We could have remained cocooned at Castiglion del Bosco forever, but after a few days the weather cleared and the sun came out and the Via Francigena beckoned. The road, which stretches from Canterbury, England all the way to Rome, has been trod since well before the Middle Ages by pilgrims seeking their way to Rome.
We were on a different sort of pilgrimage that day. Driving up and down the golden Tuscan hills, we were headed a few ridge lines southeast to the rugged medieval hill town of Montalcino for a very special lunch date. Montalcino, known for its well-preserved fortress, dates back to at least the 9th century, which is appropriate, because that’s about how long other people think the CE and I have been married. A marriage of thirty-five years seems to strike others as an eternity. To us, it just feels like we’ve been on one very long lunch date, so lunch in Montalcino seemed the perfect way to celebrate our anniversary.
Today the hamlet and its surrounding environs are famed for sought-after Sangiovese grapes and the production of Brunello di Montalcino wine. Seated on the sunny terrace of Drogheria Franci, I opted instead for a glass of white wine to complement my lunch of trofie pasta crowned with a generous sprinkling of white truffles.
Being that it was our anniversary, we were compelled to have dessert. (Do you notice that we always come up with some kind of excuse?)
Ever since our time in Rome I kept encountering the tart little red berries that topped my dessert that day in Montalcino. What were they, I finally asked, and was told by our waiter that these were ribes, which are known in our part of the world as redcurrant berries, a member of the gooseberry family. With that mystery solved, I proceeded to eat every bite.
Before Montalcino gained fame for its Brunello wines, it was well-known as a producer of sweet white wines, and the restaurant proprietor convinced me to finish our anniversary lunch with a taste of Moscadello. Perfetto!
We explored the town just a bit before heading back to our beloved Castiglion del Bosco. It was a crisp, windswept fall day in Tuscany and one that I will always remember. Thanks for thirty-five years, CE! Where should we go for lunch in 2016?