What do all of the above pictures have in common? You guessed it. I’m smiling. Hard not to when you’re in Tuscany for seven straight days of sunny weather.
I confess I have been struggling to meet my personal goal of writing a blog every month. Last year I only managed to post seven blogs, and this one is only the second this year. But when I looked at my pictures and saw the enormous grin on my face in every one, I figured this blog would practically write itself. After all, a picture is worth a thousand words, so I won’t need to add too many more.
My trip to Italy all began with a phone call from my friend, Janet Adams Strong early this year. She told me she and her husband, Bruce, were renting a house in Vecchiano and she was calling to invite me to visit them there. Does it get better than that? And let me tell you, better hosts than Janet and Bruce don’t exist on the planet. From the moment I arrived, we embarked on an Italian holiday I will long remember.
Oh, by the way, on this trip I learned the secret to beating jet lag. First, after being picked up at the airport, enjoy driving around the countryside admiring the stands of cypress trees, vineyards and olive groves. Stop at a fruit stand along the way. Visit a supermarket. When you reach your destination, have a drink. Talk. Take a walk around town, checking out the architecture, the local church and the cemetery. (The cemeteries are really something to see.) Upon completion of your walk, build a fire and grill food outside. Talk some more and, of course, drink some more. That should get you to nightfall. When you absolutely can’t keep your eyes open anymore, go to bed. When you wake up, you will be ready to roll — no jet lag. I swear by this method.
During my seven-day stay, we visited: Lucca, known for its well-preserved Renaissance walls and its cobblestone streets; Pisa, where I posed for the must-have tourist shot as I took my turn holding up the tower; San Gimignano and its majestic skyline of medieval towers encircled by 13th century walls; and Livorno, a port city with a breath-taking waterside promenade with checkerboard paving.
Perhaps my favorite excursion was our visit to the family-owned vineyard Frattoria San Vito. Matteo, the owner, took us on a tour of the vineyard and olive grove, followed by a delightful bit of wine-tasting on the back patio. The weather was perfect, the wine was superb, the bruschetta delicious and the olive oil to die for. I think the first picture up top picture captures the moment perfectly. We particularly enjoyed Matteo’s reference to one of their red wines as their “all-day wine.” So much better a description than “everyday wine,” don’t you think?
Through all of these adventures, my dear friend, Janet drove through the narrow streets and maneuvered the multi-pronged roundabouts without trepidation. She’s a force to be reckoned with behind the wheel of a four-in-the floor automobile. Thank you, Janet, my fearless friend.
I had been to Italy when I got out of college, touring the great cities of Rome, Venice, Florence and Milan. I have wonderful memories of that trip, and now, I’m so glad I had the chance to experience la dolce vita in the countryside of Tuscany. Because Elton John said it better than I could, I leave you with his words on Italy:
“I love places that have an incredible history. I love the Italian way of life. I love the food. I love the people. I love the attitudes of Italians.” -– Elton John