Saturday, August 2, 2014

taste of tuscany part 2

The vans pulled over to a little gravel area on the side of the windy road that took us up high into the Tuscan hills. We thought our guide was kidding when he said that we had arrived, at Gianni's house. 

The rain had stopped, the sunset views were incredible, and I was ready for wine. I was pretty excited to meet Gianni..could this be the "hilarious old Italian" from my list? We were about to see.

We strolled up to Gianni's house, with an amazing terrace all set, and expecting guests for dinner. We met Gianni one by one and I could hardly contain my excitement. When it was my turn, Gianni took my hand and I told him my name. He greeted me like family, and I felt at home. He barely spoke English but it didn't matter. Gianni was so welcoming! 

We admired the gorgeous views, and sat down. We started with antipasti and what would turn out later to be, tons of wine. Gianni went into his kitchen to make spaghetti with pomodoro sauce and asked how hungry we were. Most everyone said very hungry. This would mean we were getting a lot of pasta.

While we waited, we chatted..and since the rain had stopped, a glorious, out-of-a-movie rainbow appeared. It had to be a sign. 'Twas going to be a good night.

The sunset was so fantastic, I was grateful for the storm that washed us out in Siena just an hour earlier.

Cue Gianni with the large pot of spaghetti! He served us our pasta, (I was first and I think he was a little overzealous even when I said "basta" that it was enough, and stop!)and made us laugh.

When we all had our food, Gianni proposed a toast, and sang a little ditty that went something like this..

He walked around, grating fresh parmesan cheese, and pouring more wine. I was having a great time with the group, but Gianni just topped it all off. The language was a non issue, and he was just really funny and genuine, joking with all of us. He had the whole table laughing many times throughout dinner. I knew that he was my old hilarious Italian, and I must take a selfie with him. More wine please!

Everyone was finishing up their meal, simple but so delicious. I on the other hand was struggling to finish thanks to Gianni's heavy pasta scooping hand. I knew it would be rude if I didn't finish everything on my plate, and Gianni confirmed this by giving me a nudge and pointing to my plate. It may have been slow, but I finished every last piece of spaghetti there. A few of us cheered. Gianni clapped.

After a few glasses of wine I had the courage to ask Gianni to take a picture. The guide from our van helped me ask to take a picture and I said I would like to take a "selfie." He knew. He responded, "Coffee, then selfie." I nodded of course, and stretched out my selfie taking arm.


Selfie with an old hilarious Italian, CHECK!

I believe this also takes care of drink a bottle of wine with a winemaker as well,(since we were drinking his wine, grappa, and limoncello) but I'll have to check with my list judges first..

Unfortunately it was time to say goodbye to Gianni, although I did tell him I was going to move in after I was done at camp. I was sad to leave, but had such a great evening with my old hilarious Italian. 

I wish I could remember at what point an Italian flag was decided to be wrapped around me..

Back in the vans to head back to Florence. We all planned to meet and continue our drinkfest at a bar. I had mentioned a few things about my blog throughout the day, and THE LIST to a few people. But the van ride back is where things really started to take action. My fellow van mates (including our guide) demanded to hear the list out loud. I read it off, exclaiming that a "one night stand would probably never happen" to the return of "No! You have to, it will be so liberating!" 

The guide helped us translate the quote from THE LIST "Hi my name is Lauren, my boobs are small.." and we laughed at all the Italian words for "boobs," our favorite being "melones." Which are clearly not mine. There were loads of ideas being yelled out about how to tackle each challenge. This group was determined to check off as many things as they could in one night with me. I felt inspired..I could do this! 

Most of all, I had become tight throughout the day with my Australian friend K, who reminded me so much of one of my long time bff's. Literally, I felt like I was having a conversation with my old friend, they were so alike. K took it upon herself to get this list done. In one night. I knew that wouldn't happen but I was happy for any assistance and support to get even one more thing checked off. Her exact words were, "Tuck your balls in and just do it." Let the tucking commence.

We found a packed bar down the street from our drop off point, and K stopped in the first cafe she saw to ask two men if they had a Vespa because I wanted to kiss them..on said Vespa. Naturally, I ran away. I was going to have to at least approve of the Vespa man! K reminded me with her wise words.."you can meet the love of your life on a Vespa, they are expensive scooters, so if you make out with someone on a Vespa, then one day you could be on a yacht." Made perfect sense.

At the bar we scored a large table and K and I ventured to the bathroom. All the way back she asked "Vespa?" to any guy we passed. 

We stopped at the bar to order some beers and lo- the bartender..K and I looked at each other. We looked back at him. He was blonde! 

K asked, "Excuse me, but are you Italian?" He said, "Yes." 

I pointed to my camera and said "I need a photo with you." That was all the explanation he needed, and waved us back behind the bar.

Picture with a blonde Italian? CHECK!

We announced our triumph back at the table and the group cheered. Now they all wanted the Vespa to happen that night. But first, we drink more. We sat and talked, hung out for another hour or so and laughed. Then the massive amounts of spaghetti, drinks, and all the activia yogurts and supplements I'd been taking all week started to catch up with me. My stomach was not happy. I knew I had to leave, and I was angry with my stomach. Alas, the vespa would have to wait for another evening. I had to make a quick exit, not fully able to swap information with if you're reading this from that group and we didn't swap e-mails, etc, shoot me an e-mail through the blog, so we can stay in touch! I had such a great time on this wine tour with amazing people and a new found inspiration to tackle this list...

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