Marina rarely used recipes (and couldn’t help diverging from them when she did), never thought her cooking was anything special, and was imperturbable in the kitchen, no matter how many potatoes were in the air at once.
What did we do all week besides go to the market, cook, and eat? Milvio says La Vetrichina attracts two types of people: those who are up at dawn, intent upon visiting every noteworthy attraction (they’re countless) within a two-hour radius, and those who spend their days lazing around La Vetrichina, rarely venturing farther than lovely San Casciano. We were decidedly of the second variety. We dropped by San Casciano’s hilarious palio—a madcap frog race replete with Renaissance pageantry, friendly rivalry, and dishes like salsicce e fagioli (sausages and borlotti beans) and ribollita (“twice-boiled” vegetable, bean, and bread soup). We even spent half a day—and far too much money—being rubbed, scrubbed, and steamed at the swanky Fonteverde Spa. It was nice enough, in a faux-luxurious sort of way. But we couldn’t wait to get back home and into the kitchen. In the end, all we really did want to do was cook. (781-639-4040; homebaseabroad.com; $11,600 for one week, including meals and wine)
What I Learned
Fresh-shelled beans cook in half the time of their dried counterparts and are twice as delicious.
How happy my kids were to help in the kitchen (as long as it wasn’t me who had asked them).
Before You Go
You don’t really have to think about a thing: Homebase Abroad sends out an extensive questionnaire at the time of booking, asking about everything from what you’d like to find in the fridge upon arrival to whether you’d be interested in attending a wine tasting or renting a Harley Davidson.