As we looked out the airplane window, the sunrise gave us a warm welcome to Leonardo di Vinci
Airport. Approaching our “touchdown”, we delighted in the quilt like patterns created by lush
fields of grain, flocks of sheep grazing in their pastures and the varied shades and shapes of
olive groves and vineyards. The sight was pure pleasure for our eyes. Once again we were on our
way to visit our friends Simonetta and Guido at Casa Bellavista.
Traveling northeast on the Via Aurelia, we soon came upon an aqueduct, a sign of historic Roman
As we followed this winding road, carved through tuffa rock, we could not help but be awed by the
belief that Roman soldiers had driven their chariots over this route.
Our plan called for us to stay in Tuscania and take daytrips to Lago Bolsena, the Parco Archelogico
in Vulci and the relaxing thermal waterfalls south of Saturnia.
Then we would head north to Bagno Vigoni, stopping at the hill town of Radicoffoni on the way. Using
Bagno Vigoni as our next base, we planned on day trips to hill towns of the Val d’ Orcia, including
Pienza and Montepulciano. On the final days travel to Casa Bellavista, we stopped at the Abbazia
Monte di Olivetti Majorie for a viewing of the frescos depicting the life and times of St. Benedict.
Upon arriving at Casa Bellavista, we could not help but breath in the sweet smell of jasmine and roses.
The spirit of family and friendship consumed us as we visited with Simonetta and her parents along
with Antonio, the farmer who grows such beautiful fields of sunflowers.
After we settled into “La camera die Fagiani”, Guido arrived home from his office at Castello di
Spaltenna and it was time to open a celebratory bottle of EST EST EST, a refreshing white wine somewhat
similar to Orvietto Classico. It was great renewing our friendship over wine and cheese. By then, it
was time to prepare dinner.
The insalata for the evening was to be an artichoke salad (Insalata di Carciofo) garnished with chilled,
rolled hare and pancetta.
We began preparing the insalata by removing the outer parts of the artichoke until the more tender
interior parts of the artichoke were revealed. The artichokes were then sliced very thinly lengthwise
and thoroughly mixed in a dressing of extra virgin olive oil; freshly squeezed lemon juice and chopped
parsley. Salt and pepper were added to taste.
Earlier in the day, Simonetta had prepared a garnish of hare and pancetta for the insalata. The
garnish was made by rolling out pieces of hare until they were thin. She then applied a rub of fresh
garlic, sage, rosemary, thyme and extra virgin olive oil. This was then covered with fresh, thin
slices of pancetta, rolled and baked. After baking, it was placed in the refrigerator until cooled.
When it was time to serve the insalata, the hare and pancetta roll was sliced into thin pieces and
used to garnish the salad.
After a wonderful dinner and after the dishes were done, we closed out our first evening at Casa
Bellavista with a café corretto and good conversation…the joy of friendship.
Edie and Dave