RECOMMENDATIONS
2004
Several of these places have been previously recommended in the 2001 and 2003 sections
but--because we like our own recommendations-we return. If we go back and things have
changed, we tell you so.  Also, remember the caveat that what we report--good or bad--is just our
experience. Another night, another waiter, another host and the picture might be a different one.
SOUTHERN
TUSCANY
Restaurants
Montepulciano Osteria Acquacheta (Cucina Tipica Toscana):  This is a delightful, fun
place. The tables are not only close together, but several of them are "shared" tables with
other guests--new friends. It is a small, convivial atmosphere with the owner, chef, waiter,
busboy being friendly and brusque simultaneously. The food is outstanding and
sometimes unique. It is quite casual and so very comfortable.  Among us we had pork and
potatoes, ravioli stuffed with cabbage with white truffle on top, gnocci and pici with garlic
sauce. The bruschetta and prosciutto and melon were very good starters. Via del Teatro,
22,  t:  0578-758-443  We made reservations which is probably wise. Closed Tuesday.
Montepulciano  Diva and Maceo:  We do not recommend this ristorante. In the past it has
received very high reviews from many sources; however, we were exceedingly unhappy with
our meal and the service here. The food was cold, tough, poorly prepared. The antipasti was
served with the meal rather than as a starter. Ken's order was totally forgotten--we had to
reorder it so I was long through with my meal before his even came.  Later we were told that
there had been a new owner (in Italy this usually translates into new chef) within the past year.
So--the past reviews were no longer on target. Closed Wednesdays. Via di Gracciano nel Corso
90, just inside the northern gate.
This is the table!
Montepulciano Ristorante Le Logge del Vignola:  Again we had a delightful meal at this
small intimate restaurant. The owners/chefs are self-taught but they certainly had good
teachers as their dishes are creative and excellently prepared and presented. There is
also a good wine list. As I did in 2003, I recommend asking for the table on the upper level
by the window--best in the house. There are only about 8-10 tables here and so
reservations are usually important. The ristorante is open for lunch as well as dinner. Via
delle Erbe, 6  T: 39-0578 717290   e-mail:
 leloggedelvignola@virgilio.it    website:  Le Logge
del Vignola
Montepulciano  Ristorante Ai Quattro Vento (Cucina Toscana): In 2001, I highly recommended
this ristorante--then in 2003, I was disappointed with it. But--this year it is back in our good
graces. The one drawback being that since it opened it has become very popular and because
it is small, it is pretty crowded and rather noisy--not in the same type of way that Acquachetta
is. Tables are much too close together for comfort. The food is well-prepared and the owner is
nice but tends to be stressed and rushing. They really need a little larger place. Reservations
are important here unless you get there very early. It is located on the Piazza Grande t:
0578-71-72-31  closed Thursday
Marc and Casey Outside La Porta
Monticchiello  La Porta:  This is one of our most favorite places--I guess because, for us,
it signals the beginning of the glorious days we will have in the area. This is always our
first night meal-no matter how jet-lagged we are.  Daria, the owner, is warm, welcoming, a
new friend--I doubt she really remembers us from year-to-year but she acts as if she
does which, of course, makes us feel special. Pici is the speciality but there are many
other choices--all good. This is another of those places that you just feel good being in. Be
sure to go early or stay late to explore charming, medieval Monticchiello.  Monticchiello is
a fee km. outside of Montepulciano (watch for signs). La Porta is right inside the portal.
T: 0578.755163  Closed Thursday.
