stone), there was St. Galgano and his sword in the stone. When he gave up his worldly life to become a hermit, he drove his sword into a stone that was described as “parting like butter”. The sword in the stone is still there and we visited it.
From St. Galgano, we drove through Montemassi, a small village with a fort on top of a mountain,
and then onto Porto Ercole, which is a small fishing village resort on the Mediterranean Sea and spent the night.
We had a lovely visit to the harbor, a fish dinner, which has been rare, and a stroll around the boutiques with the required gelato for dessert.