As I’ve said before, we are two of the most indecisive people I know. We came to Italy with a brief outline of an itinerary, but after getting half way through we wanted to switch things up a bit. One evening we decided to enquire about visiting an agritourismo, Italy’s network of farmhouses that allow visitors to experience rural life, and within a few hours we had a reservation at Agritourismo Pietreto.
It was a journey to get to Agritourismo Pietreto without having a rented car to drive. From Florence we took a train to Pisa, then a train to Grosseto. The host at Pietreto suggested we buy our groceries in Grosseto due to our arrival on a Sunday when nothing would be open in the nearby town of Roccastrada.
Grocery shopping here is like poking through a specialty food shop at home, where the exact products would cost 4 times the price. It’s very difficult to peel us away from the meat and cheese section, but we eventually shuffled our way back through the streets of Grosseto carrying our regular big backpack/small backpack combo, along with 2 humungous bags of groceries. The Grosseto locals found us funny looking enough to laugh at.
We then hopped on a bus headed for Roccastrada and when we realized we were the only passengers we knew we were headed for somewhere obscure. When we arrived in Roccastrada, we were met by the owner of Pietreto, one of the nicest people we have met so far in Italy, who drove us to his Tuscan farmhouse.
This man and his wife owned a massive property amongst the most typical looking Tuscan landscape, of hills, tall trees, and grape vines. Neither of them spoke a word of English, but won us over with their charisma. We still managed to communicate, though poorly, while they gave us a tour of their house and showed us how to operate the familiar and non familiar cooking appliances.
Despite the rather being cloudy weather with the occasional rain, our three days in the farmhouse were spent cooking up delicious meals of quail on polenta, mushroom risotto, and pasta al forno while sitting around our cozy fireplace in the perfect setting.
A highlight for Nick was the Pizza wood oven which he has long talked about giving a try and we spent one cloudy afternoon building a large hot fire and experimenting with cooking times to create that perfect pie.
By the time we left we had gone through mountains of meat, cheese, and pasta, and polished off a bottle of wine each a day including the complimentary bottle given to us by our hospitable hosts.
Roccastrada is evidence of the joys of traveling with an open mind. What might be one of our most memorable times in Italy was a spur of the moment decision while googling bored one night. Italy has some of the world’s most beautiful cities, but like most backpackers in Europe might find, it can be hard to get away from the big city lights. What we found in the Tuscan countryside was a relaxing, comfortable experience in a beautifully restored ancient stone house, and we wouldn’t change it for the world.