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Name:   MartiniMan - Email Member
Subject:   Back from Tuscany....
Date:   9/22/2019 2:45:10 PM

Spent two glorious weeks in Tuscany with two of my daughters and some friends and I didn't think about the Forum at all.  Perfect weather (warm sunny days and cool nights), the Sangiovese grapes were almost ready to be picked and the food was excellent as always. Spent two days in an area called Cinque Terra on the west coast which was amazingly beautiful.....not to mention the lovely topless sunbathers......and yes, I had to look and my wife was amused.  We rented a villa near Monte San Savino which was perfect and included this amazing outdoor wood fired pizza oven that we put to very good use,.  Only downside was we did a cooking class one day and one of the ladies there brought her son who works for Ernst & Young and he took a liking to my daughter and asked her out the next night.  Since we were having a pizza party that night she invlited him over and darned if he didn't show up.  She went back after a week and they have been communicating on a daily basis ever since.

Renting from Avis not so much.  First car developed a coolant leak and had to be replaced which was a pain.  Second car had some wheel damage that we did not do but wasn't listed on the form and we didn't see that they are now trying to charge me for.  Will see how that battle goes.  One thing I know for sure, the Italian people are so warm and friendly except on the roads where they become like demons.  They have all these speed trap cameras and send charges six months later that are not cheap so I drive the speed limit.  Italian drivers do not appreciate that any more than Atlanta drivers.  For them, tailgating is almost a contact sport.  Otherwise I thoroughly enjoyed myself despite having to do some conference calls and other work related stuff.  

I will say this about Europe, as much as I love visiting there I cannot understand why any American thinks we need to be more like them.  VAT taxes are crazy expensive, you have to pay to use a toilet, there is very little free parking anywhere and the grocery stores are not even close to what we have here in the U.S.  Also, I got stung by a wasp on my foot that swelled up to my calf and had a nasty rash and went to an urgent care place that was a disaster.  No receptionist and I got there when it opened and the waiting area was already filled with people with no apparent queue.  I finally gave up and went to a pharmacy, explained what happened and the pharmacist looked at my foot, said "Ah, OK" and immediately went and got me some cortisone/antibiotic cream and off I went.  Let's just say I wouldn't want to have anything worse while I'm there.

If any of you ever go there let me know and I'll tell you everything you need to know to have an amazing time.  Stay away from the big wineries and you will be so much better off for tours and tastings.  We went to Florence, Cortona, Arezzo, Pisa, Montepulicano and several other smaller towns.  Chianti region is also very nice and we had an amazing lunch there at a restaurant with an incredible view.  It was run by a Scottish woman who was very fun and entertaining to talk to.





Name:   MrHodja - Email Member
Subject:   Back from Tuscany....
Date:   9/22/2019 5:39:25 PM

Brings back great memories.  Spent many weeks working a Foreign Military Sales project for the Italian Navy in La Spezia, staying in Lerici.  Trips to Florence were frequent, with myself and my wife staying one weekend in Hotel Mona Lisa, a quaint little place built in 1370-something.  Toured Chianti, having lunch in Greve, and still have one of the bottles of wine...2002 vintage I believe.  Climbed the 467 steps to the top of the Duomo and from there got a great view of the old and new city.  Speaking of the old city, I got some Italians really excited when I missed the no cars sign and started driving down a pedestrians only alleyway.

Italy is probably the most friendly country to visit for Americans (although I haven't been to Israel).  People are friendly and English is pretty well understood everywhere.  Wine is good but the food is better.  Nothing like what is passed off here as Italian food.  

You didnt mention Rome but if you find yourself going there I know if some outstanding restaurants.  And if you ever go South to the Amalfi Coast, don't miss Ercolano.  Not as big as Pompeii but much better preserved and gives one a hint how they lived day-to-day, to include a LEAD water pipe that is still intact.  And hiking to the caldera at Vesuvius you can see the steam still escaping the rocks.

Glad you enjoyed your visit.  





Name:   MartiniMan - Email Member
Subject:   Back from Tuscany....
Date:   9/23/2019 7:34:02 AM (updated 9/23/2019 7:35:29 AM)

We went through Greve but didn't stop.  Went to a small town on a hill outside the city for lunch.  As for the wine, it has improved dramatically in last few decades.  Super Tuscans and de Nobili's can comptete with anything put out by Napa (sans some of the really good stuff like Opus 1) but much cheaper....at least when you are there.  

As for Roma, I've been there many times, including at the turn of the century for 10 days.  There is a reason it's called the eternal city.  But we didn't do it this time and decided to spend most of our time in Tuscany.





