Doctor's Review: Medicine on the Move

October 23, 2017

The owner Doretta servers Dr Syposz' brother.

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Where to eat when in... Tuscany

Two FMs take a nail-biting drive through the hills of Arrezzo to reach an authentic eatery

Sometimes half the thrill of eating out is getting there. This was the case on our last day in Tuscany, in a villa outside Anghiari. It had been a reunion of three couples: My husband Ben's brother and sister along with their spouses. Ben adores driving windy roads as much as eating good Italian food.

We chose to go for lunch at Vecchia Osteria La Pergola in the village of Tavarnelle. It is recommended in An Adventure in Tuscany, a whimsical guidebook by Giusepppe Dini and Canadian artist Dawn Angela Seeley, "Doretta the owner and her daughter Francesca are very proud not to have state-of-the art equipment, but instead cook in a sandstone fireplace with only the best produce from local farmers."

Using an ordnance survey map, Ben chose the most direct route to Tavernelle rather than driving via Anghiari. On this map, it was difficult to differentiate country roads from cart tracks and footpaths. He led the way in our hired Lancia, while the other two couples followed in a second rental car.

The route was terrifying. We drove to the top of the hill, then over the top and straight down. We seemed to be hurtling towards a farmhouse. Ben managed to stop and I showed the startled farmer our map. He slanted his hand almost vertically down, much alarming me and the passengers in the other car. The track was indeed steep, narrow, windy and rocky, and there was no way to see what was around each corner. It was such a relief to reach the valley where the route was unpaved and tortuous, but at least flat.

We were rewarded at La Pergola with a fabulous meal, dishes that we shared all round and Doretta the owner and her daughter Francesca beamed as they served us. After antipasto, we had the best ravioli I have ever tasted — it was stuffed with sage and cheese — and tagliatelle with porcini mushrooms.

Then came duck and guinea fowl in a rich sauce with sides of fries, beabs and salad. Maybe because of the roller-coaster approach, none of us had wine, but we drank plenty of San Pellgrino and we finished with espresso, having no room for their highly praised desserts. Luckily, the driving after such a splendid meal was easy and smooth, straight into Arezzo for some sightseeing.

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