BECAUSE IT IS Sunday and Sundays tend to be a bit slow in Europe, we thought we'd just hang around the house in the morning and plan to eat out for lunch. After a few minutes on the internet we settled on Chiusi, the Etruscan village about 12 km from here and decided on a restaurant in the old village called Resorante Zaira. It turned out Zaira was both typical and atypical in terms the authenticity of the food: typical in the sense that the food was fresh and heavy on olive oil and herbs (Kerri's mixed legumes were incredible); atypical in that you couldn't order what our kids consider 'normal' pasta dishes like lasagne, fettuccine, or spagehtti-Os. But Patrick finally decided on an agnolotti with cheese and walnut sauce while Julia and Henry had the four-cheese and truffle ravioli -- minus the truffles (yeah, I know!). Kerri went with legumes and a salad and I chose a beef dish served with olive oil and peppercorns (which, by the way, I thought were capers and found out they weren't when I put about 8 of them in my mouth at the same time.)
But the best part of the lunch: the quick tour of the 'downstairs' afterwords. When we were finished the waitress asked if we wanted to see the caves (plural!) where they stored over 20,000 bottles of regional wine -- including Brunelo, Chianti, and Carmignano. (I think the waiter was even trying to show off a bit by telling us they had over 5,000 bottles of Brunelo di Montalcino). We eagerly said yes to the invitation and descended a set of stone stairs and entered a labaryth-like set of about 6 or 7 deep caves, all of which where stacked with bottles of wine, each one with a distinct coating of dust. Like a good tourist, I took photos:
Of course, with all that wine in the basement, we ordered two bottles...of cold water.