Take Me Back to My First Love: Montalcino and San Leo (Again)


After embarking from Le Tre Stelle, we rerouted in the direction of Montalcino, located southeast of San Gimignano. Montalcino is another walled medieval town, situated on top of a mountain (overlooking vineyards…as pictured above). Despite the massive amounts of rain and fog, we managed to snap a few absolutely gorgeous photos that really sum up the city well. Unlike than many of the other Tuscan towns, Montalcino has only a small tourist population, most of the town boasts of quaint residential spaces.

It would have been very easy to have become discouraged. However, we took the opportunity to enjoy the quiet Tuscan surrounds, the beautiful landscaping, and the lush hue that the vegetation boasted of.

We also saw a super cute Tiffany blue car.

The city was picture perfect, like out of a Tuscan novel.

Flower boxes bloomed from wall to wall.

Colorful Tuscan houses ornately decorated the sky-line.

Lace curtains complimented the aged wood windows.

And the Tuscan colors blended together like watercolor paintings.

It was at this point that we were completely soaked and ready for a bit of relief. We stumbled upon a “Tuscan fortress,” jumped over a foot high puddle of water, and were rewarded with the most interesting wine and gourmet food shop that one could imagine.

All the wines were from different produces around Montalcino. The bottles were beautifully designed and strategically crafted.

There were multiple different types, not two were quite alike.

Several of the labels were absolutely beautiful and boasted of Tuscan scenes or paintings.

They also had an impressive collection of aged Brunello Di Montalcino wine. Starting at over 100 Euros and finishing at the bottle to the top right, 5000 Euros.


And after we were overwhelmed by the beauty of the city (and more than excited to squeeze ourselves dry), we arrived at Boccon Di Vino, the restaurant that was the main point of the trip to Montalcino (a recommendation by Rachel Ray).

Once we arrived, we were greeted by a tiny handwritten sign that stated.

“We are sorry, but we are closed due to lack of power.”


What do you mean CLOSED!

So, I did what any food obsessed 21 year old culinary student would do.

I ran around in circles crying and sobbing in hopes that someone inside of the building would come out and attempt to ease the embarrassment of my family with fine Tuscan cuisine.

You know, it really didn’t work.

I just frightened the man inside, who was picking up chairs. He slowly creeped away from the window, in fear that I may burn down his building or injure a small mammal in my rage.

It wasn’t a pretty moment, but it sure was a memorable one.

So, I pouted.

Then we found the next best thing: a random home-town restaurant that reminded me of OIP back home, Tuscan Style.

It was ecclectically decorated and even had a TV so we could be American and watch while we eat!

And once I looked a little bit closer, I realized that the television was playing none other than an episode of the Simpsons.

I have no words.

So, I tried to block it from my memory as I translated the entire Italian menu into English for my family.

And after my description s such as, “oh thats some type of pasta…err…ravioli…filled with peaches, I mean fish, and topped with honey butter….or that may mean truffle butter,” we ended up with this.

Fantastic Tomato Bruschetta

A perfectly cooked asparagus risotto

A succulent spinach ravioli with butter and sage

And truffle ravioli with assorted mushrooms.

And seriously, it was incredible. We all were ridiculously pleased with our meals and played fork war when people wanted “just a bite” of our dish.

I was eating in Tuscan OIP, and I loved it.

After our fueling session, we began our treck to Figline Valderno, where my beloved first love is located: Agriturismo San Leo. But first, we had the opportunity to follow this speed tractor.


I thought I left you.

The winding roads of Tuscany finally led us to my long-lost home of peace and Tuscan loving.

Third time is a charm, they say. And, I long to return to San Leo as often as the Lord permits in my life.

I had communicated with the owner, Patrizia, to show us how to make that mouthwatering bread that my friends and I have become addicted to.

I seriously have dreams about her bread…and then nightmares about how I won’t be able to get it when I go home.

So after we checked into our room, took a nap to forget how lost we got getting here, and changed into comfy clothes, we were ready for our bread lesson.

And I personally thought that the best way to learn how to make bread was in your pajamas.

So, that’s what I did.

I wore my pajamas to dinner.

And I liked it.

And I convinced Jayme to do it too.

So we rolled up our sleeves and got down and dirty with our bread.

And we kneaded and we laughed and we joked and we giggled. It was such an amazing time of sharing the things that I love most with the people that I treasure most.

