We left Bologna under cloudy skies with a plan to drive over the mythical Passo Futa, where the Ducati motorcycles were tested back-in-the-day. Little did we know we'd be driving through SNOW! Luckily "Il Ducatista" drives in snow back in Iowa so Larry had little fear of ending up in the ditch. After surviving the Futa, we continued on into Tuscany via the autostrada combined with some smaller, more scenic routes until reaching Roccastrada at twilight. It had been awhile since Zio Lorenzo had been here and sure enough, he chose the wrong road towards our night's lodging, Il Poggiarello. After some driving around in the dark, Zio caved in and phoned our friends for the easiest (though not the shortest) way back to their agriturismo - but we still made our goal of arriving by dinner time! Dinner included some samples of the wines of Muralia, the dream of Stefano, who you can see in the bottom photo posing with the Ducatisti.
After a peaceful night's sleep and breakfast we were off to find Tommasini in nearby Grosseto since Ducatista works at a bike shop where they sell the gorgeous creations. He'd arranged a meeting with Barbara (center in the second photo) and a brief tour of the factory downstairs. As usual it took a couple of laps around the city to find them (grazie Roberta!) but once there the welcome was warm and the discussion lively. Ducatista scored the ultimate can of extra virgin olive oil from last season they had on hand before we set off to Montalcino, home of Brunello di Montalcino, perhaps the most famous of Tuscan wines.
After some tasting of the famous vino, we headed back to Poggiarello, where Stefano proudly showed off his vineyards and cantina, even driving us out into the woods to show the Ducatisti the source of wine corks - the cork oak. We next headed to Massa Marittima and a Zio Lorenzo favorite, Vecchio Borgo for a true Tuscan feast on our last night together. Sadly for Zio, but not Nick and Sara, Zio's taste buds had gone on strike - results of the cold he'd picked up earlier. But he took pleasure knowing that while he couldn't taste ANYTHING, the crostini misti, the house-made pasta, bistecca fiorentina, cippolini, fagioli and vino rosso from Moris Farms (they were out of wines from Muralia, though they were on the wine list) were enjoyed by his friends.
The following morning we made our way south to Rome, but not without a stop at the mozzarella di bufala shop on the superstrada. Zio wanted his friends to sample authentic cheese made just hours before and this was their best chance. From there we continued to the airport where the Ducatisti climbed into a taxi headed into the center of Rome, while Zio Lorenzo boarded a plane to -
More on that next time...