Well, we're in Florence now, so again I'm behind a day. First, I'll take care of yesterday, then I'll post about our ride today, cool? Cool.
After breakfast in the hotel, we left Ravenna and were treated to more back roads and great weather. We rode past cherry orchards, vineyards, kiwi orchards, corn fields…and more crops we couldn't identify.
Oh yeah, here's a map. See that last part there? Those are some hills!
And here are pics from the ride:
Eurobike stickers say "turn right."
But I kinda want to go left!
Once we got to Faenza, we stopped and had some lunch at a busy pizzeria just inside town. SUCH good pizza! We ordered two small pizzas — one tartufo (bufala, mushrooms, truffle oil) and an "Italia" special (bresaola, raddicchio, parmesan, bufala, tomatoes…not baked, more like a salad on top of a thin crust). Both were delicious!
Riding through Faenza:
We stopped for a quick caffè before heading on out of town:
Back on the road:
We arrived in Brisighella and checked into our hotel (Hotel La Meridiana). We took showers, did a little work, and then headed out (again on the bikes! crazy!) up the hilly roads into the town of Brisighella.
Brisighella is the smallest town we stayed in all week (about 7,700 residents). You can read some about the town here in this article we found online when we were doing some research.
Brisighella is surrounded by (backed by?) three tall craggy chalk spires, topped with (1) the Sanctuary of Monticino (religious), (2) the 14th-century Castle Manfrediana (military), and (3) the 13th-century clock tower, the Torre dell’Orologio (civic) that strikes the quarter hour all day long. You can see the clock tower in the two photos below:
The famous Via Degli Asini translates to "Street of the Asses", and is so named because donkeys once used it traveling to and from the chalk quarry up above.
The via is covered now, and houses business and apartments (that first open door was a dentist's office):
Via Degli Asini, from the street below:
We sat and had a glass of prosecco and people-watched for a bit. We also stopped in the tourism office and grabbed a map. The helpful woman inside told us all about the famous Brisighella olive oil (seriously, see same article referenced above re: olive oil), and then she led us down a few doors to a shop where we were greeted by Daniela. "Her English is very good, you can ask her anything" the tourist info woman told us, but then Daniela never spoke one word of English to us, which was fine…just funny in response to such an introduction. Daniela let us taste two different olive oils from Brisighella.
Pieve Tho was the first oil we tried, made from olives from several different Brisighella growing areas. (The three are Nostrana di Brisighella, Ghiacciola, and Orfana.)
The second oil we tasted was the Brisighello DOP (our favorite, and the one we bought):
"The trademark "Brisighello" is related to a specific region with peculiar features, different from the surrounding areas, and mainly from an unique variety of olive fruit, the "Nostrana of Brisighella".
The extra virgin olive oil "Brisighello" DOP can only be obtained by the above mentioned variety of fruit, and its percentage cannot be less than ninety percent. Small amounts of other fruits coming from local olive trees can also be added." (from Brisighella.org)
We also bought one jar of tartufata that we will probably eat while we're in our apartment in Florence over the next two weeks.
Our bikes and the street, taken from the Via Degli Asini (and that's the spot on the left where we hung out with our prosecco for an hour or so before dinner):
This was the view from our little prosecco spot, where we had a very nice dreadlocked server and got to listento a reggae soundtrack 🙂
We did a little research about where to have dinner and, well, that article I linked to above really convinced us to try La Cavallina.
We are so glad we did! We arrived early (7:30pm) and decided to sit outside. We had this view:
The owner came out and explained the whole menu to us slowly in Italian but with hand gestures (shellfish, this big, round…a scallop!) and a few English words. It was so charming. We ordered a bottle of a fantastic local wine he recommended, Iaia (so fantastic we bought another bottle to take with us on to Florence…also, it's biodynamically produced — bonus!):
The owner helped us decide on some dishes, telling us he had an extra antipasti not on the menu that he wanted us to order — a formaggio di capra (goat cheese) that he made himself (it was garnished with an olive relish, thin green beans, and shaved parmesan, and it was incredible!):
We also had a beef tartare with shaved truffles, salad, and toasted bread (battuta al coltello di razza Romagnola con tartufo di stagione e pane brioches)…
… a local pasta dish (passatelli asciutti su fonduta diu formaggio e tartufo), a veal dish, and a fish dish (filetto di orata in crosta di erbe aromatiche su crema di sedano rapa e tartar di olive) which was an herb-encrusted sea bream with a celery puree and an olive "salsa".
They brought us a "surprise" dessert, a light pannacotta with strawberries, and two glasses of grappa. Everything was incredible, but the special goat cheese dish was our declared winner.
We rode our bikes back to the hotel from the restaurant (9:30pm-ish) with our nice bright headlights and taillights, carrying in my handlebar bag (1) a bottle of Iaia Sangiovese from Brisighella, a bottle of Brisighella olive oil, and a jar of tartufata. The moon was bright and almost full, and the three craggy pillars were lit up and shining tall above the town.
Buonanotte Brisighella! Domani…Firenze!