If not now, when?

One American woman. Twenty acres and a 1650 farmhouse in Tuscany. Random introspection and hilarity, depending on the day.

07 July 2005

Sono una guida!

Eeek! I’m official. Sorta. Today was my ‘coming out’ party: my first day working on a real tour with Il Cavaliere. Actually- it was perfect timing… there was a couple who wanted a day tour of Chianti, Fratello Guido wasn’t able to do it and Il Cavaliere doesn’t speak enough English to go out on his own… plus it was going to places I needed to pre-tour before our September event, so I accompanied him and played translator. He is always so amazingly patient, but I was proud of how well I did. Of course, it didn’t hurt that I’ve brushed up a bit with some good chatty tourist worthy stories of Italian culture ... It’s the little things that make it easier!

As always, tour days start early. I left the house at 6:30 am to meet Il Cavaliere at the exit to the autostrada at 7:45. We picked the couple up at 9:00 at their hotel. Lovely people – New Yorkers – Clara and Michael. Stopped for a photo at the overlook for the villa where Michelangelo supposedly painted Mona Lisa. Proceeded to piazza in Greve, where I learned that Amerigo Vespucci and Giovanni Verrazzano (of the NY bridge) were actually both from Chianti – apparently exploration is in the blood here? (Ridiculous I have to come all this way to learn about two men key to the early days of the US!) After that, a wine tasting with Leandro Alessi at Cennatoio, a wonderful tiny winery tucked into the Panzano hillsides, that makes delicious wines (a few of them are available in the states!) Leandro himself guided us through, explaining the full tasting of his wines in endearing broken English. I had mentioned that morning to Il Cavaliere that I needed to buy some wine to take as gifts back to hosts in the states -- when we were tasting, he asked me for my order, which he had packaged and waiting hidden in the back of the car when we returned. He quietly whispered ‘we pay different prices’ -- aaah, of course! Yet another perk to the barter economy system here.

We went to lunch in Volpaia – an ancient village with a restaurant and a winery The castle in this town was built in about the year 1000!!! It was here – sitting beneath a tree in the restaurant, overlooking the gorgeous vista of vineyards and rolling chianti hills – that we heard from the owner of the restaurant about the London bombings. A very strange feeling to be so far away from everything, yet so connected to world events. An odd trepidation washed over me as I realized I would be flying internationally from Rome the next day -- I brushed that off with the Italian philosophy, che sera' sera'.

After lunch at Volpaia and a quick tour, we stopped at the ceramics store, dropped off Clara and Michael and pointed them in the right direction for dinner, and headed back to pick up my car. Although it doesn’t sound like much, it was a long day – and by the time I got on the road, it was very late; nearly 5:30 pm, and I called to make my apologies and headed rushing off down the autostrada to make it to my dinner engagement with Sparky & Tortola Artista & SHMBO.


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