Tag Archives: weekend

When it comes to Italian street food fairs, this is definitely a good one…

Apart from a few hours in the morning (dedicated to boring house stuff), I have basically spent my Sunday eating. Better said, tasting some delicious products from Tuscany and all over Italy at the Boccaccesca, a great street food fair organized in Certaldo (Firenze province) on October 7th, 8th and 9th. Unfortunately the weather has not been great on the two first days but today we have managed to get a few hours of beautiful sunshine (just before the afternoon storm), enjoying the open air stalls in both Certaldo Alto and Basso.

If you are planning to visit Tuscany next year about this time, it’s definitely worth to keep an eye on this food fair and put it on your agenda for a few good reasons:

  • It’s free.
  • It’s truly Italian and, even though there was a good number of tourists visiting, it has definitely got a very Italian feel and atmosphere.
  • Extremely reasonable prices in the great majority of the food stands (Eur 1 for a very decent glass of red wine is not bad…isn’t it?). If the price is not displayed, to avoid any unpleasant surprise always ask for the price (particularly on cheese and ham). Some hams can get up to Eur 90 per Kg so be prepared….!!
  • If you plan to take home some local Italian products, it’s a great opportunity to get a bit of everything and all of excellent quality.
  • You could almost eat for free since there is so much to taste around and the great majority of producers are interested in getting their products known. I’ve lost the count of how many food stalls I have tried today…

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That couldn’t be more Italian…
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This was delicious…expensive but delicious. 
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Caciocavallo Impiccato from Irpinia
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Not bad… 😉
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Truffle creams
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Always check the label and the truffle percentage!
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Not going to help you breath but definitely delicious! 🙂

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Worth getting a bit of this…Gorgonzola D.O.P. from Orsi e Fiori

 

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The Cotswolds: the very English answer to Tuscany

 

If there is a place in England that I particularly love, it is definitely the Cotswolds. Designated as one of the 46 AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty) in the United Kingdom, if you choose to visit you will soon understand why: lovely and charming villages, stunning rolling hills and beautiful countryside views, amazing local pubs with even more amazing food and, above all, that feeling of being in the true heart England, which is somewhat lost in many big towns/cities in the UK.

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Views near Stow on the Wold
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Countryside near Lower Slaughter
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Windrush

Where: The Cotswolds area is located in South Central England and it stretches from the south of Stratford upon Avon down to Bath, covering 5 counties (Wiltshire, Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire, Warwickshire and Worcestershire) over nearly 800 square miles.

See Cotswold Area of Outstanding Beauty Official website for a detailed map of the area.

How to visit: The best and easiest way to visit the region is undoubtedly by car, allowing you to make detours and longer stops according to your tastes. Some tourist spots are also linked by public transport but, as always, if you want to explore more, having your own means of transport would be the best bet. Of course, since walking in this beautiful area is a must, you should allow yourself enough time to explore the countryside near the most visited towns to get the real feel of the Cotswolds. Trails and paths are well posted and easy to follow, even for someone with no orienteering sense like me!

When to go: English weather is quite unpredictable by definition but a great moment to visit would be Spring/Summer, when you will definitely have more chances to enjoy the Cotswolds in the sun. The downside is that you will not be on your own, since plenty of other fellow tourists will have your same idea. If you prefer to avoid the crowds, choose the late part of Summer/early Autumn when the colours are great and you will be able to enjoy the area more peacefully. Even winter has its very own charm and a cozy gastro-pub with rooms may be the perfect solution. I have visited on several occasions and in one of them the weather was absolutely miserable but while you wait until it turns, you can always indulge in a rich pub lunch in one of its lovely towns!

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Chicken, ham and leeks pie….while waiting for the day to turn!

Which town to visit: Every town of the Cotswolds has its very own features and charm but if I have to choose a few I would definitely go for the followings:

  • Bourton-on-the-Water: the perfect town to start exploring the Cotswolds: don’t miss a stroll by the river and an afternoon tea in one of the cafes nearby. Once here, it’s also worth to visit Lower Slaughter and Upper Slaughter, both a short walk in the countryside from Bourton.
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Cooling off in Bourton-on-the-Water
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Lower Slaughter
  • Bibury: a charming English picture town! This extremely picturesque place may look familiar since it has been the setting for many UK films. It is very popular among tourists so do not expect a solitary stroll 🙂 but absolutely worth.
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Arlington Row in Bibury
  • Castle Combe: it will feel you have gone back in time in this small and very well preserved town that has also been called “The Prettiest Town in England”. Worth having a stroll in the grounds of the exclusive Manor House, a wonderful 5 star hotel in an absolute enchanting setting. Though choosing to sleep here may come out quite expensive, a stroll comes for free!
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Manor House, Castle Comb
  • Burford: probably one of the prettiest medieval towns in the Cotswolds with plenty of places to sleep, eat and drink. In summer it gets particularly lively and its high street extremely busy for being such a small town.
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A windy afternoon outside Burford Church

There are plenty more of course and they are all worth a visit: Stow-on-the-Wold, Moreton-in-Marsh, Windrush, Tetbury…..the list is long! 🙂 Just get in the car and get lost in this stunning corner of England.

Want a couple of suggestions on where to eat once in the area? Conde Nast Traveller and Time Out have some of the best.

I had already visited Tuscany before touring around the Cotswolds and in more than one occasion this wonderful corner of England reminded me of the central Italian region; they may not have the same glorious sunshine nor the ultra famous wines that Tuscany boasts but there are plenty of excellent locally source produce including delicious cheeses, meats, amazing artisan brews, delicious ice-creams…that paired with a stunning countryside scenery makes it really tough to prefer one or the other.

Why choose…? Visit both and I am sure you will love both! 🙂