10th June 2017

Note to self: You are allowed to say thanks, but no thanks.

Last night Angelica put me in contact with a tour guide friend of hers who organised for me to do a 1 day trip to the Cinque Terre tomorrow, in the flurry of last night I said yes and organised it. When I woke up this morning, having slept on it, I realised that I didn’t really want to rush through the Cinque Terre in a day, nor was I up for a 12-14hr fast paced ordeal. So I decided to cancel, I did feel bad but at the same time I should only do whatever I feel comfortable doing and I had been looking forward to visiting Siena for a while.

Once I had sorted that out in the morning it was smooth sailing and on to another absolutely amazing day!!

As a lot of you know I’ve created a list this year of 25 things to do while I’m 25. Something I’ve always wanted to do and never got around to doing is learn to make pasta from scratch. Even though it’s not necessarily a difficult thing to do, I’ve always wanted to take a class. So, when booking my holiday I figured what better place to learn than in Italy!! I’m officially halfway through my list now too!!

I booked an 8 hour cooking experience today that took us through the streets of Tuscany to pick up our ingredients before heading to a hillside villa to learn how to make bruschetta, pasta, pizza, roast pork and potatoes and tiramisu.

I was super sceptical at first when all the reviews of this tour were extremely positive but I can whole heartedly say now that it was worth every penny and I had an absolutely amazing time!!

First off, when we arrived I was absolutely gobsmacked by the view, it looked like a beautiful painting I couldn’t believe it was real.

Carmella our chef/teacher was a super bubbly, vibrant “Italian Nonna” who barely spoke any English (our tour guide played translator but really Carmella was so energetic her hand gestures were all we needed to understand her) yet managed to teach, make us laugh until we were crying and impart some amazing tips and tricks on us throughout the day.

I had so much fun learning how to cook traditional Italian food, realised a few things I’d been doing wrong over the years (definitely need to cook my ragu sauce for a lot longer), mentally noted to buy a mezza luna when I get home (damn, that thing makes chopping so easy!!) and had a great time chatting with 2 girls from Adelaide (I swear there’s always at least one other Aussie!) It was an absolutely brilliant experience.

Most importantly though, the food was absolutely amazing!!! The bruschetta had 3 ingredients yet because of their superior quality was some of the best I’ve ever had. The pasta and ragu sauce was amazing and I can’t wait to try it out when I get home. The pizza was fun to make and super tasty to eat, while the pork and potatoes was absolutely divine. The tiramisu was also really yummy and I’m going to have to try to find the thinner style of biscuit we used in the class because it made a world of difference!

Now for all the photos…

Produce from around Florence – brilliant red tomatoes, giant blocks of Parmigiano Reggiano, porcini mushrooms and giant Florentine steaks!

The picturesque view!!

Me in front of the picturesque view.

The amazing kitchen! (The gas cooktop has water taps under the plates to flush water over the cooktop to clean it after cooking. Genius.)

Pasta making time!!!! #25while25

Ta da! (Dorky grin)

Roast pork!

Look how red the tomatoes are!

Pizza with too many toppings (3 girls trying to make a decision didn’t go down so well)

Tagliatelle ragu…salivating again.

Pork and the crispiest potatoes ever!

Tiramisu and my 4th empty wine glass…

After finishing the tour I spent the rest of the day with Rhiannon and Nicole from Adelaide. It was great to hang around 2 like minded women for the day, one a Science PhD student, the other in her final semester of medicine, 3 peas in a pod or what? It was great to swap stories about our studies/work/travel/life experiences and reflect on the similarities and differences between growing up in Sydney and Adelaide. I am really enjoying meeting travellers from all around the world and Australia!!

We went on the hunt for some extra virgin olive oil to bring home after being amazed by the quality in the cooking class (I will also be bringing some back from Greece to see who really makes it better!)

The girls introduced me to one of the oldest gelato stores in Florence called Vivoli – hazelnut and pistachio again, I think I’ll turn into a nut soon. It was very nice but rather expensive for the amount.

Our tour guide had warned us that there was this big Florentine soccer event on today but it wasn’t until we witnessed the parade that we realised how big of a deal it was, it went on for ages!!

The game basically involves nearly a hundred men in a giant arena literally fighting each other in a no rules kind of rugby. It was crazy to watch, the red team won 11 1/2 to 3 – whatever that means!

We got some drinks and a late dinner at Mercato Centrale, a cool gourmet food court above the main food market in Florence and spent hours talking, it was another great night! Pizza shouldn’t be allowed to be so cheap and delicious! (Don’t worry we all shared the one pizza)

With our food comas well and truly in play we said good night and headed our separate ways.

I’ve got an early morning train to Siena tomorrow so it’s bed time for me.

Buona notte!

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