(For all pictures, click on the image to see full screen view.)

While traveling south through the Lunigiana valley and the Apennine Mountains on our way to Tuscany, it was beautiful to see the changing topography from what had been flat farmland.  Along the way, we stopped to visit the picturesque medieval town of Pontremoli.  A local guide led us on an interesting walking tour through the narrow cobblestone streets of this quaint town believed to have been first settled around 1000 BC.

Pontremoli hosts a book festival each year, and these book-styled benches honor regional authors.
I take notice of cute or unusual dogs when I travel, and this one was most definitely unusual! It’s a Spanish hunting dog, and a sweet one at that!

Following the tour, we had some free time to enjoy the local market in the town square.  One of the local specialties for sale was Testaroli, a regional pasta made from egg-free dough that looks more like a tortilla than pasta.

We loved the pecorino cheese, a hard cheese made from sheep’s milk.

At our next stop, Il Testarolo, we watched how testaroli was made.  Gratziatia has been in business for 38 years, rising at 4:30 am, seven days per week to make 3-400 testaroli each day.  She and her husband sell to local restaurants, and each one sells for about $1.90.

After the demonstration, Gratziatia closed up shop for the day to serve us lunch on the patio of their home/ business kitchen.  Everything was made from scratch, including the wine, olive oil made from homegrown olives, and delicious Italian dishes made from her testaroli.  Even the fresh strawberries were homegrown.  Pastries are something not high on my favorite foods list, but I thought I should at least be polite and try some of Gratziatia’s special dessert.  It was love at first bite!

We bid Gratziatia a heartfelt Grazie and Arrivederci, and then continued south to Lucca, where we would be spending the next three nights.  (On this tour, we were at each hotel for three nights, which was a perfect amount of time to settle in, do handwash, and enjoy each place before moving on.  Thankfully, Overseas Adventure Travel land tours are not in the style of the whirlwind tour in the 1969 comedy, “If It’s Tuesday, It Must Be Belgium.”

Next up:  Lovely Lucca

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