Bagno Vignoni  Osteria del Leone (Ristorante e Negozio): Osteria del Leone is another favorite
because 1.) it is our friend's vision  2.) the food is outstanding  3.) Bagno Vignoni is a very
atmospheric and historical destination 4.) it is fun and there is a lovely patio dining area
(weather permitting.) Bagno Vignoni is an ancient Roman spa town and way station which even
today has some therapeutic offerings. The osteria makes a good stopping place or deliberate
destination for either lunch or dinner. You will enjoy it here. Be sure to tell our friends Nico and
Edgar hello from Ken and Jane. While there you will also want to visit there negozio (shop)
across the street where you will find wonderful kitchen and cooking merchandise. Piazza del
Moretto, Bagno Vignoni  t. 39-0577 887300                  
 e-mail  Osterwebsite: Il Leone
Orvieto  Sette Consoli: (before my friends berate me--Orvieto is not in Tuscany but in
wonderful Umbria- but not far from Montepulciano). This is a lovely restaurant set in the
corner of a small piazza off a main thoroughfare.  It is fine dining--both at lunch and dinner so
be prepared for a commensurate check. (It is one of those places that brings a little foot
stool for your handbag--if that helps.)  The food is wonderful--some different touches and
ideas. The atmosphere is quiet and refined; the tableware and setting impeccable; the
service attentive and unobtrusive. When you are tired from just seeing and walking, this is
one of those perfect places to rejuvenate yourself and separate from the crowd. I
recommend this restaurant if you enjoy good food and don't mind paying the price for it. They
were more than gracious about preparing a special, ordinary pasta for Casey--which we
certainly appreciated.  Piazza Sant' Angelo 1/a   T 0763-343911  e-mail:
Sette Consoli   
Closed Sunday and January11-March 31
Pama Ristorante and Pizzeria--Radicofani
Radicofani Il Pama Ristorante Bar and Pizzeria: Unfortunately, I can't give much more than the
name of this place where we had such an enjoyable interlude. It is somewhere along the road
going up to the fortress in Radicofani. As you go up, it is on the left hand side. There is no doubt
that this is a locals place--not needing tourist business. Inside it is busy, hectic, somewhat
boisterous and you begin to feel as if you, too, belong with the celebrating boys' futbol team,
etc. And---the food was fresh and good, along with the biggest glass bottle of coke we've seen
in a long while.  Look for this sign along the road. It is not actually in Radicofani.
                                           Via G. Marconi 3 Radicofani    0578-55919
Abbazia di Monte Oliveto Maggiore  Ristorante La Torre Monte Oliveto Maggiore: If you
visit the abbey--which you should do--then plan on having a very nice lunch in the
ristorante. We so enjoyed it there and the food was too good. The desserts looked
sublime--but, we all resisted--regretting it later in the day when we were hungry once
again. You can read more about our experience here in the commentary part of this
report which talks about the Abbey. T:  39-0577/707022   Closed Tuesday
Castellina in Chianti  Trattoria La Torre:  If you have read my 2001 recommendations, you know
I was not kind to La Torre; however, I now need to give credit where due. We had a very good
lunch meal there this trip. We had driven to Castellina for the day just to check out a couple of
things and treat ourselves to the best gelato in all of Italy (only to get there when they were
closed). We were hungry, it was lunch time and so we thought to be fair we should give this
acclaimed trattoria another chance. We were glad that we did.  La Torre has good, basic,
simple food and a lot of game--rabbit, boar, fowl, etc. We truly enjoyed the food and
atmosphere this time and found the staff delightful. So--I take back the bad things I said before.
 Piazza Umberto 1 , Phone: 0577.740 236
Of course, we ate at many more
places--some clearly as good as the ones
I have included in this listing--but, if one
were to write about every good ristorante
in Italy, the entire web could not hold them
and I would become an old (or older)
woman and that would be terrible!
ACCOMMODATIONS
We stayed at just two places--our favorite place to stay in Italy or just about
anywhere--
Sant' Antonio Country Resort in Montepulciano and Hotel Bianco Leon on
San Gimignano. You can check out these two links for information. We enjoyed the
Hotel Bianco and the location was perfect. We had one large deluxe room which
was spacious and nice and one smaller room for Casey and Marc which worked
quite well. Both overlooked the cistern. Staff was nice and helpful.
Sicily Recommendations
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