Linda

During our trip to Italy in October, while enjoying a glass of wine in the late afternoon sun with a view of hillsides covered in vineyards and olive trees, it struck me that I was having the perfect day in Tuscany. Friends always ask, “Where are you going and what are you planning to do?” It’s a little embarrassing to admit, but we love going back to Greve in Chianti and settling in to our place in a small apartment in the family winery and agritourismo, Il Santo.

Italy is a diverse country with spectacular cities, museums and popular sights. But without guilt, George and I know Greve is a little piece of heaven where we can relax and have a wonderful time just living the slow life in Italy.

Here’s how I spent my perfect day:

After a leisurely morning of coffee and reading time, I whipped up a breakfast of olives, cheese and focaccia bread to be enjoyed out on the terrace. It is fall, and the sun is just starting to warm us up after a chilly night. The walnut tree in the yard has once again dropped more walnuts, and it feels decadent as we eat them with breakfast.

Our big decision of the day is where we will take a walk. We have several places we really enjoy and each comes with a view out over the hills and valleys. One of the big advantages of coming in the fall is the cooler weather. Those hills just don’t seem so bad when it isn’t in the 90s.

We return for an easy lunch of salami and cheese, tomatoes and basil in focaccia bread fresh from the bakery. After relaxing into the afternoon, we often take another walk which usually ends up at the gelateria in the square.

This particular evening, we dine in Lucarelli at Osterio Panzanelle. The restaurant opens at 7:30 p.m., and when we went last year in the summer, we were the only ones dining at that hour. People eat very late here, and it is not unusual to see families with little ones coming in just as we are leaving. But shortening days must be the reason that on this night, there are a lot of diners waiting for the restaurant to open.

This place came highly recommended by Alessandro, who noted it is a favorite of local eateries. My meal began with an involtini of eggplant filled with ricotta and baked with capers and tomatoes. It was topped with the tastiest cheese. George and I quickly made plans to return for lunch when we’d each order this dish. A pasta entree of short noodles and sausage accompanied with house Rosso wine made a great dinner.

We chatted with a couple from Canada who also made plans to return before they had to leave in three days, the lady exclaiming she would have the exact same dinner all over again. If that is not a testament to wonderful food, I don’t know what is.

So as you see, we’re not your normal tourists. A simple day is simply perfect here.

George

The stress of travel is immediately relieved as we drive up the hill to Il Santo. Our favorite restaurants are all within walking distance or a short drive, with fabulous food, reasonable prices and lots of leisurely time to enjoy the experience. Tables do not turn over here.

This time we ate in each of our three favorites places twice. I cut back on my favorite dish, pappardelle with wild boar, only having it five times.

At one restaurant after dinner, I told Linda, “I’m full, but not overly stuffed.”

“You know why?” she said. “No meat!”

Truth be told, I most enjoy the wonderful meals Linda prepares in our apartment, where we eat outside on the deck with a stunning view of rolling hills planted with grapes and olives, and stone houses remotely scattered across the hillsides. Everything we eat is fresh, and she harvests things right from the lawn.

We visited in October this year and were thrilled to be able to watch the grapes being harvested and processed, starting down the trail of those wonderful wines.

We feel like we’re a member of Allessandro’s family and were excited to learn that, two days before our arrival, he and his wife had a new baby boy.

While we were there, Allessandro got a call from a Maine couple who visited here earlier this year, at our suggestion, and wanted to make a reservation for next year.

I love our daily walks with stunning scenery, and the fun of visiting the village shops, purchasing wine here, veggies there, meat in another amazing market. And of course, our pasta from Domenico Zito in his Pasta D’Autore shop, where he goes out back and cuts the fresh pasta the way you want it. The different types of pasta are extraordinary, each with its own texture: pici, pappardelle, tagliatelle, gnocchi and ravioli.

On previous visits, we have toured many of the ancient walled towns and stayed in several of them. We had ambitious plans to drive to several places this trip, but once we settled in to Greve, well, we settled in.

Visit George’s website — georgesmithmaine.com — for book reviews, outdoor news and all Travelin’ Maine(rs) columns, found listed by town in the “Best of Maine” section.