Ciao again friends and family! Thanks for all your kind comments and emails – sorry I haven’t had a chance to respond to them but we’ve been starting our days at 8:30 in the morning and not returning home until after midnight, which leaves little time to share the amazing experiences I’ve had.
So I thought I’d start “from the very beginning – a very good place to start….” (for those of you who are not musical buffs – this is from “The Sound of Music” and I’m happy to report that all the girls are huge fans of all musicals and we’ve often had our own sing-a-longs! J Obviously a group of “soul sistas” you could say… and poor Clint and Averell just tolerate us!)
Sunday morning we were picked up by three Rotarians from Cecina, a small town south of Livorno to tour their part of
We left the marina to have lunch at a private beach club… because what else would you do after proscecco and crostini – but to eat another 4 course meal???? It was really nice and looked out onto the blue sea, dotted with white sailboats that complimented the white beach with blue sunchairs and umbrellas. And all set on the backdrop of a sky with billowy, white clouds everywhere – it was really beautiful and amazing. The only thing that could top it was the meal and company, and it certainly satisfied. The meal began with Antipasta: typical brushetta which includes bread with tomatoes that we all know, some fresh pate and a variety of meats and cheese. Then followed by the Primo course of pasta, and of course the Secondi course of grilled swordfish and lightly fried zucchini flowers, the third course of Frutta and then finished off with chocolate ice cream bonbons and of course their version of coffee, espresso – AMAZING! I’ve decided they need the espresso shot to keep them awake from such a long and filling meal – but man alive – that stuff is strong and potent!!!! I don’t care how many times I’ve had it, my face still cringes and my body shakes when I drink it.
I must say that my favorite part so far is the dining experience… and not because of the food. But this is the time when you can sit and talk and get to know the Italians, about their lives, their ideas and interests, their views on the world…. And they take the time to enjoy being there – in the moment. It really is so nice when you can have a conversation with someone and you are both stumbling through each other’s languages and there’s a common ground created… where the basis is laughter. The Italians have a tremendous sense of humor, which is why I probably enjoy them so much.
After lunch we toured the company and factory of the Cecian Rotary President, Giuseppe Piccirillo. He is the president of a valve company for the oil and gas industry and his clients include some of the largest companies in the world, for instance GE. All his engineers are required to speak at least four languages because they do so much business worldwide – the interesting thing is – he speaks none, not even a lick of English! So the tour was interesting to say the least, he’d speak fast and explain the materials – and look at us like we knew what he was talking about. Thank goodness for a Rotarian that was able to translate!
At this point it was about 3:00 pm and we started heading through the hills of
Winding down from the hills overlooking the green and gold countryside, we worked our way to the winery of Poggio Gagliardo and met the owner, Andre Sarbone, for a private tour. We were over an hour late and needless to say he was less than thrilled with us – especially on his Sunday. However, he graciously accommodated us and began the tour. He and his family have four wineries that produce 250,000 bottles of wine a year, both red and white as well as olive oil. Once the tour began and he realized we were really interested in learning about the process he warmed up to us… what can I say, the wino in me was thrilled! We saw the fermentation vats, the oak barrels, then went to see some of the vineyards. He harvests the chardonnay grapes first and then works his way to the cabernet sauvignon – the last to stay in the sun – which is why he named his wine, Utlimosole, the last in the sun! Once we finished the tour we were taken into the coolest Tuscan room with arched ceilings, wooden beams, tile floors and a beautiful harvest table all set for our tasting. WOOOO-HOOOO!!!! Bring on the vino!!!
Andrea had spoken Italian throughout the tour as we listened intently and relayed back to him in our broken, twangy Italiano replies that we “Capisco” understood. As the tasting started, he introduced the wines and what they were – speaking English!!!! We died laughing… told him he’d been holding out on us and then began the festivities of tasting his amazing wines – 5 of them! Once it was over we posed for pictures and the he presented us with our own bottle of wine to take with us – one that he only gives to gifts to family and friends. It’s Se Stante, named after a compass for sailors – to put you on the right path. A perfect gift to start our journey – one that I’m sure will leave me with a new pair of eyes to see the world.
Andrea was so enchanted with the “Bellas from
When we arrived back after the tour of the vineyard to meet the rest of the group it was getting to be sunset and I thought the day was over. Not quite yet, we then headed to the beautiful walled city of
What an amazing first day on this trip and know that the others will be similar too. Will update with the others soon, so please stay tuned. Miss you all and look forward to seeing ya soon!