Some bread details from my lesson, you might ask?

Patrizia made it quite apparent that one of the biggest secrets to her fabulous bread is the oven that she had built for her. It took her several styles to figure out what works best and what creates the ultimate crust, fluffiness, and texture to the bread. So, pretty much, my new task is now to buy a bread oven, or build one with my hands.

Now that’s a joke. That’s like saying you’ll give me $100 to run a mile.

You might as well keep the money in your bank.

Her bread recipe uses motheryeast, which is a yeast that is made by combining water and flour and letting it ferment and act as yeast. Her recipe is as follows:

  • Motheryeast (amount depends on how long you have)
  • 500g flour 00 (which means fine flour)
  • 300g water (for a softer dough, use milk)
  • salt
You must melt the yeast in warm water by combining. Add flour as you are kneading. Knead for 5-10 minutes until really smooth and not sticky. Cover with damp cloth, let rise to double its size. (Overnight)
So pretty much, what she was trying to tell me (without saying), was that she can’t really tell me anything because she is so good at what she is doing that she doesn’t even know amounts.
Great. Now I REALLY need to come back.
I would seriously fly 3,000 miles just for that bread and olive oil laden with salt.
Not. Joking.
Patrizia uses this same dough for focaccia and pizza dough. However, for focaccia, use butter to grease the bottom of the pan (because olive oil is sticky). Push the dough in the pan with you fingers, add rosemary, sage, slices of tomatoes, basil, etc. Finish with olive oil and salt. Let rise in pan 1-2 hours (Or as long as it takes), not covered with a damp towel overnight. Bake until light golden brown.
If using for pizza dough, add olive oil to dough recipe.

So we were all smiling ear to ear. Jayme and I were in our pajamas, we had just learned how to make my favorite bread in the world, I was with my family, the fireplace was warm, and we were about to consume olive oil.

And Jayme got to drink wine.

And I got to pose with my bread.

And we got to eat bread, rosemary focaccia to be mindblowingly exact.

Like, what is this surreal reality that I am a part of?

We were then served our meal, which boasted of fresh produce from their garden and delicious fantasies prepared with whole ingredients. First was a marinated eggplant.


Marinated Peppers.


Some type of pepper, mushroom, eggplant, and olive oil dish.


Fresh marinated olives.

Homemade cold cuts with fennel and succulent fat.

Fresh pasta with tomatoes from their garden.

And the treasure of the night, my first Bistecca Fiorentina, a ridiculously famous Florentine stake that is cooked rare and screams of beefy loving.

And it did not disappoint. She let us in to the secret of how she prepared the amazing piece of meat.

Salt, pepper, steak.

“That’s it”, she said.

“Well, of course there is olive oil too! That goes without saying, ” she finished.

A local farm’s fresh pecorino, which had a fantastic flavor.

And for dessert, we were served a warm lemon pudding with cinnamon and soft snack cake dipping sticks.

Simple. Amazing. San Leo is my love.

And I LOVE staying warm on the heaters.

My face, at this point, was permanently stained with a smile because of the day’s events.

And so the only proper thing left to do was to take child-like photos and giggle the rest of the night with my family.

And pick the down-feathers from the comforter, which occupied several hours of our evening.

And yet again, our evening commenced with a dog-pile of relatives on one pull out couch, laughing, joking, and having heart to hearts. We finally retired to our respective beds and dreamed the night away, knowing that a carbolicious breakfast would greet us in the morning.

And the usual San Leo morning spread did not disappoint:  homemade bread, olive oils, honey, snack cakes, cereal, milk, phenomenal lemon tea, cappuccino, oh my!

And look at this fantastic honey comb, that guests were encouraged to enjoy!

I was so blessed to be able to share my love of rustic Tuscany with my mom, cousin, and aunt. The most incredible thing is that they LOVED it as well. It was so encouraging and so breathtakingly wonderful.

And despite the continued rain, our spirits were filled with joy and..well…dance moves.

And I got to see my chickens again :)

And was greeted by an array of freshly colored vegetables.

And was able to say goodbye to an incredible woman full of passion and love for her guests. Patrizia made me feel like one of her family and has made San Leo a place of the purest form of Tuscan joy.


Check out San Leo, as if my prior three posts were not enough.

Ciao for now!