SKC Abroad: A Weekend in Tuscany

Living in Rome, you know, has its pluses. Amatriciana for lunch, carbonara for dinner, pizza bianca in between, gelato for dessert. The meats, the cheeses? Better than you could imagine. Those early-morning markets? Make my eyes grow wide, each and every time.

But one of the greatest benefits of living in Rome is the ability to hop on a train to Tuscany. You know, when you feel like it. Just because you can.

So, I did this. I packed a bag and got right on that train as soon as I got out of my last midterm exam. Because what’s a better way to toast the end of a long week with a bottle of Chianti, made with grapes grown just outside your doorstep?

Food and wine in Italy are fiercely regional; you’d be hard-pressed to find a carbonara outside of Lazio or a pesto outside of Liguria, agrodolce outside of Sicily or true bufala outside of Campania. So imagine my delight as I opened up the menu at my celebratory lunch at Osteria del Teatro in Cortona and seeing a whole slew of new words, new dishes, new tastes.

‘We’ll have one of each pasta, please. And a bottle of that Chianti.’

The best of the bunch? Large, pillowy, almost ungainly ravioli, bursting with spinach and ricotta and tossed in an emulsion of cheese, cream, and black truffle. Ugly little guys, but oh, were they good. It was impossible not to moan. The plate was clean in seconds.

Later, came the contorni (side dishes) and a revelation: a simple onion, wrapped in paper and baked. The scent made my head spin. The taste was even better; soft, brothy, and ethereal, onion flavor in a way that I had never knew existed. Who knew the vegetable could be so lovingly complex?

We got three more.

Relaxed, full, and tipsy, we stumbled into the daylight, breathing in that clean Tuscan air, feeling like clichés and not minding a bit. We were off to a wine tasting. La vita e bella.

Brette Warshaw is a junior at the University of Pennsylvania, where she is a student of European history, creative writing, and jazz studies. She will be eating her way through Rome during the fall semester, leaving a wake of empty plates, flabbergasted waiters, and ripped skinny jeans behind her. Read more…


Originally posted on Tuesday, November 1st, 2011

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