Saturday, July 17, 2010

Italy Trip Day 15 - Hospital, Cetona & Rome

We were sad to leave La Bandita, but we knew it had to happen eventually! We spent the morning packing up, at which point we realized we really needed to buy another piece of luggage to get all the stuff we bought home. We did what we could with what we had, stuffed everything into the car, paid our bill, then decided to take one last look around the property to make sure we had pictures of everything.

It was at my urging that Steve dropped into the drained jacuzzi pool next to the swimming pool, neither of which were open for the season yet. We spotted a little frog at the bottom of it and realized that it wasn't going to survive the heat of the day! So Steve rescued the frog, but on his way back out met with an unfortunate accident! His leg was torn open, a hole slightly smaller than a dime, and pretty bloody!

The good part about taking language lessons is, if you ever end up in an emergency room in Montepulciano, you have a shot at communicating with the doctor! We found our brush with the Italian health care system to be just about as easy as you could imagine, even though nobody spoke ANY English! Getting to the triage station, waiting for the doctor, getting stitches and walking out? One hour. And Steve asked if he could pay, and they said no! Obama-care, eat your heart out!

After our amazingly quick and free trip to the emergency room, we were on our way to Rome. We stopped in Cetona for lunch, since I'd heard that Osteria Vecchia was not to be missed. I'm glad we made time to stop here, as the food was very delicious. We shared another lovely Tuscan crostini platter, then I had the pici with spicy tomato sauce (simple but perfect) and Steve had the tagliatelle with a flavorful meat sauce (picture below). We shared a half bottle of Brunello, as well.

After this tasty pit stop we were back on the road, and then the rain started again, and it was raining much harder than it had at the beginning of our trip. We hit traffic on the ring road outside Rome, so it took us what seemed like forever to get back to the airport. Check-in for the rental car was a breeze though (thanks again to the detailed article on Slow Travel). Once we returned the car, we went down to arrivals to wait for our ride, and since we knew we had at least 1/2 hour, I stayed with the luggage while Steve shopped for first aid stuff at the pharmacy for his injury, and bought us a new piece of luggage for all our extra stuff.

Our car service driver finally arrived, and we were on our way to Rome in rush hour traffic. I was afraid we would miss our reservation at Sangallo, so I called the hotel's concierge, and he was able to push our reservation back a half an hour. We finally arrived at the Hassler Hotel, which is where you have to check in if you stay at their sister property, Il Palazzetto, a small 4-room inn just down the Spanish Steps from the Hassler. Check-in was smooth, and we were shown Room 1, a nice sized room with a view overlooking the Spanish Steps (staircase to the rooms below). The becolumned decor was luxurious, featuring a spacious armoire stuffed with amenities at the foot of the enormous and comfortable bed, big bathtub and separate glass-doored shower.

We threw down our stuff, got changed and ran out to get a cab to Sangallo.

This restaurant had been recommended by a friend of mine, and it was fabulous. Since it was our 5-year anniversary, we decided to be decadent and do the tasting menu with wine pairing. The menu consisted of 8 delicious courses and EXTREMELY generous pours of each paired wine. An amuse-bouche was a small plate of fresh mozzarella, tomatoes and eggplant. Next came prawns wrapped in phyllo strings with a fruit sauce, then buffalo carpaccio with truffles, ravioli with asparagus and mozzarella, tagliatelle with porcini sauce, swordfish with chickpeas and potatoes, buffalo steak with artichoke and spinach, and finally for dessert, an excellent tiramisu. Every dish was beautifully prepared and presented, and the service was top notch. We will definitely return. Our only regret was that we actually kept on drinking what they kept on POURING, so we had to stay up for a while after we got back to the hotel so we didn't get the spins! It's been a while since I've been that drunk!

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