Name:   architect - Email Member
Subject:   Back from Tuscany....
Date:   9/23/2019 10:01:01 AM

My wife and I spent a month traveling in northern Italy in 2008...Lake district, Tuscany, Umbria and The Veneto!  We loved every day and every place.  We spent a week in an ''Agriturismo'' villa in Bettolle near Cortona and visited a client couple in Cortona who were there for a semester of ''tough and dirty work'' as part of his professorial duties in the Univ of GA Art Dept.  We have been to Italy on several occasions, but this long trip let us get to know a little more about the Italians and their character.  We came to appreciate their ''love life'' attitude.  The food and wine was very good everywhere but it was outstanding in Tuscany.  We had an experience at a great little mom and pop restaurant in Castellino di Chianti.  The place was noisy with locals but we could not help hearing occasional laughs and English words from the 2 couples across the room.  After finishing a fantastic dinner we walked over to their table and I said 'Your not from around here are you?"  They laughed and said ''No we were not and neither are you, we are from Mobile AL, where in the south are you folks from?''





Name:   GoneFishin - Email Member
Subject:   Back from Tuscany....
Date:   9/23/2019 12:37:08 PM

While the elite travel to Tuscany, the rest of us eat a  luncheon special at the Olive Garden.





Name:   Buteye - Email Member
Subject:   Back from Tuscany....
Date:   9/23/2019 2:48:09 PM

It must be nice. We poor Alabamaians have to order off the "dollar menu" at McDonalds.





Name:   architect - Email Member
Subject:   Back from Tuscany....
Date:   9/23/2019 5:02:41 PM

You are bringing tears to my eyes GF!  Of  course you have to get there but once there, unless it has changed drastically from 2008, you can eat a great meal in lots of  mom and pop restaurant in small town Italy for about the same as you will pay for a pale imitation of Italian cuisine at the Olive Garden!  Throw in the fact the VAT is already included in the menu price (no add on sales tax) and the fact that a typical tip is 6% to 8% instead of 18% to 20% and you will probably come out ahead and have a hell of a lot better meal and more fun and you will be in ''Italia''!  May not work in Florence or Rome or areas overrun with tourists but it sure does in Bettolle and Castelina di Chianti!

I propose, we all no matter where we are, try to frequent the locally owned establishments and bypass the Mc Donalds, Starbucks and Walmarts when there is a choice!





Name:   wix - Email Member
Subject:   Hey, Buteye....
Date:   9/23/2019 6:10:01 PM (updated 9/23/2019 6:12:37 PM)

Let’s me and you head up to Harpersville in yo truck. We can go to tha scupperine winery jest off 280, drink up a bunch, then we’ll try to head back down 280 to Silliecauga and load up on a bunch of groceries at dat bar-b-que joint, and finish off a 12 pack of Busch, before we head to the vineyards of Camp Hill.  If we live through all dat fun, you can come back and do some serious braggin’ on da forum.  How ‘bout it?

If ya wanta, we can invite Goof-head to fly up and join us......





Name:   MrHodja - Email Member
Subject:   Back from Tuscany....
Date:   9/23/2019 6:34:16 PM

La Grigliata in Las Spezia, down by the port.  Panegache, strachino, and affitati - unique to the area.  Panegache is like a thin bread-like pancake prepared by heating ceramic disks (much like the bottom of a clay flower pot) over an open wood fire.  Once they are hot the chef places one down, upside down, and ladles batter over it.  Then another disk, more batter, and so forth iuntil the pile is close to two feet tall.  The heat from the disks themselves cooks the batter and they are then served in wicker baskets.  Take a piece, slather strachino (a very mild very soft cheese) on it, add some affitati (thin sliced meats and salames), fold it and you have a delightful Italian "sandwich".  And REAL tiramisu...pudding with a vanilla wafer-type cookie inside, not the cake with a little flavoring often passed off here for tiramisu.

In San Tirenzo my son had a huge chunk of baked Polpo (octopus) that tasted similar to roast beef, and in Italy you learn that scampi is a crustacean that looks like a miniature lobster, not a way to cook shrimp!  And if you have enough diners and ask in advance, they have a way of baking fish in rock salt that produces a flaky, moist, tasty fish that is out of this world.  Maybe if AOC gets her way and there are no more airplanes she will build a bridge to Italy...  





Name:   architect - Email Member
Subject:   Back from Tuscany....
Date:   9/23/2019 7:51:03 PM

YUM!  Have you ever had vin santo served after dessert?  At a place called ''Il Forncino'' (little furnace...because it is a former blacksmith) in Guazzino near Bettolle we were the only non-Italians in the place and the owner treated us like royalty.  After the meal he brought us zuppa-Inglese for dessert as a surprise and after that a dessert wine...vin santo which is served ice cold from the freezer with house made biscotti which we were instructed to dip in the wine!!  We were happy and stuffed and the last 2 courses were gratis.  In Dolo near Venice we stumbled on a restaurant where a family birthday party was underway.  We were not invited to the party but the owner did serve us samples of all the items being served to the party including those scampi done several ways and tiny local oysters served with a vinagar base sauce...again all without charge.  Sorry folks, but it would be very rare to have it happen in the good old USA.





