This post is a continuation of a story from the previous post (Late Dinner at Colle Puccioli – Part 1).
When I arose the next morning, all I could think about was getting myself outside to see where we were. I was now glad we arrived in the dark, and the gift of glorious view awaited.
I stepped out the door of our lovely little guest house and was greeted by lots of stone walls, brick paths, rambling gardens, tons of ancient pots atop gnarly wooden shelves, and a misty morning view of Chiusdino. Not bad.
No one was up and about yet, so I did a little wandering before going into the kitchen for a much-needed cup of coffee. I am an eternal early riser. I relish the morning, and the quietude it brings with it. There is time to wake up slowly, and in a way, find happiness before the onslaught of the day. It is hard to have this moment of reflection and calm at any other point. Once something happens, your brain is immediately engaged, and there is no stopping thoughts from flooding in. In the morning, I actually feel empty, (in the best possible sense), and thoughts about anything other than soaking in the morning, can contaminate this moment. This my simple way of explaining a more complex thought. However to discuss it further, I would need to be sitting with you over a good bottle of wine!
Suffice is to say I had a chance to walk around Tom’s place at my leisure and soak it all in. There was a fabulous outdoor oven built into a wall, complete with arbor and lovely little terraced area. The winding pathways always led to something interesting, like a stairs through a wall that landed you in a little courtyard next to the kitchen, complete with long harvest table and a view that captured the valley through two narrow entryways in the wall facing Chiusdino.
I’m trying to describe a place that is almost indescribable. Imagining walking into a courtyard on the edge of a hillside in Tuscany is idyllic enough in itself, but add to it Tom’s passion for “things” which are visible in every nook and cranny of the place, inside and out. His love of ancient pots is apparent at every turn. The shelves that flank his awesome wine cellar are filled with pots that are museum worthy.
So my first impressions of Colle Puccioli was one of downright admiration for the man who saved this lovely farm-house from the ravages of time. Of course there is also that moment of thinking”I could live here!” but then the thoughts of the mountains of stuff in the house that would need cleaning dispelled any more daydreaming.
It was time for that cup of coffee, and upon entering the kitchen I found my friend John already up, and seated very happily at the kitchen table. Speaking of which, the night before, it was so full of food I quite overlooked the fact that the actually tabletop was a wooden door; another triumph!
Not long after coffee was brewed, the rest of the house began to appear one by one. It was time to think about breakfast. Tom strolled in and suggested that we could grab some baby leeks from his garden to go with the eggs Shawn was deftly scrambling. Myself and Ninfa tagged behind him and watched as he dug leeks out of what appeared to be a patch of weeds. This place really needed a good weeding!
This thought was also in Tom’s head, because as we were walking back to the house he pointed to a patch of what looked like young carrot tops and looked at the two of us saying, “get out there and weed after breakfast ladies!”
Back in the kitchen things were well underway as Monica sliced cheese and put a lovely antipasti together. Tom told me we needed mimosas and told me where to find a bottle of prosecco. We squeezed lovely fresh oranges and toasted to a good day. It was certainly going in the right direction as far as I was concerned.
We ate scrambled eggs with a side of sautéed leeks and tomatoes, some lovely farm bread fried in olive oil, cold meat and cheese, all washed down with coffee and mimosas; yum.
After breakfast, I asked Ninfa if she would give me a little Italian lesson. She was only too delighted. It was intense, but very fun to be sitting in the kitchen with her, beside the roaring fire. She was adamant that I learn the precise pronunciation of the vowels. She would spell words using the Italian alphabet (of course!) and I would have to write them down. She was very strict, and I felt a twinge of fear every time I got a letter wrong.
There was a funny moment when she was spelling the word Treno (train). When she said the letter “e” which is pronounced more like the letter “a” in english I wrote down “e” When she said “no” I thought she meant it was not an “e” and crossed it out confused. She repeated the spelling and again responded “no” to my “e” What the hell was I doing wrong? When we both realized she was saying “no” referring to the end of the word, and not “No!” that is incorrect, we both laughed at the ridiculousness of it all.
Then it was time to weed those carrots! Ninfa was anxious that we go out there and do a good job, also commenting that no matter how good it was ,Tom would complain about how City Girls can’t weed! Surly we could weed carrots? Well, it was like doing surgery. Tom planted the carrots as one would drop seed to feed chickens; all over the place! It was so hard to pull big strong weeds without compromising the tiny little carrot plants. Of course we did pull carrots, but Ninfa quickly replanted saying they needed to be “relocated” anyway. We toiled away for about an hour, Monica and I weeding, while Ninfa busied herself with “relocations”
A little bit after we got inside and washed all that lovely dirt from our hands, Tom complimented me on our beautiful weeding job. Reflecting on the moment, I think he was just charming me into giving him a thank you hug.
Now it was time to discuss dinner….stayed tuned for part 3