"The secret of Italian cuisine, I am finding, is freshness. If something comes from the garden outside the house, that's best (herbs, olive oil, hazelnuts, cherries, figs, and some berries are grown at Toscana Mia). [...] The only processed things Italians eat seem to be olives, capers, and wine; they'd rather eat cat than open a can." ~ from "Mangiare Bene" by Laura Fraser in the American Airline Magazine

To set the stage
 for todays viewing pleasure...
click above to listen to the angelic voice of Italian tenor,
Andrea Bocelli...
while scrolling through our unforgettable days in the kitchen...
Toscana Mia
located just south of Florence,

or Firenze as the Italians say.

Our days were spent absorbing years of cooking experience

 from Simonetta and Paola,
and one day had a visiting chef on hand as well.

As 'the foodie' and I were staying in the three generational home...
we were joined each day with other visitors to the class.

Part of the learning experience was to enjoy the fruits of our labor

so each afternoon our group was encouraged to enjoy the outdoors
as our hostesses prepared the table for our meal to be savored.

When I think back on these meals in la cucina Italiana,
at the long table filled with guests from across the globe and our host family, 
my heart is warmed all over again.
If only life could be that simple.

Of course it took many hands, hours to prepare,
but learning and laughter threw a blanket over any feeling of labor.
The ingredients were unadorned...
but they were fresh and had been blended together following recipes passed down through generations.

After the meal,
although a nap was tempting...

we would explore the village...
and follow paths to unknown destinations...
gasping as beauty greeted us... 
 at every turn.

Happy Thursday.

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