Name:   architect - Email Member
Subject:   Hey, Buteye....
Date:   9/23/2019 7:53:31 PM

It all sounds pretty good except for the Busch beer...PBR lots better!





Name:   MrHodja - Email Member
Subject:   Back from Tuscany....
Date:   9/23/2019 9:48:18 PM

My wife and I spent Christmas, 1968 in Verona with her brother and Italian sister in law.  (Yes, the same wife I have now!) Beautiful area, coliseum-like amphitheater that still held live operas, Juliet's Balcony, Lago di Garda, and all the rest.  We flew back to my base in Turkey from Aviano, enjoying the view of the foothills of the Alps, and had a stopover in Pisa where we enjoyed a cappuccino in the terminal.  Haven't really been back to that area since.  Mostly Rome, La Spezia, and down south, Napoli, Taranto, Brindisi, and with my wife's second Italian sister in law in a little burg called Martina Franca.  That area is famous for the Trullis, igloo shaped stone homes that were originally designed to be taken apart and carted to the next place the family was to work.  Capri was a bit of a tourist trap until we found a hotel at the "Little Marina" on the far side of the island...much quieter and more pleasant...Prince Albert's yacht spent the night there because he was going to a party in town but when we got up the next morning it was gone.  Had a great view of the Fraglione rocks....didnt know they existed till we got there.  Amalfi Coast is really pretty, and we picked out a restaurant for lunch that was only three or four miles off the main road.  Map didn't tell us it was a mile higher in altitude and there were about a hundred switchbacks getting there.  Once there, though, the food was great and the view predictably breathtaking. 

Maybe we need a joint venture over there, about a month in duration, so each of us could show the others what we love about Italy.  Only restriction would be no discussing politics.....if that is possible, lol.

 





Name:   wix - Email Member
Subject:   Hey, ARCH...
Date:   9/23/2019 10:01:52 PM

So, you like muscadine wine???





Name:   architect - Email Member
Subject:   Hey, ARCH...
Date:   9/23/2019 10:33:31 PM (updated 9/23/2019 10:35:09 PM)

I've had it from North GA and Its as sweet and, if very cold, at least 80% as good as a Beernauslese from the Mosel or Rhine but at about 8% the cost!





Name:   Buteye - Email Member
Subject:   Hey, Buteye....
Date:   9/23/2019 10:46:26 PM (updated 9/23/2019 10:51:58 PM)

Sounds like a fun day and the best part of it all is that we wouldn't have to leave Alabama to enjoy it. However, we might be pushing our "luck" a little too far by having that much fun. It's likely that some time during the day we would encounter a local sheriff, police officer, or some other law enforcement agency that would bring an end to our day of fun. At least it is good to know that we could have this much fun without leaving our "great" state of Alabama. As a side note, I am 79 years old, but as a young boy there was muscadines and scuppernongs which are a large variety of muscadine native to the southern United States, growing on our farm in Alabama, and my Dad made some mighty fine "homemade" wine. The nice part of it was you didn't have to leave Alabama to get some "mighty fine wine".

This whole subject touched my "memory" and brought back a song by "Three Dog Night" titled "Joy to the World". The first lines of the song were: Jeremiah was a bull frog, Was a good friend of mine, I never understood a single word he said, But I helped him a-drink his wine, And he always had some "Mighty Fine Wine".





Name:   wix - Email Member
Subject:   Hey, Buteye....
Date:   9/23/2019 11:03:40 PM

Yep, the Camp Hill “law” would get us for sure.  Muscadine wine is way too sweet for me....bad head afterwards!!  Arch wants PBR.....I thought I had posted a terrible beer, but he beat me!





Name:   MrHodja - Email Member
Subject:   Hey Martini
Date:   9/23/2019 11:26:27 PM

Look what ya done done.  Introduced a level of civility to this forum that I haven't seen in a while.  Ya done went an ruined a good dog fight.  

Thanks, we needed that!!!





Name:   architect - Email Member
Subject:   Hey Martini
Date:   9/24/2019 6:55:51 AM

Louis Grizzard once said ''it is hard to be mad while eating a home-grown tomato.''  Maybe the same could be said for when talking Italy and Italian food.  Unfortunately the tomato doesn't last forever.





