On the road again, this time across the pond all the way to Italy. Traveling with three girlfriends, leaving four hubs home, we rendezvoused at a wine bar in the international terminal at Philadelphia airport. Sipping wine and enjoying a hearty lunch in anticipation of a lousy airline dinner (we were not disappointed), our Eatily adventure officially began.
our plane almost ready to go at the airport.
Over eight hours is a long time to sit in one place, but the good news is we did not fly Spirit Air, renowned for tight seat configurations and seats that do not recline. I tried sleeping, managing only a few minutes between bouts of restlessness, standing to stretch my legs, checking the monitor to see how much flight time remained, and squirming around in a futile attempt to get comfortable.
The plane ride mercifully ended. Shielding tired eyes from the bright morning sun, we boarded a bus to the terminal and a few minutes later meandered through zigzagging lanes towards the customs window, officers more interested in conversation amongst themselves than reviewing our documents.
We collected our luggage following a quick detour to the ladies room. I should have taken a picture. Large and pristine clean, each sink contained a shelf with three built in dispensers - one for soap, one for water, and the third air to dry our hands.
We boarded a van on our way to Florence. Passing the entrance to the train station I spied a worker diligently shampooing the concrete floor with a high-powered machine. When has anyone seen a human clean the floor of an American train station?
Following a quick stop for espresso, much needed to keep sleep-deprived travelers awake, the van sped on to Orvieto, a picturesque medieval village perched atop a mountain, nowadays a tourist town. Walking ancient cobblestone streets, hard on the feet, passing restored buildings accommodating restaurants, cafes, and numerous gift shops, we finally arrived at the location for our first Italian meal. Devouring a shared cheese and meat tray, salad, fresh bread, potatoes, two kinds of pasta, wine, espresso, and aperitif, it was a good thing we were not driving.
Espresso, a couple of swallows. After my first cup decided to order lattes. You get a full cup.
Revived, on to Florence. Dinner, almost a repeat of lunch, including high quality food and reasonable prices, included wine, sparkling water, caprese salad, bread, two kinds of pasta, and dessert. The waitress carefully explained in detail the ingredients in every dish, how it was prepared and cooked. We stumbled, exhausted, back to our hotel and fell into bed, getting ready for another busy day eating, touring, and eating.
I cannot keep eating this way. I will balloon and by the end of the trip will not fit into my jeans.
A four hour walking tour highlighted our first full day in Italy. We ate lunch at a trattoria recommended by our guide, ordering the prix fix menu for 15 euros (one euro = $1.101 on 9/23/15) which included a first course of pasta with pesto sauce and main course of chicken with tomatoes and olives. Exhausted by evening, we decided on an informal dinner, purchasing cheese, bread, cold cuts, tomatoes, artichokes, peppers stuffed with tuna, and cheese at market and feasting on our hotel's rooftop terrace overlooking the city, sparkling with the white lights of homes and illuminated buildings.
Our market fresh dinner.
Eatily so far, a wonderful sensory, calorie-laden, adventurous experience.
And my next post will be about more than the food!