A few years ago, in one of my trips to Italy, we spent a few days in Tuscany. We opted to rent apartments in a small mountaintop town called Monticchiello, a charming place, sandwiched between Pienza and Montepulciano (lucky folks!!!).
We truly lucked out: the town was quaint, quite small, and its location was central and offering greats views. The place we stayed at was an awesome building a few hundreds of years old (but, the landlady mis-led us in terms of it sleeping all of us – I ended on a cot by the dining room).
A meal to remember
One of its gems was the only restaurant up there, aptly named Osteria La Porta (the gate). There was a wait so we went to stand outside. Not a few minutes later, the owner came out with a bottle of wine and five glasses for us to entertain ourselves with, courtesy of the house. Yea, like THAT would happen in the U.S.! We immediately knew we were at the right place.
And we were not disappointed. We made it inside and began studying the menu. However, the waiter advised us that the pasta with truffle was very special. That was a plate with no meat of any sort. Just fresh pasta, fresh truffles, and a trickle of plain butter sauce. I decided that if it was being recommended, I ought to try despite its lack of meat or any veggies I normally like (mushrooms do not fall under that category). It was simply a superb dish. I can safely say top 5 ever eaten by me without any fear of exaggeration.
A special coincidence
We traveled to Italy during Holy Week which led to a few opportunities for good timing to happen. Such was that Sunday at Monticchielo: we were there on Palm Sunday. We went to church that Sunday and it was neat to hear Mass in Italian. But bigger surprise awaited us: the procession around town. All 40 or 50 of us followed the priest around this neat little town. I normally don’t spend enough time researching places to find out if there are local events that could be of interest – I just explore once I get somewhere. Maybe I have missed some things with this approach but, I have to say, it makes running into these local situations so much more fun.
What experiences have you had were you as pleasantly surprised while traveling? (Except the part about me in a cot next to a kitchen!)