Tag Archives: Tuscany

Autumn tour part 1: Tuscany, Abruzzo

Let me just start off by saying that the weather during the whole trip was just gorgeous. Initially I had my concerns, being mid-October and all, but everywhere we went it was beautiful, sunny, and warm with the exception of some sleet while we were upland in northern Molise. On day 1 (Tuscany) and 2 (Abruzzo) we averaged 400 km/250 miles on each stretch, made frequent stops for the dogs, and took caffeine breaks before hitting the road again.

La Muccheria vacation apartments
La Muccheria, Via San Bartolo, 100, 57027 San Vincenzo (LI)

Traveling during off-season scored us some really great deals on lodging. In Tuscany we had a 1-bedroom apartment (55 m²) with fully-equipped kitchen, free wifi, and a fine view of the pool and grounds for 39€/night plus an extra 12€ for the dogs. I imagine the price triples during the summer season but the location is perfect and a short drive to the beach.

View from apartment at La Muccheria
Looking out the bedroom window at La Muccheria

The following night at a donkey farm in Abruzzo was mainly because we can’t seem to get enough of them in our travels. And a place that translates to Golden Donkey Inn? No resisting that, or them, and I did have the chance to ride one but changed my mind (too scared that I’d fall off). Walking one is easier, or so I thought, and here I am with donkey in tow. The owner, Gloria, advised against “being soft” and to take the lead, otherwise our cute friend would just stop and we’d end up with a stubborn ass on our hands.

At Locanda dell'Asino d'oro
Donkeying around at Locanda dell’Asino d’Oro, Introdacqua, Sulmona (AQ)

We really enjoyed our stay at the inn but this is where we had our first experience with not so dog-friendly restaurants. In the north we rarely come across this problem, but the further south we went, it was different, especially for places that we already had in mind. In the end we found a pizzeria that allowed our two to accompany us. Pizza in the south is amazing. We’ve tried napoletano-style pizza in the north and while good, it’s just not the same. The dough has better flavor, a soft, thin crust and a high edge. After a couple of beers and coffee, we called it a night.

Friarelli and salsiccia
Friarelli (rapini or broccoli rabe) and salsiccia

To be continued in Basilicata, in one of the most beautiful villages in Italy…

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Sagra dei Pesci

Castiglione della Pescaia – And on the 4th day, there was a fish sagra.

Sagra dei Pesci

The evening before heading back home, we considered the idea of dinner service offered by the agriturismo’s hosts (the owner is a fisherman and cooks up these fabulous, multi-course meals), but then I had to spot this fish festival poster above. OH yes!

Regular readers know of my mad enthusiasm for traditional food events, and there was no question about where we’d dine that night. Held at a sports camp in the neighborhood of Casa Mora, we got there early before the crowds rolled in.

The menu was primarily fish with a couple of meat options thrown in for carnivores.

Sarde marinate con cipolla Tortelli al pesce
Baby sardines with onions — Spinach and ricotta-stuffed tortelli in octopus sauce

Tagliolini del pescatore Calamari ripieni in salsa
Tagliolini in a tomato-based seafood sauce — Stuffed calamari

It doesn’t look like we ate much but there was still some cheese, salumi and wine back at the cottage. Prices were a tad higher (altogether we spent 34€ which included service and a cup of beer), but that’s the norm for fish dishes in Italy anyway. The sagra was also open to dogs, so there wasn’t a problem with our two.

The following morning it was goodbye to our donkey companions (the westie saluted them with a woof!) and a promise to return soon. In October, not far from the agriturismo, there’s a festival serving mushroom dishes, chestnuts, wine, polenta, and wild boar. Che bontà!

La Dolce Vita - goodbye donkeys!

Tuscany day 3: Montelliccio dog beach, and more pesce fritto

Maddie at Mortelliccio

Our two “kids” are seasoned travelers in that they do fine on road trips, carry valid canine passports, and behave like saints at restaurants and in public places. This is the first time taking them to a dog beach/spiaggia per cani, and as it goes with all firsts, it’ll either be a good or a bad thing.

It was a hit.

Mr. B's first encounter sand

As I suspected, this landwiener stayed clear of the water and had zero interest in getting his feet wet. He was so engrossed with digging that all other dogs were ignored and not worth barking at.

Mr. B at Mortelliccio

I’ve never seen them so doggone ecstatic, so blown away by this fine, soft, dry material that falls back on itself. While Mr. B dug a hole to China, Maddie investigated the waves and had a sip. Bleah!

Maddie's first encounter ocean

The Mortelliccio location (north of Follonica) was surprisingly clean, long, and not crowded as I had imagined. Visiting before summer is most likely the reason, but I have no doubt the place sees a lot of quadrupeds and their humans during peak tourist season. From the pay-park (1€/hour) it’s a short walk to the beach.

da Mauro e Andreia

We spent an hour soaking up the sun before heading back for lunch, but not before picking up more of that delicious fried seafood from da Mauro and Andreia’s in Castiglione della Pescaia.

Lunch after the beach