There is no Wi-Fi at Ponterotto Café

Ponte Rotto Cafe

It’s the quintessential Tuscan café. You’ve never seen anything quite like it. It sits where the road curves over an old stone bridge and Tractors and toy Fiat Pandas are the only traffic. There are wood umbrellas and square hedges and thin cypress pines. There’s a gravel path and a painted plaster sign with a coat of arms and a shield. It is called Ponterotto which means broken bridge, presumably because it has been on more than one occasion in the past.

Inside, it is cool and cheerful and there is a big display with the best salumi of the valley and a big enameled slicer and a man with big hands to slice it. There is bar menu where house wine is eighty-cents a glass and one-Euro-twenty per liter if you put it in your own bottle.

On the wall is a menu of bread by the pound and the mirrored bar shelf holds every kind of bitter liqueur you could want.

And it being Italy, there is a long, silver espresso machine steaming and hissing as cappuccino’s slide down the counter to their proper owners.

It is the perfect place to have a coffee, to sit, undisturbed and think ; to ponder, brainstorm and come up with ideas. It inspires creativity and it would be the envy of every café hopping hipster in London or New York: Good pastry, good coffee, cheap. It would be the ultimate remote office for

Tuscany, Italy ~ The Thing About Cooking for Italians

Sunset aperitivo picnic in Tuscany

The thing about these Italians is that they like things the way they like them. I’ve been here for a month now, and I am galvanized that I have never seen a people so determined that their way is the way -  the right way -  the only way! Whether it’s their gnocchi burro e salvia, their borlotti beans and tropea, their asparagus frittata, their tagliarini with artichokes (a very common topic).

I have fallen flat in my attempts to impress with food here more than any other place in all of my food travels.

 I’ve been to Italy many times. I’ve eaten in Italy (a lot) and most of my cooking education came from Italy (thank you Enrica!), and yet, here, at the Villa, with a new set of Italians, somehow, all that I have eaten and seen and learned and done is rendered nearly worthless. I am again a babe in the woods. For these Italians, there is The Way to cook risotto with garden fresh zucchini. There is The Way to make a ragu. The Way… is their way, which is to say their mother’s or grandmother’s way,  which is why your way will not be right now matter which dusty, obscure cookbook or television celebrity chef taught you and how many songs of praise you’ve received before.

I came here fresh off a solid year of experimenting with the exotic;  learning the notes and colours of the world’s great pantries and spice cabinets – the dry spices of Morocco, the smokey, cured goodness of Spain, the pungent, spicy, fish-saucey language of Thailand and Vietnam, the heat and vibrancy of the Levant (a fellow Mediterranean cuisine no?)  – and each time I’ve tried to infuse even a glimmer of this complex flavor knowledge that veritably springs forth from the corners of my culinarilly saturated mind, I am rebuffed, shrugged, dismissed.

30 Days in Tuscany ~ My Daily Video Updates

A Food Pilgrimage trip to Tuscany

Watch em’ here

You have probably already figured it out by now. You may even have a favourite.

For my entire stay here at Villa Viottelone in the lovely Tuscan countryside, I will be posting short – less than 1-minute – videos of what I get up to. Some cooking, some eating, some planting food and harvesting food… and more than a few sunset aperitivos (I’ll try not to bore you).

Here’s the link to my Food Pilgrimage Youtube Channel, or of course, just hear about my updates via Twitter or Facebook.


And let me know if you want to see something specific, cook something specific or eat something specific. Tweet using the hashtag #30DaysinTuscany

Buon apetito!