From Modena to Venice (Italy - Part 4)

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Modena, Italy

Our month long trip was reaching our final week in Italy. After our time in Tuscany, we spent our last days with our Skoda rental car driving up to Modena which is in Italy’s Emilia-Romagna region. We were fortunate enough to enjoy an amazing 12 course tasting menu at the amazing Osteria Francescana led by the great Chef Massimo Bottura, which was voted world's best restaurant in 2016 and is a three star Michelin restaurant. When I first watched the first season and episode of Netflix's Chef's Table, I was blown away by the cinematography and story telling of this docuseries. I was so drawn by Chef Massimo's story and especially his wife as his business partner who influenced and inspired him to push the artistic and traditional norms of Italian cuisine.

We only spent one night in Modena and greatly enjoyed exploring the Mercato Albinelli where fruit, cheese, meat, seafood and also food vendors sold such delicious items. It's definitely worth walking through the market to people watch or to buy items to cook a meal.

Insalata di Mare

Insalata di Mare

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Chocolate with Cherry Ganache

Chocolate with Cherry Ganache

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The crunchy part of lasagne

The crunchy part of lasagne

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Venezia (Venice)

Having spent most of our time in the countryside or smaller towns, Venice was bustling full of tourists. I had come to Venice years ago with my family where we visited every museum and landmark. This time around, we tried to make our experience something unique. A family friend who was born and raised in Venice, offered us his apartment which was located in Canareggio, which is located on the north side of Venice. The neighborhood was still full of locals, but close by the major streets where tourists explored. A few mornings, we woke up prior to sunrise to go explore some landmarks before the crowds got crazy. I would highly suggest this if you are an early bird. We walked through the city where you took in the sites and architecture of the buildings with such ease! Also, as a photographer, the light was just amazing. 

Another great early morning activity is the fish market, which is located close to the Rialto Bridge. Many vendors sell freshly caught seafood at this market. We bought some gambaretti rossi (red shrimp) and cozze di mare (mussels). It's always helpful to learn some key words in Italian especially when your at the market and also understanding kilos and grams.

We really enjoyed a pre dinner wine and cichetti (small tapas-like bites) along a quiet canal-side wine bar called Vino VeroAlso, a great lunch spot is Osteria La Zucca which has some delicious vegetarian dishes. I would recommend a reservation since they fill up!

Gondolas on Grand Canal - Venice
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La Zucca  for lunch

La Zucca for lunch

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View from Rialto Bridge

View from Rialto Bridge

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Burano Island

Burano is about an hour vapretto (water bus) ride from Fondamente Nove which is located on the north side of Venice. Known for its brightly colored fishermen's houses and its casual eateries serving seafood from the lagoon, Burano is also a quaint and quieter place to explore. We enjoyed a meal at the small restaurant called Al Fureghin, where we were welcomed by the owner MicheleYou must try the seafood dishes!

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Burano
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Sunrise view from Ponte dell'Academia

Sunrise view from Ponte dell'Academia

Tuscany (Italy - Part 2 of 4)

Most tourists are very familiar with the beautiful area known as Tuscany. It's known for the capital, Florence, the rolling green hills of the wine country and olive groves. Having been to Florence and the famous tourist sites in previous years, we decided to spend more time exploring the countryside and the wineries especially in the Brunello wine country. 

Florence
Known for it's renaissance art and architecture, Florence is full of beautiful museums and churches that highlight a lot of the great artists like Michelangelo and Botticelli. We were able to walk around the streets, eat lampredotto (Florentine street food tripe sandwich), and enjoy busy tourist town even in early September. I highly suggest going to Piazzale Michelangelo at sunset where you can see a beautiful view of the city as seen below. I'd recommend taking the bus since it is a pretty steep climb up.

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Ditta Artiginale

Ditta Artiginale

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Ditta Artiginale  - view from 2nd floor

Ditta Artiginale - view from 2nd floor

Our Airbnb at Casa Podere la Casina - Rigomagno

Our Airbnb at Casa Podere la Casina - Rigomagno

Piazza del Campo - Siena

Piazza del Campo - Siena

Duomo - Siena

Duomo - Siena

Montepulciano
Montepulciano was just a 30 minute drive from our Airbnb. It was a great short day trip to see the medieval and renaissance town that sits on a high hill. Most of these Italian hill cities are very walkable and allow limited car traffic. We really enjoyed going to the different cantinas where we were able to taste some delicious vino nobile. We enjoyed a casual lunch at La casa di Edel - da Baffo where you could enjoy a simple sandwich and a glass of wine. Caffè Poliziano has a very small balcony but if you're lucky enough to score a seat, I'd highly recommend paying an extra euro for espresso to enjoy the view.

Piazza Grande

Piazza Grande

View from balcony at  Caffè Poliziano

View from balcony at Caffè Poliziano

Caffe Poliziano
View from balcony at  Caffè Poliziano

View from balcony at Caffè Poliziano

Montepulciano
Piadine

Piadine

Montalcino
Known for their Brunello wines, Montalcino is another beautiful area with some delicious wines. We had the pleasure of visiting Sesta Di Sopra where we were greeted by winemaker Ettora and his wife Enrica. We go to sit down in their dining room where Ettora poured us his delicious wines with some different crackers and also some dark chocolates. He later showed us around his cellar and shared more about his process. It was such a lovely afternoon where we enjoyed a private tour and informative tasting. We also got to visit Poggio Antico a slightly more commercial vineyard (recently famous for the wine that Obama gifted to John Boehner). 

Sesta Di Sopra - Montalcino
Sesta Di Sopra - Montalcino
Sesta Di Sopra - Montalcino
Sesta Di Sopra - Montalcino
Sesta Di Sopra
Poggio Antico - Montalcino
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Poggio Antico - Montalcino
Harvest time 

Harvest time 

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Biggest fig tree fresh for harvest

Biggest fig tree fresh for harvest

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Love x Food Cooking Class
Just outside Florence, we had such a lovely class with our instructors Luca and  Lorenzo. Passed down from their families', we learned how to make ravioli with ricotta and lemon zest, tiramisu (tuscan style), and various types of pasta. Being a handmade pasta newbie, Luca and Lorenzo were very patient and explained the fundamentals of pasta making. We all rolled our own pasta dough, folded ravioli and made spaghetti a la guittara. During our breaks, wine was plentiful and so were the fresh antipasti at the family table outside overlooking the countryside.

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La Marzocco Factory
For anybody that works in the coffee industry or is an espresso drinker, taking a tour of La Marzocco factory just outside of Florence is a must. We were so warmly welcomed by Sylvia who spent a couple hours with us talking about the history of La Marzocco and showed us every step of the process of how they create their espresso machines. She spoke so passionately and proudly about the craftsmanship that goes into every part and piece of their machines. After seeing the factory, I'm personally excited to have a La Marzocco Linea Mini machine in my house in the near future.

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