As you may have heard, Genoa has been flooding and since we are only an hour south, things have been a bit wet along the Versilia Coast as well. We decided to head to higher ground for the day and visit some of our favorite places to eat in all of Europe.
Villa Marsili in Cortona has the best breakfast we have eaten in all of Europe. We experienced it for the first time last November and this year it was even better! We sat around a beautiful table with thin china cups thick with warm chocolate. We feasted on radicchio and parmesan tarts, torta di nonna, parsley béchamel sauce with a side of caramelized onion quiche, and mouthwatering fresh-squeezed blood orange juice. The red-currant cheesecake warm from the oven was the encore to an incredible experience. We ate with all of our senses and it made every bite intentional and memorable.
After we walked around Cortona long enough to be hungry again, we headed down the hill a bit to Camucia to visit the best pastry shop or “pasticceria” we have been to in all of Europe. We have tasted a lot of amazing baked goods in the past 14 months, but Vannelli’s has it all.
It is a family business full of talented award-winning baristas and cake decorators. The window displays are dripping with homemade chocolates and biscotti and the locals outnumber the tourists. We arrived, after being away for a year, to kisses and cannoli.
The kids were told to pick anything they liked out of the case “on the house.” The decision was excruciating as everything glistened with layers of homespun sugar. When they made their final selections, more kisses and good-byes were in order, and they were somehow so much sweeter than last year.
In reflecting on our day, it was less about the food and more about who prepared it. Each person that filled us with goodness, poured so much love and attention into what they prepared. Italians are intimately close to their food and what their food communicates to those who are privileged enough to sit at the table.
What I will always remember about returning to these tables this week is that this time around, we were no longer tourists. We left as customers and we returned as family, complete with people waiting to greet us and scoop up the kids. It was a homecoming framed by a landscape that was foreign just one year ago.