24/05/2012 at 12:58 - Something Different
This was our 2nd day in Livorno, and we decided to give sightseeing a break, and instead opted to do a leisurely tour of food, wine and cheese. After being met at the pier promptly by Maurizio, we headed to Pisa first thing in the morning for a brief visit, in order to avoid the big crowds (job well done). Maurizio also took a couple of group photos for us. After snapping pictures to our hearts' content, we made our way to Chianti. It is a delightful charming little town with a few cafes, grocery stores where the locals shop, and the ever present souvenir shops. There is a bit butcher's shop that is worth a visit - the stinky smell might be offensive to some, but it was like a meat museum, with all sorts of meats in different seasonings, packed in paper, tins, plastics, stored in the fridge or just hanging from the ceiling - very interesting This was a very brief stop, mostly to stretch our legs and a bathroom break. Before heading on to the main feature of the day, lunch at Stefania's cooking school, we stopped at another walled village, which can be toured in about 2 minutes for the reasonably fit, to 10 minutes for seniors. Stefania's cooking school is housed in a very old stone building, and according to Stefania - a charming lady indeed, it was part of a fortress many many years ago. Now, it is a quaint home/cooking school. Cooking lessons can be booked in advance, and if multiple lessons are desired, a guest room is available for rent. The cost of the lunch that day was 30 Euro. After a leisurely lunch, we headed to an artisan cheese maker, where we were shown how cheese is made (no active production on the day of our visit) - we just toured the farm where the goats are kept, facility where the goats are milked, and a peek from the outside the main work area (off limits for sanitary reasons), then to the actual cheese tasting. After a full lunch just 30 minutes later, cheese tasting with bread and wine proved too much for us, and had we known this is an extra 20 Euros/person, we would have opted out. However, Maurizio was able to negotiate a slightly lower price of 15 Euro/person. After having spent thousands for the cruise, the additional 15 Euro is not going to kill the bank, but it is something worth clarifying beforehand. All in all, it was a very pleasant easy day, trying something new and different with an easy going group of cruisers.