Breathtaking Tuscany

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Breathtaking Tuscany and Delicious Ossobuco

Today is October 16th, and after exactly one year, I am returning to my beloved Florence. The past year has flown by, and I am so much looking forward to again wandering through the beautiful streets of this romantic city. This time, however, I am not undertaking the trip alone but with family and friends. You could also call it a bit of a “test” trip…because our new website,, will be launching soon. On this website, we offer all kinds of services, including tailor-made city trips and short breaks. So, this trip is a great opportunity to test my organisational skills… 😊

And where else would we have dinner on the first night other than my favourite restaurant, ZàZà ?! My fellow travelers’ entrée choice is the “Lombatina di Vitella alla brace” (grilled veal loin), and for me, it is of course a dish with fresh truffle. We finish the evening with some delicious Cantuccini (almond biscuits) dipped in Vinsanto, a Tuscan holy wine dessert that probably got its name because it tastes so heavenly 😉 .

We all had a fantastic meal and everybody is feeling good after a rather long trip, so the first part of the mission has been accomplished, and I can go to sleep with peace of mind.

The Tuscan Countryside

The next morning, we leave the city for a 3-day tour through the Tuscan countryside, where we are going to visit several beautiful villages. I am looking forward to it! And things only get better when it turns out that we get a considerable up-grade to a BMW station wagon at Sixt. Later, it would appear that not everyone was equally happy with the up-grade 😏.


Our first stop is Radda in Chianti, one of the many ancient villages in this beautiful wine region. The landscape is a succession of rolling green hills, extensive vineyards, olive groves and the typical cypress trees of this region. The weather is beautiful and the scenery looks almost like a fairy-tale.

Nowadays, Tuscan Chianti is mostly sold in standard wine bottles, but in the past, it was bottled in the famous “Fiasco Toscano” – those round bottles with a wicker basket. You probably still remember these bottles from when they were used as candle holders in almost every Italian restaurant.

These little wicker baskets around the bottles had a double function. In those days it was much easier to produce bottles with a rounded bottom, so the basket served as a stable base and also protected the bottle during transport by cart.


We continue our tour through the Tuscan countryside in the direction of the city of Arezzo, and we arrive around lunchtime – perfect timing. There is much to see in this beautiful city, but the old market square, Piazza Grande, is not to be missed. Walking across this square, you almost feel as if you are back in the Middle Ages. Everything from antiquity has been so perfectly preserved; how do the Italians do that?


The next destination is Pienza, a gem in the Val d’Orcia.  This small but beautiful village lies on top of a hill, and the views over the Val d’Orcia are breathtaking. The advice to visit this town came from an Italian correspondent friend, and I am very grateful to him because this town made a special impression on me.

Pienza is a creation of Pope Pius II who – in the 15th century – transformed his birthplace into a true architectural treasure. Of course, the dear old man had the money and influence to achieve this, but still… In 1996, Unesco rightly declared the town a protected world heritage site.

The narrow streets and stone houses are beautifully maintained and everything is super clean, which is something we have noticed everywhere so far.

Abbadia Sicille

So, now it is time to find a place to spend the night. We are going to sleep in Abbadia Sicille, an ancient hamlet near Siena. The monastery and the church of Abbadia Sicille date back to the year 1000. It seems as if time has stood still here – everything breathes antiquity but with modern comfort. The little apartments are nicely decorated, super clean and breakfast was delivered at the doorstep. So, all in all, worth a recommendation!

We had booked this place especially because there was a restaurant, and we wanted to stay “at home” tonight…but when we checked in, it turned out that the restaurant was already fully booked.

Oooh…and what are we going to do now, travel guide? Luckily, the receptionist came up with a few alternatives in nearby villages, so we set off on another adventure – and an adventure it was! I will spare you all the details but it involved pitch black roads, villages where we got stuck in impossibly narrow streets (literally a few centimetres left on each side – with mirrors folded back), a kitchen fire in the first restaurant, a fully booked second restaurant and a take-away that could only deliver pizzas from 21h30…

The tour guide decides that the best thing to do is to go back to the hotel. Once back in the hotel, she comes up with a “sad” story 😊, and half an hour later – after some deliberation – a table was available in the cozy restaurant, “Fondo,” where we had a fantastic meal. All’s well that ends well!

Next time I’ll take you to Siena, Colle di Val d’Elsa, San Gimignano and Pisa, among other places, but first we’re going to eat delicious Ossobuco …

Ossobuco alla Birra (Veal shank in beer with potato and mushroom quiche- serves 4)

During my stay in Tuscany, I ate the most delicious Ossobuco so I thought it would like to share this recipe with you.

Ingredients for the Ossobuco alla birra:

  • 130 ml beer
    50 g vegetable stock
    4 veal shanks
    2 large red onions
    2 teaspoons acacia honey
    1 teaspoon paprika
    1 lemon
    1 clove of garlic
    1 sprig of rosemary
    flour to taste
    salt to taste
    pepper to taste
    Olive oil to taste

For the potato and mushroom quiche

  • 500 g potatoes
    150 g ceps (may also be frozen)
    25 g butter
    2 sprigs of thyme
    2 sprigs of parsley
    2 tbsp grated Grana Padano cheese
    1 egg
    1 clove of garlic
    salt to taste
    pepper to taste
    Olive oil to taste

For the yoghurt sauce :

  • 100 g Greek yoghurt
  • 50 g fresh cream
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon acacia honey
  • A few drops of lemon
  • Parsley pepper to taste

Preparation :

For the potato and mushroom pie, boil the potatoes, mash them and, while they are still warm, season them with butter, salt, pepper, Grana Padano cheese and egg. Blend until you have a puree.

Put the chopped garlic, oil, thyme and parsley in a frying pan and add the cleaned, washed and sliced mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper and cook.

Line a baking tray with baking paper, place 4 pastry trays (7 cm diameter) on it, cover the edges with strips of baking paper, and in each tray put a spoonful of puree, the mushrooms and more puree. Set aside.

For the veal shanks, put a large frying pan on medium-low heat, add the oil, chopped garlic, rosemary and grated lemon rind and, as soon as they are hot, add the veal shanks, previously floured and sliced at the edges.

Fry them brown on both sides.

Season with salt and pepper, add the honey and chopped onions.

Cover, turn down the heat and let the onions soften, then add a mixture of beer, stock and paprika, cover and cook for about an hour and a half.

The cooking sauce should be thick and full of flavour.

Bring the oven to 200° and bake the potato and mushroom tarts for about 20 minutes, or until a crust has formed.

For the yoghurt sauce, beat the yoghurt with cream, lemon, honey, salt, pepper and chopped parsley.

Serve the veal shank with plenty of sauce, the potato cake and the yoghurt sauce.

Buon appetito !


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