Sunday, July 11, 2010

Italy Trip Day 3 - Gubbio & Cortona

Woke up to another rainy day. It was getting a little depressing, but we didn't let that stop us from heading out early after breakfast to drive to Gubbio, the town of festivals. As luck would have it, there had been a festival in Gubbio just the day before, so the town was still decorated with hundreds of flags, and still had a festive air about it (and almost no Americans, as we discovered walking around, and hearing only Italian spoken by all). We strolled around town until we found ourselves at the funivia, a funicular, like a ski lift, that takes you up the side of a mountain to a pretty church and an amazing view of Gubbio and the valley below. It was scary, but fun, and the views were well worth the few white-knuckled moments in the air!

After getting back to solid ground, we found our stop for lunch, Taverna del Lupo. This place was more upscale than most of the other places we ate during the trip, but the service was attentive, not stuffy, and the food was excellent. We started with the aptly-named "delights of the house" (a huge selection of different antipasti), then I had the lasagne with ham, mushrooms and truffles, and Steve had a pasta with guinea fowl. We share another bottle of Sagrantino. I should take a minute here and explain that under normal circumstances, even while on vacation, we hardly ever drink an entire bottle of wine with lunch, and then yet another with dinner, but we loved the wine here (and we were indulging in two and three courses for every meal), so we couldn't help ourselves. At lunches, we keep saying that we'd order the bottle, but just not drink it all, but every time, we'd be near the end of lunch, and see the bottle empty. Oh well, I guess that's what vacations are for!

After lunch, while walking back to the car, we stopped at the 20 B.C. Roman amphitheater, which was covered in beautiful green grass. We took tons more pictures, then headed to the more famous hilltown of Cortona, famed from the book "Under the Tuscan Sun," which no doubt was also the inspiration for the sudden influx of dozens of American college girls running around, the first real American tourist presence we saw on the trip.

After some more exploring there, we were welcomed into the cheerful, pretty restaurant, La Bucaccia. The owner was quite the character, joking and laughing with the whole restaurant, and at one point used our camera to take unique portraits of each of us by pointing the lens through our wine glasses! The food here was every bit as memorable as the atmosphere. Steve had an antipasti of cured meats, then ravioli with meat sauce, followed by a vegetable flan alongside an enormous serving of pork liver (which he couldn't finish, even after a valiant effort), while I had tagliatelle with wild boar and a tender but unremarkable roasted pork with potatoes. This all paired very nicely with a bottle of Rosso from Avignonesi, a winery we'd soon be touring...

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