A Tuscan Father's Day to Remember: A Rosticerria, a Macelleria, an 8th Century Church and Max
The bar has been set high. I've nothing to compare it to, but my first Father's Day was a surreal and perfect immersion into the sites, smells, and tastes of rural Tuscany – with Max by my side the whole way.
Jerry Soverinsky/AOL Travel
Except on that 5-mile afternoon jog.
Getting Into the Groove
Max's body clock has been slowly adjusting to European time, and he awoke today only minutes before 9 a.m. That's a far cry from his college-like 12:30 p.m. wake-ups our first few days here.
We ate breakfast outside in our garden. While Max sipped his Similac formula, I savored a Moka-produced espresso, stove-top delicacy typical in Italian homes (and Sur le Table-accessorized U.S. ones). Jana and I have formed a strong and comfortable attachment to our Italian home, stocking our kitchen with local products, which has enabled us to integrate into a more authentic lifestyle. (It took us no time to adapt to the traditional afternoon siesta.)
After breakfast, we spent the morning and early afternoon at Panzano's open-air market. This bustling collection of kiosks and stands (Sundays only) peddles everything from artwork to clothes to roasted chicken.
While Jana browsed children's toys and flowers, Max and I shopped for dinner at a rosticceria, where dozens of people lined up to purchase slow-roasted whole chickens dressed in olive oil and rosemary.
After enjoying masterfully crafted cappuccinos (more later in the week on the barista here), we ventured off the piazza down a side street to Antica Macelleria Cecchini, home to one of Italy's most famous butchers, Dario Cecchini. Just approaching the shop is an experience. You're pulled forward by surge of tantalizing smells as well as a throng of people edging for a closer look at one of Italy's finest culinary artisans.
Inside, Dario works center stage in his 100-square foot shop. On market day it accommodates an endless parade of locals and tourists stopping by to sample bruschetta and wine while watching Dario whittle, carve and trim an assortment of meats as opera music plays triumphantly in the background.
We are indeed a long way from our neighborhood in Chicago.
To Market, To Market
As the market ended, we ate brunch at Oltre il Giardino, a notable Chianti ristorante with an expansive terrace backed by dramatic views of a rolling landscape of vineyards and Cyprus trees. Ravioli with spinach, sheep's cheese and a sage sauce, along with a mushroom risotto, were the perfect entrees to send Jana and me on a two-hour nap (along with Max) when we returned to our Panzano home.
I went for a long jog in the late afternoon, up through a tiny hamlet (San Leolino) and its eighth century parish church. Upon my return home, I found Max and Jana blowing bubbles in our yard. I happily accepted an invitation to join them.
In the evening, we feasted on roasted chicken, fried polenta and a fruit salad made from market-fresh cherries and melon. Max was asleep by 10 p.m. and Jana and I are very close behind.
It's nearing the end of my first Father's Day. One I hope never to forget.
Keep up with Jerry and the bambino on Twitter.
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