So this is what everyone has been talking about.
Tuscany. You hear the name pretty often. Every other strip mall has a “little tuscany” or “taste of italy” restaurant that attempts to mimic some world standard of cuisine that is a culinary mecca for wine-0’s and foodies alike.
Now I know what they were talking about. I’m very pleased to say it was not an exaggeration.
First, the background.
We hurried out of Rome Monday morning. Took the A1 through Umbria and away from suicidal roman motorcyclists, and two and a half hours later, passing beautiful rolling hillsides, golden fields crested with spire-like leland cypresses, stone farm houses with terra cotta roofs, olive groves, and the miles upon miles of grape vines, we arrived.
We of course got lost as soon as we got off the highway. Following steep and winding roads and roundabouts, trying to discern which way that arrow to Chianti is actually pointing when making a turn, and then scenic distractions made it ripe for losing one’s way. And so we did. Around 3PM we found our way to Radda in Chianti. Just about the time I was entering one of my classic hungry anger fits.
When I don’t eat I lose my sense of reason, patience, and not to mention good humor. And I was in a particularly bad hunger fit. I was ready to swear off Italy (and at the time my wife) altogether. Thankfully, Sydney kept me patient until we found our way to Radda and hurried into a restaurant. We ordered what appeared to be some basic Tuscan assortments and the house wine. Sydney helped me order as I frowned into the menu and mumbled angrily under my breath.
Then the food arrived.
I dove in. Not really caring at the time about presentation, taste, or price. I just needed sugar in my bloodstream STAT. Then, wow, good. Very good. Oh wow, this is absolutely delicious. The wine, whoa, cheap, can’t be good. Oh wait. IS. Sydney and I looked at each other for a second and my frown started to disappear. We chuckled to ourselves and then started laughing at how good the food was. We ate ourselves silly and finished a half bottle of wine. We left refreshed, and I was once again a rational human being.
After walking out of the restaurant (which by the way was really cheap and only cost 19 Euro for two large meals and half a liter of wine), I discovered just how lovely Radda is. It’s a small fortress of stone surrounded on all sides by rolling hills of grapes and olives. Occasionally you will see a villa on the horizon, but nothing more. Peace, quiet, great food, lovely seclusion. I really could not ask for more.