I’ve been back for almost two months now and still have not finished writing about Italy. Honestly, I look with dread upon writing these last few entries because I have to be mentally prepared to return my brain back to everything that happened two months ago. It also doesn’t accurately portray how these events happened I’m sure and memories can get slightly fuzzy. But, it’s not hard for me to remember one of the two most defining moments I had on my trip; lunching with a tuscan family on their vineyard.
In between the two weeks of campers we had a good three or four days to relax and prepare for the next round of campers headed our way. On one of these days, the organization planned for all of the work staff (and this mangy photographer) to travel out into the tuscan country side for a tour of a vineyard and lunch with a family that worked the land. This wasn’t a touristy-featured-stop as if you were traveling with any one of the trillion european tour lines. No, these were friends of one the volunteers in Italy whom she had known for quite awhile. They opened up their beautiful house, food, and wine to us and greeted us with open arms and smiles. We traveled through some of the most beautiful countryside I had seen in Italy since being there and drove our bus up some of the most lovely tuscan roads and through treelines. I totally felt like I was in the Godfather. (I actually just watched the Godfather for the first time two weeks ago and felt like Al Pacino and DeNiro were covering some of the places I had stopped.)
The owner of the vineyard, who’s name I’ve long forgotten… I wanna say Giuseppe, gave us a wonderful tour of the land that provides for his family. He showed us the olive trees and that grape vines and gave us wonderful spiritual parallels for everything that I have long since forgotten. His broken english was inadvertently humorous but was quickly shadowed by his genuine spirit. Italians seem to be genuine across the board it seems. They don’t really try to act like they are something that they are not. If you meet a slick backed don juan then he will act like one because he is one and he knows it. He won’t try to be something else. I wonder if anything I am writing at this moment makes sense. I hereby promise to only write about my future travels if I am actually traveling.
Anyways, long story short, we had a great tour of the grounds by Giuseppe (Gosh I hope that’s right, I know how many tuscan vintners read this blog) and his american son-in-law, Phil. I remember phil because he wrote his name and email on a piece of paper and offered to let me live and eat there in exchange for physical labor. I also talked to phil and Giuseppe’s son, who’s name really escapes me, about possibly redesigning their wine label, which would be awesome. I will keep you updated if for some reason I bolt from real life in st. louis to life on a vineyard in tuscany literally down the street from Sting. Hunter found a quick friend in Phil’s son and the two ran around the villa raising hell and scaring the chickens all the while screaming in their little boy high-pitched screams that I loved at first, found humorous after a few days, and then hated by the end of the trip. The food was, how can I put it, real. It came from their trees and from the ground around them. It tasted like earth. Not mud but just straight lively goodness that Trader Joe had not touched. Good solid mediterranean food; blocks of mozzarella, tomatoes, whole grain bread, chicken, pasta, olives, oils, and plenty of wine. I made more than a few trips to the pitchers of red wine that were whispering for me. I may have had a few cups too many because I felt great. I ended up buying five bottles of wine and some olive oil and talking excitedly with Giuseppe’s son and Phil while the rest of group had already been on the bus for a bit. I jumped on to the bus, stowed my hooch and promptly… passed out. Along with everyone else.
Only to awaken what seemed like 2 days later (in reality 2 hours) in San Gimniano with a nasty headache and craving any sort of water on my dry lips. The last thing I wanted to do was walk around this tourist trap. Actually, a very nice, out of the way tourist trap that kind of feels like touristry and authenticity at it’s core but nonetheless americans. San G was a very beautiful town that deserved more snooping than I had the ability to offer at this time. My boy Chauta (one of the leaders) and I kind just stumbled around with minimal conversation from point of interest to point of interest in the grand walled city. Eventually, I didn’t care anymore and sat my cheeks on the well in the main square. I was delighting myself and some bavarian kids by attaching my gum to a stick and pulling out euros from the well through the security gate that covered it. I got about 80 eu out and passed around before we all decided to throw everyones wishes back into the well a la Goonies. Plus, my stick broke. So we sat there and just took in the sights. And of course, my 63rd wife just happened to traipse up to the well that I was standing at and look down inside. I kind of looked at her and she looked at me and it was magic, except for the puny looking mulato guy that was with her holding her hand. A semblance of familiarity crossed my consciousness but I couldn’t understand why and so as they walked away from the well I let out a little “ciao bella” only slightly out of ear shot.
Turns out it was that desperate housewives chick; Eva Longoria and her b-baller husband Tony Parks – who must have some mad skills on the court because he was not that tall at all. I didn’t find this out until later after they walked back through and a gaggle of american kids were semi-hounding them in a polite american-in-europe sort of way. Right.
Then we were back on the bus hurtling down winding hills and me stuck in sort of disney hell as everyone started singing the soundtrack to every hot ham disney movie ever made. I laid in the center aisle and hunter began running over me and stealing everybody’s shoes. I cried a little.