Tuscany villages – “Il Secondo Piatto e il Dolce”

Did you read the first part: Tuscany villages – the Starter and Primo Piatto? If not, you can find it here.

I would not have earned a living from tips from this Italian feast. Especially, as the main meal and the dessert arrived a tad too late – “merely” a two month delay. On a bright side though, you must be starving by now, so let’s get back to it!

I have to warn you though, proceed with this feast with not only an open mouth, but also with an open mind. Some of my “dishes” contain ingredients not found in the mainstream “supermarkets”. Even with the help of the cook book (Google), they may be difficult to find.

Let’s start with something familiar for the main meal (Italian secondo piatto)

San Gimignano is probably one of the most well-known places in Tuscany. It does look a little like a tiny Bologna due to the similar towers there. However, in my opinion, it is one of these “dishes” that look better than they taste. We have visited San Gimignano three or four times at different times of the year. This time in March/April, and it is probably the best time to visit if you would like a good mix of decent weather and fewer tourists.

San Gimignano – it does look beautiful from afar, view from the road
Towers in San Gimignano – taken in less touristy part of the town
San Gimignano with a (not so well) hidden message – I am sure you can spot it, and will inspire you to do the same with your loved one or a good friend!

Another proposition for the secondo piatto on our menu is an unknown little town. Its name is “La Sassa”. It is one of these places that even Google tells you is in France, and can get very confusing.

Tip: Use the full name in your search “la sassa montecatini val di Cecina” to find it.

We discovered it purely by accident whilst driving nearby. It was one of those moments where we picked up a place on the map and just went to see it. Totally unprepared. Such a beautiful place and not a single tourist! A dream come true. It is a village that grew together with the rock. Many of the buildings are actually part mountain and part a house.

Tip: Be spontaneous, you never know what is waiting for you there!
When the building meets a mountain, La Sassa
La Sassa – naturally landscaped front yard rock garden
La Sassa – stone stairs
It was noticeably colder in La Sassa. After all it is situated on the mountain, quite high up.
Tuscany hills around La Sassa.

The third option for “secondo piatto” is a treat for history lovers.

It literally radiates with history.  The name of the place is called Populonia and it is known for the remains of the Etruscan civilization, going back 700 years BC. The remains are scattered across the whole region, and you can walk for miles to explore. The surrounding nature is also beautiful.

Tip: An ideal place for hiking, bike rides, nature walks, and history. Something for everyone.
Tip: Park just outside Populonia. There is a little car park where many locals park. It is about 10-15 minutes’ walk from the town, and it is free.
Road from locals’ car park towards Populonia
Our short nature trek – our “shortcut” from the car park. We had to come back and use the “proper” route (picture above)
Ten minutes away from Populonia – the view on the right is in the picture below
The view from our walk to Populonia
One of the cycle routes – you could also hike here, but you will need plenty of time to do than on foot.
Populonia – peaceful, yet welcoming place to rest just outside of the city walls
A large water tower inside Populonia town. There is a small fee to enter, but it is well worth it! We were very lucky as all of that was just for us to explore.
The view from the tower, Populonia

Time for the Sylwia’s best part of the meal – dessert. The first one is called Casole d’Elsa, and it is a somewhat unknown place. Whist the town is a typical Italian place; it has an interesting “feature” which tells you a short story about Italian habits.

There are many terraces with beautiful views all over Italy. Pretty much all hills towns have them, and there must be something about them which brings people closer. It is almost impossible not to notice a kissing couple on at least one of them. Obviously, this was not only my observation – it has inspired an artist below.

Casole d’Elsa – a kissing couple statue
Spotted not far from the first statue, Casole d’Elsa – it is not all about romance here!

The last option on our menu is the place you have never heard of. It is the only place on our “menu” that is actually connected to food. It is a “farm shop” with locally made cheeses. They are absolutely delicious. If there was one culinary thing I would recommend to you here, in Tuscany, it’s this place. You will not regret it!

Tip: The exact location for this place is 43.3925, 10.99306 – copy and paste to Google

Most cheeses there are made from goats’ milk (Italian: pecora). The must try are: Fresh mozzarella (La mozzarella fresca), Burata (if available), home-made gelato, hard cheese, and the king of all Italian cheeses: fresh ricotta (Ricotta Fresca). Ricotta is so light and delicious that you can eat tons of it! Just the thought of it makes me hungry.

Formaggi Fratelli Carai – by far the best cheese we have eaten in Tuscany
An interesting fact: “A Km 0” has a special meaning in Italy. It means the local produce. (The food travels 0 kms to the shop).
A small “bucket” of Ricotta Fresca – it must be soft, wet, light, and super fresh.
Our simple yet delicious “economy” meal. We also experimented with “Toscana beer” and it actually is very good.

I hope that this “Tuscan feast” has left more questions than answers. It is my goal to waken your appetite to explore and discover yourself, rather than “lay all ready for you on a plate”. I do not want to reveal too much!

Thanks for sharing and comments.

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