Chapter 2: One Last Supper 

But can you imagine eating a fresco right from a wall, what that would do to your cheeks and to your chin, to your nose and your teeth, if you gnawed at the cave until the soft rock filled your mouth like a granitey dollop of mashed potatoes? Inside the cave where the two dead teenagers were found, the peach of the frescoes – angel heads, bishop arms, and the dwarfish hands of cherubim – mixed with blood from the two teenagers' faces and mouths. Then the tufa walls of the cave sucked back the paint like a sponge. The colors left on the walls were astonishing. Especially the reds: bloody and passionate.
Read more about Sasso, or buy the book.


Castle Country

Since the 12th century, the lush terrain of Alto Adige, a 3,000-square-mile stretch of the Tyrol in Italy's farthest north, has been studded with a king's ransom of castles, manor houses and monasteries. There are more than 350 of them today, overhanging rocky cliffs or lying, half-concealed, in primordial pine forests. Dozens are open to daytime visitors; some are ruins while others have become museums, hotels and restaurants.
Read more about Italy: The Best Travel Writing from The New York Times, or buy the book.


Meat: The Pleasures of Flesh

A man in Wyoming calls his lover in New York. It's been 11 days since he has seen her, and it feels long and terrible because their relationship is new. "It's midnight here," he says, "so I know I must be waking you. But I have to tell you about my dinner. Are you there? This is important." He cradles the receiver to his cheek, sitting on the hotel bed with his socked feet rubbing against carpet. "We went to dinner, and I need you to know about the prime rib I ate. It was swimming in a gully of juice. I mean, sopping and red, and..." He catches his breath now, recalling the bites and the texture, the moments of flesh. "It could only make me think of you," he tells her. "I was the only one at the table without boots or a cowboy hat," he starts laughing. "I was supposed to be talking about raising capital, and about getting it into Cheyenne fast. But I was thinking of you between each swallow, and all I could think of was your body."
Read more about Best Food Writing 2007, or buy the book.