Day 141 of 400: Arezzo and La Verna – Italy

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The restaurant we went to in Arezzo for lunch today was so adorable.  It held about seven tables and the colors were a brick-red and white.  The menus were hand written in Italian.  We ordered the antipasti to start which consisted of different meats, a bread salad, a couple crostini’s and a piece of ham…we followed that with a salad and a pasta served with wild boar sauce.  The salad was fine and the pasta was very good…you could tell the noodles were homemade.

We walked around just a bit through Arezzo, seeing the main square and some of its boutiques.  The city seemed much bigger than the other small town villages but not a large city either.  We got back in our car thankful we didn’t have a parking ticket and left for a town called, La Verna.  We really didn’t know much about La Verna but reading the Michelin guide…it sounded like it had a really nice viewpoint and we wanted to see some of the Arezzo region.

We drove for about an hour and noticed the elevation was increasing and the small narrow roads were extremely curvy, as in if you get car sick…do not take this road.  As we got closer to the town, we saw a huge monastery on a cliff high above where we were…we assumed the road would take us to the top but then saw a big hiking sign.  We parked and walked over to see what kind of hike there was…we found out we were in a national forest.  We took the steep hike uphill through the woods, huffing and puffing our way to the top.  When we arrived and walked onto the large open area of the monastery…we saw breathtaking panoramic views.  There were monks walking around and just a couple other people enjoying the scenery.  Absorbed in the serenity, we enjoyed the moment…we could feel the peacefulness of this special place.  Leaving the monastery for our hike back down, we soon realized we were surrounded by beautiful tall slender trees and were all by ourselves in the forest.

Sweaty and out of breath, we returned to our car and continued driving up the mountain to Camaldoli, another small town centered around a monastery.  It had about six or seven buildings within the town and was surrounded by tall trees…a definite hiking and mountain biking area.  We walked through some of the monastery and stopped at a cafe for a fresh squeezed OJ with blueberry ricotta pastry.  We were so hungry and the restaurant we planned on going to was supposed to be in this tiny town but we couldn’t find it.  We showed the name of the restaurant to the women working behind the counter and she told us the restaurant was only a few kilometers away and was her uncle’s restaurant!  Small town…

Sure enough 3-4 kilometers later, we arrived in a tiny town called Moggiona near the village of Poppi at the restaurant we were looking for, Il Cedro.  As soon as we walked in…we felt like we were at our grandparents house.  The furniture and the decor just felt like we were in grandpa’s dining room.  We found out this was a family business and the restaurant was added onto the family house.  The women who took our order was also part of the family.  She took out one of the family photo albums and pointed to herself when she was younger.  She said the restaurant opened over 30 years ago.  She gave us a warm welcome and instead of handing us menus…she verbally told us what our options were. She named multiple homemade pastas and various meats.  Giff had homemade noodles with hare ragu and I started with a typical local pasta dish (we can’t remember the name) which is basically homemade ravioli stuffed with potato in a bolognese sauce.  Both pastas were very delicious.  We followed it with a dish of slow roasted wild boar served with white beans which was also very good.  I would give the link to this family run restaurant because you should eat there if in this area…but I don’t think they have one.

Tired from our long day, we headed back to our place.

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