Keeping The Pace in Toscana, Italy
This picture hangs in the tasting room of Castella di Monterinaldi, a winery in Chianti Classico, Italy. The loose translation is, “Those in a hurry, slow down!” What better motto to live by at any age, but in particular for those of us who are empty-nesters?
Castella di Monterinaldi.
All over Italy, it is apparent that most people live this way. Businesses close for 2 hours for lunch. Markets close at sunset regardless of how many shoppers are still browsing the aisles and when you sit down for a meal, it is at least a 2-hour experience. I can’t help but think that since food takes time to grow, ripen, harvest and prepare, then why are we so often finished with a meal in less than 15 minutes? In Italy, food, wine, vistas and conversation are meant to be savored. Slowing down is healthy…respectful… and if gratitude could be organic, it would grow in the form of a slower pace.
One example of this came in the form of our most generous, entertaining and educated tour guide, Sergio. He picked us up at 9 am for a Chianti Classico scenic drive and wine tasting tour, with the plan of having us back to our Agriturismo by sunset… or so. The drive was through very beautiful country, with twists and turns around farm after farm causing two of our group to become woozy with motion sickness. His concern was genuine and he quickly made a stop so that we could all stretch our “sea” legs.
This stop was not on the agenda, but you would never know it by his demeanor. Sergio is in the black jacket with the huge smile on his face.
And this was part of the view from our rest stop.
And once we were on the road again, Sergio drove us through a movie set. No, not really, but it sure seemed too pretty to be real.
He offered to take our picture and actually took several without concern about the time. In case you are wondering, he wasn’t getting paid by the hour.
Our next stop was in a tiny little village with a market, a church and an art gallery.
This guy was security for the art gallery. His name was Gustavo and he made sure we took no photos of the art. Right next door where we stopped in for a cappuccino, we met a very nice family and the owner of the café.
Lee Lee was the boss. The senora behind the counter offered to sell Lee Lee to us for $1,000,000. While she would have been the CUTEST of all souvenirs, Mr. Cozi would not even barter. I even offered to stay in her place, so he could have her. No deal.
Lunch was a delightful stop in another small village called Panzano, where we dined al fresco surrounded by beautiful landscapes, old buildings, and family. It was a perfect day and I highly recommend Cantinetta Sassolini if you are touring the region. The food and wine tasted as if it had just been picked from the vine.
Sergio took a nap in the van during lunch. I wanted to take one after lunch, but we were off to tour a winery.
This day was just barrels of fun.
Once our tour came to an end, we headed back through the countryside to the Agriturismo Petrognano. But, not without one more stop by Sergio. He heard us talking about needing a few grocery items and stopped to allow us to get them on the way back. He was the epitome of “chi ha furia, faccia piano.”
If you are in a hurry…. slow down. Especially when in Toscano.