We started off talking about bread. Evidently the tradition in Italy is to make bread without salt. This dates back millennia when salt was very expensive. This is one reason whey bread in Italy is almost always eaten with other food, particularly food that is very salty like the cured meats, cheese and olives.
The flat bread below do have salted added but not to the dough but in the indentations on the top
This version is seasonal and has grapes that were crushed to make wine
And this one with preserved fruit
The variety of breads at this 'Forno'
Breakfast is usually not a meal in Italy. Coffee, espresso, is drunk quickly with some light, not overly sweet pastry.
A center piece made from stalks of grain
Then on the artisanal cured meat place.
This shop has a farm and raises the pigs that are used for most of the cured meats. The variety is mind boggling. The cheese comes from other producers. Cheese in Tuscany is almost always Pecarino. Pecarino evidently means Sheep's milk cheese and there are numerous varieties. And bruschetta? You think that means toasted bread with tomatoes on it? No all it means is toasted bread. Even if all you do is drizzle oil on it, it is bruschetta .
Cases of cured meats and cheeses
A sampler plate of cured meat, cheese, olives and simple bruschetta with olive oil
Speaking of olive oil, we next went to a place that sold artisanal olive oil and balsamic vinegar. It is the season of fresh pressed olive oil. The oil of Tuscany has a punchy flavor with all kinds of pepper notes. We tried a variety of aged balsamic vinegar. In Italy like the rest of the world, the use of non-authentic balsamic vinegar (made by adding sugar rather than by aging) has become the norm.
And next, on to the truffle shop!!!!!
This place specializes in truffles and things made from truffles
Thankfully it is truffle season
The black beauties
And a snack of a small sandwich with truffle butter on it.
Wife is not a fan of truffles so I got most of her's too :)
Finally we headed out to the area of yet another basilica. Our guide reminded us that the use of the facade was a result of these churches not being finished because of the Plague that hit Italy in the middle of the 14th century causing populations drops of 50% and more.
Where we finished out tour with gelato
Did you know you can buy a really good gelato making machine for a bit under $300 but to get one of the storage cases can cost you $ 9 grand!
After our tour, we hustled to get our bags from our rental apartment, caught a bus to Siena and began the next phase of our adventures.