It’s a sunny late morning when we roll off the boat in Civitavecchia. Spring has definitely arrived! Sergio from Passompomo gave us as a leaving present a beautiful slab of volcanic stone for barbequeing meat and veg on. Today is the day we want to christen it, so we stop off in Tarquina to buy some fish and then drive on to find a quiet place in the Tuscan hills for a barbeque feast. We have the fish and grilled fennel and some potato mash with fresh mint and all tastes delicious, especially the grilled things. Thank you, Sergio!
Frank needs to find a place where he can watch the Rugby the next day, so we drop in on a hotel in Manciano – Hotel Rossi, a very friendly and helpful family-run hotel – where they allow us to use the internet and offer themselves as a back-up in case we don’t find a place that shows the rugby. After 10 minutes conversation with both mother and son, they heartily say good-bye as if we’ve been life-long friends, plus the mother says ‘if you ever need anything, you know where to find us’. This has happened to us several times on our journey: people have given us their contact details and emphatically said that if we are in trouble and need to ring a friend, we should call them. The Italians are very friendly people and I should be used to it by now, nevertheless, such genuine and open-hearted offers still overwhelm me each time I hear them.
We move on towards Saturnia (where the hot springs are). I remember stopping off at a friendly-looking pizza place and asking for directions when we came here 4 months ago. In my memory it seemed to be the kind of place that might have a screen to watch sports, so we park up and go inside. They are indeed very friendly people and happy to help even though they don’t have a screen themselves, but Frank is welcome to connect to the internet and watch the game on his computer. We are also welcome to remain in their car park overnight, so we decide to stay put and treat ourselves to a Pizza. Frank and I normally have a pact that we don’t go out for a meal unless we are fairly sure that it will be better than what we can produce ourselves. This time, we take a chance, and it is well worth taking! This is the best Pizza we have ever eaten. What is the secret, we ask Stefano, the joyful and vivacious owner. He smiles, not prepared to give away his culinary secrets, apart from the fact that the dough is not made with yeast but has undergone a natural levitation process of 72 hours, so it’s a kind of sourdough I guess. I suppose the other open secret is the quality of local produce…
Frank has another meal the next day (while he’s watching Rugby late into the evening when I’m asleep), which includes a delicious anti-pasta, some ingredients of which he doesn’t recognise. We ask the next day and it turns out to be Bacalao!
Stefano is very happy for us to stay parked up by his restaurant, so we have a day of catching up on admin and the blog before heading for an evening dip in the hot springs.
It is such a pleasure to be outside sitting in hot water, and I don’t even mind the sulphurous smell. It is busier than it was in November but there is plenty of space, and it’s lovely to see whole families enjoying themselves.
The next day, we say good-bye to Stefano, pass by the hot springs for another dip and then set off in the direction of Montalcino.
If anyone would like to visit Stefano’s Restaurant, here it is on Trip Advisor. They also do accommodation and it’s not far from the hot springs – only about 4km.
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