After endless debates on guest lists, seating charts and whether most people like lamb (they say they don’t but they really do), our wonderful wedding in Greece was over. Next was our Italian honeymoon and I brought along a present to play with:
Not having used medium format film before, I was nervous. We started off in Northern Tuscany where we stayed in a beautiful place in the mountains.
Close to the property was the city of Prato. Having driven through its outskirts, I didn’t expect much. There were a lot of modern, concrete buildings with little character along a series of busy roundabouts. Once through the outskirts though, the city revealed an unbelievable combination of architecture, winding streets and lack of tourists. Its boring facade worked as a deterrent to the busloads of selfie-stick waving travelers, leaving a true working city that is a delight to explore.
Although we were in the northern part of Tuscany, we wanted to revisit the more classic, hilly and chock-full-of-vineyards part of it that we fell in love with the first time we visited. We jumped in the car and explored the countryside on our way to and from Montalcino, the birthplace of Brunello wine.
Montalcino itself was very pretty and home to the best pasta I have ever had (thick noodles, lots of mushrooms). We were there on a mission to buy some Brunello though, so we soon headed to the Máté winery nearby.
Uniquely, the winery was started in the 90s by a Canadian couple that bought an estate that was in shambles. With a lot of sweat and love they turned it into a beautiful place to visit and have a couple glasses of wine. Of course, this prompted many ongoing daydreams of moving to the Tuscan countryside one day.
The other city we explored in Northern Tuscany was Pistoia, a picturesque but more touristy place that I was vaguely familiar with because of the Asterix and Obelix comic books.
We got there in the early afternoon, so the city was sleepy. We wandered through its winding streets and tried our first shakerato, a tasty iced interpretation of espresso served in a mini martini glass. Since we wanted to stay until the city came more alive, I took my time to focus on the people inhabiting the city (and Julia, lots of photos of Julia).
I’m lucky to have married someone who is willing to drive an hour into the mountains to find a truly local restaurant. We were often rewarded with a delicious meal at the end of windy and rocky roads, but sometimes we found a closed restaurant and old ladies peering at us through curtains. Even so, the scenery was always beautiful and at one restaurant we were offered “protection” by a self-proclaimed mafioso.
After Tuscany we dropped off our abused rental car and took the train to Rome. A number of people we spoke with before our trip told us they didn’t enjoy Rome and I personally don’t understand why. Although we had both visited before, the Eternal City had so much more to give. Yes it’s touristy, but the beauty of its historical buildings and fantastic food never fail to amaze me.
Both of us had been to the big sites before, so we mostly explored the streets. However, there’s a building that I’ll always go back to because of the layers upon layers of history: The Pantheon.
Rome is best explored on foot, and any direction you go in will reveal more beautiful architecture and landmarks. My favorite area to walk around was Trastevere, with its peeling paint and picturesque alleyways. I heard it described as the Brooklyn of Rome (maybe because of the hipsters?), but I have to say Brooklyn is lacking in comparison.
With a last saunter through the city, our trip came to an end. Having spent over two weeks away from home and, more importantly, our pooch, we were both ready to head back. We did so full of memories (and pasta).
Thank you as always for reading! If you’re interested in some prints reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org. All my photos are limited to runs of five prints, so don’t be shy.
- Stefanos Metaxas