Name:   MartiniMan - Email Member
Subject:   Will wonders never cease
Date:   9/24/2019 7:58:08 AM

I had to logout to look at the replies.  Not for the first time, but it doesn't happen often, Archie and I agree on Italy, especially his comment about finding the smaller local restaurants off the beaten path.   We did that in Pisa and had an amazing lunch of bruschetta and meat and cheese plates along with a local bottle of Chianti Classico.  Five of us had an excellent lunch, bottles of water and a bottle of wine for 55 Euro.  And we got to meet the 84 year old owner who was apparently a very well known chef in Tuscany. One thing I would differ slightly with him is that I prefer Limoncello more than Vin Santo with dolce.  By the way, Vin Santo means Holy Wine and was made especially for priests to use in the consecretion of wine in the mass.  So much fun and glad Archie and I have found something in common.  If we ever met in person we would probably ignore the politics and compare notes on travel to Italy.  

Speaking of which, here is a test we did at one of our wine tastings at a small winery across the street from our villa.  Get a bottle of Chianti Classico (make sure it has the DOCG label) and a Super Tuscan or Vino Nobili (both of which are blends of Sangiovese and either Cabernet or Merlot).  Take a taste of both without food.  Most will prefer the blends.  But then do it again but first eat some meat or cheese and you will prefer the Chianti (pure Sangiovese).  It is meant to be consumed with food and it is much better that way, noticeably and surprisingly so.

And of course Goofy had to throw in his snark.  Glad to see others not getting sucked into his negativity on what was intended to be a positive thread.  He can't help himself as TDS is a very debilitating mental illness that clouds all judgement.  C'est la vie.  





Name:   MrHodja - Email Member
Subject:   Will wonders never cease
Date:   9/24/2019 8:35:42 AM

A wine can also be called chianti if a blend with 75-100% Sangiovese, up to 10% canaiolo and up to 20% of any other approved red grape...grown in the Chianti region.  I am beginning to see wines labeled "Sangiovese" and haven't studied their origin but suspect they come from somehwere other than Chianti.  A true Chianti Classico will have a rooster on the label, although the quality of Classicos can be wildly different.  In my opinion a Davinci Chianti is as good or better than a Gabbiano Chianti Classico, although I try to find something better thsn either of those two.

If looking for a "big" wine that isn't terribly delicate, try a Primitivo from Puglia.  They are especially good with hearty red meat meals.  The Zinfandels from California are Primitivo's first cousin and provide a similar experience.





Name:   architect - Email Member
Subject:   [Message deleted by author]
Date:   9/24/2019 11:26:31 AM (updated 9/24/2019 11:32:27 AM)




Name:   architect - Email Member
Subject:   Do you ever drink Italian whites?
Date:   9/24/2019 11:31:37 AM (updated 9/24/2019 11:32:16 AM)

I think "Orvieto" is one of the most under rated wines around.





Name:   MrHodja - Email Member
Subject:   Do you ever drink Italian whites?
Date:   9/24/2019 11:47:23 AM

Don't drink whites.  I wouldn't doubt that it is good, though.  I think the Italians are unfairly considered inferior to the French.  And when it comes to California there are a lot of vintners in Cali with strong Italian roots.





Name:   architect - Email Member
Subject:   Alto Adige!
Date:   9/24/2019 11:53:00 AM (updated 9/24/2019 11:54:04 AM)

there are some really good and less costly Italian wines from the mountainous and hilly areas north of Venice toward Austria...German is spoken in parts of the region.





Name:   Carlson - Email Member
Subject:   Boone’s farm?
Date:   9/24/2019 3:11:28 PM

how does that rate?  





Name:   phil - Email Member
Subject:   Boone’s farm?
Date:   9/24/2019 3:21:21 PM

I think that is on the same level that most rank PBR or Schlitz.





Name:   wix - Email Member
Subject:   Boone’s farm?
Date:   9/24/2019 4:24:37 PM

Rates right down there with Mogen David, Ripple, MD20/20, etc......bad headaches!!





Name:   Carlson - Email Member
Subject:   Thunderbird?
Date:   9/24/2019 5:42:46 PM

The choice of financially strapped 





Name:   wix - Email Member
Subject:   Thunderbird? Ah, Yes
Date:   9/24/2019 6:04:27 PM

I forgot about that fine example of the best wine for tha bro community++!





Name:   MrHodja - Email Member
Subject:   Boone’s farm?
Date:   9/24/2019 7:17:28 PM

Carling Black Label....if it is even made anymiore.





Name:   architect - Email Member
Subject:   Of course there is always “Night-train”
Date:   9/25/2019 8:24:07 AM





Name:   wix - Email Member
Subject:   Of course there is always “Night-train”
Date:   9/25/2019 10:14:50 PM

Now that’s one I’ve never sampled.  









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