A Weekend in Florence

santa-maria-novella-exterior

After a few days on Etna, I flew north to see my mother in Florence, there with her garden club from Atlanta (it was a long day, with planes, trains, and automobiles in between after I missed the one direct flight from Catania to Florence that day). I arrived hot and sweaty at the Croce di Malta hotel right off the piazza Santa Maria Novella, showered, and hurried to meet mom and her friends at Buca Lapi on the nearby via del Trebbio.

Continue reading

Stay: Relais Monaci delle Terre Nere, Sicily

It had been a long day in the car – my mother driving, me navigating, and my long-legged brother in the back seat trying not to get car sick – as we drove up from Agrigento in the southwest, through Enna and Piazza Armerina, home to the lovely and well-preserved Roman mosaics at the Villa Romana del Casale. With Mt. Etna’s peak long looming in the distance, we were happy to finally have arrive on the lower slopes of the volcano. Just past the tight, black stone-cobbled streets of Santa Venerina, we stumbled upon the road sign leading the way to our destination, the hotel Monaci delle Terre Nere. Monaci delle Terre Nere

Continue reading

Visit: A Sheep Farm in New Zealand

It was stupid of me to wear open-toed shoes when I visited Cape Campbell Farm, a windy, mountainous property on the Pacific coast of New Zealand’s South Island. More stupid, perhaps, to volunteer to sort, or draft, the farm’s sheep, a tough, semi-wild breed that came up to my waist, but Rob Peter, the farm’s owner, had made it look so easy. I found myself standing next to a narrow channel of sheep with my hands on different gates, ready to direct them into distinct pens. They were marked with colored chalk—”Orange to your left, blue to your right, unmarked straight ahead,” Rob explained. “And careful of your fingers; they’ve got very hard heads and will be running very fast.” Then he unpinned the sheep and set the dogs barking. Large, scared, jumpy animals that they are, the sheep stumbled over each other, scrambling to get out through the narrow passage, as I tried and failed to keep up. At least my toes didn’t get trampled! 
Originally published on SAVEUR.com

Visiting Champagne

A visit to the French region of Champagne, visiting houses and growers, caves and restaurants, offers a little glimpse into the places that make these very specific wines. With their somber countenance and chic looks, the Champenois embody the seriousness with which Champagne is produced and marketed. No region in world is known so much for such internationally acclaimed brands, whose producers seek to create the same quality and style of wine year in and year out. They painstakingly blend grapes and vintages for the perfect base wine, and then they wait. The patience that is required to make these wines, letting some age for up to ten years, is the ultimate expression of refinement. Continue reading