Florence, Italy: What's For Lunch? Pool Party in Tuscany
Just ONE of the Breathtaking Views Surrounding the Pool
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Spaghetti con Vongole
Bread, Cheeses and Sauces
Traditional Millefoglie in Chocolate & Custard (HEAVENLY)
After Lunch Nap with Another Gorgeous View
Field of Golden Wheat and Cypress Trees
Summer in Florence is Agonizing
The Etruscans had the right idea when they settled in the Fiesole hills that full of fresh breezes and far from the river, mosquitoes and intense heat. I have NO idea why the Romans didn't follow their example when they first arrived here in 59 BC. Instead, they founded Florence in the valley where a cloying cloud of stagnant heat hangs over the city's inhabitants. When August arrives to Florence, most people escape into the mountains or the seaside, while unwary "budget tourists" (ever wonder why it's so cheap to fly here in August??) are stuck here in misery.
We are only in June and the temperature is already scorching hot. Normally, I like the heat, but these last few days have been really uncomfortable. When my friend, a gourmet food king in the city who is internationally known (which is why I am keeping his identity secret) invited me to a private pool party at his home, I accepted with gratitude. Another friend and invited guest picked me up and off we went, up, up, up into the Tuscan hills away from Florence.
When we finally arrived, I was in total awe of the surrounding views. On one side, of our hosts home was a field of wheat with cypress trees and hills in the distance. On the other side was a large lake surrounded by woods. The air was fresh, clean and blessedly cool. The water in the pool was clean, crisp and refreshing.
After a nice dip, lunch was served. I must admit that I was extremely curious what we would be eating since I was in the company of such distinguished foodies. I was surprised by the simplicity of our meal and pleased by its deliciousness. For starters, a spaghetti with vongole (clams) in a red sauce, to which we added pepperoncino. Next, crusty bread with cheeses: peccorino staggionato (aged peccorino), pecorino tartufato (with truffle) and grana padano. We also had two olive pates (green and black) as well as pate of pepperoncino. We washed it down with a crisp Vermentino.
Dessert was decadent and made in a very traditional pasticceria located in a tiny borgo. Millefoglie, which literally means "a thousand sheets," since it consists of several delicate, crunchy layers of pastry. Between those wonderful layers were chocolate or homemade custard. Delectable. Our host brought out a special Crema di Limoncello, which is basically Limoncello made with milk so that it is creamy. It had been homemade by a friend of his and tasted like nothing you would ever find on a commercial shelf.
After lunch we all just relaxed and enjoyed the view and tranquility. With full bellies, we dozed, listening to the hum of bees from the nearby lavender bushes and the song of birds in the trees. This is what the Dolce Vita is all about: truly appreciating the simple things in the fullest sense. Good food, good company, Nature, peacefulness...
I hope you can make it here to Tuscany someday. I promise that you will be glad you did. Thank you for reading!
C. De Melo
Author & Artist
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