Everybody loves Raimondo

Let me take a moment to introduce you. Raimondo and his family own Torcibrencoli, a family vineyard and winery estate about 30 minutes outside Florence.

They take turns hosting the AirBnB Experience that we enjoyed on our last day in Italy. Once we found the bus station, we paid the fare and hopped on a very nice bus which took us to Greve, and from there we were driven to their estate.

The views were, well, see for yourself…

Olive trees in the background
Taking a stroll around the vineyard.
Tasting the Chianti Classico
Inside peek at the processing and storage facilities
Enjoying a moment of air conditioning
These lemons… you cannot understand
These are fun lawn ornaments, aren’t they?

As you can understand from these photos, the temptation to stay was real. I could have totally hidden in one of these barrels. When they found me a day or two later, I would have had the story all rehearsed.

“Oh hi! I must have gotten lost. Maybe I could stay and work in the vineyards in exchange for food and wine. I would be no trouble. I could just sleep on a stone floor somewhere. Or in a hammock outside, whatever, I am not that picky.”

Surely Raimondo would have been okay with that, right?

We definitely had a connection.

After all, I am a farm girl at heart, and I am no stranger to working in fields. Okay, vineyards, fields, same same. I’d be willing to learn about grapes and olives and lemons. I am quite teachable.

The only reason this didn’t happen is because there’s a grand baby coming, and I cannot be THAT far away from the little nugget. On my return visit to Italy, in a year or two, we can further discuss the details of my indentured servitude. Is it indentured servitude if it’s voluntary? No matter, I’m sure we could work something out.

There is a staggering amount of tradition and family pride in this beautiful country. It is astonishing that outsiders would be invited to their property, to eat their food, drink their wine and limoncello, and tour their facilities. Hospitality is a huge part of their culture, and we were the gracious recipients. Okay, yes, we paid for the tour. And maybe as a smaller producer, this has become a necessity for them, but still! It was absolutely the most wonderful way to spend an afternoon.

Our tour group. All 5 of these cuties were 21 and college students. They all hit it off, leaving Raimondo and I in each other’s company.
Pottery made by his grandmother, of course.
The REALLY good stuff. It was so delicious!

Another thing I learned is that having the name of Chianti Classico is a big deal. There are strict guidelines for production, as well as fees associated with this designation. I used to think that all wines were the same, but I have a greater respect and understanding now. They are not all the same, and I’m a little bit spoiled. Sorry, two buck chuck, I think I have to upgrade now.

Yes, you can purchase wine and olive oil directly from them. Yes, you can book your own tour with them should you be heading that way. Yes, you too can fantasize about running away to a vineyard in Tuscany with Raimondo…. Sorry, I digress.

Let’s just say I’m mentally preparing for my next trip, and savoring the memories of my first visit. Stay tuned for more musings about Italy.

Thanks for reading, until next time,
Sherri

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How not to spend an hour in Florence.

You know how to make God laugh? Tell her/him your plans. This is one of the best scenes in Evan Almighty. Plus Morgan Freeman plays a very dapper God, don’t you agree?

Photo courtesy of https://www.imdb.com.

I love making and executing a well thought plan. It’s a little neurotic, but not quite to the point where I’m seeking meds (ask me next week though). When the trip I had been dreaming of for years changed with take-off in less than 2 weeks, I scrambled. Luckily, the major components fell into place, such as, where to sleep for example. But the rest? Ah, the rest was figured out on the fly.

Not my favorite way to operate.

I was completely out of my comfort zone. Not only was I in a foreign country, I didn’t speak the language, and I didn’t really have a plan. And the ones I kind of had, did not exactly work out.

There are so many stories of adventures, left turns, missed trains and the like. I’m not sure what value it would hold for you, my sweet reader, but I know what it holds for me.

Lots and lots of lessons about letting go.

Control is just an illusion anyway, like holding onto running water.

Some of the most beautiful moments of this trip were totally unplanned. Some of the most frustrating moments of this trip taught me the biggest lessons.

Missing the Uffizi Gallery was not something I planned at all. In fact I spent money so that I would NOT miss this. But here’s the story, which now is funny, but at the time was most assuredly not.

Photo courtesy of Trip Advisor

We left Riomaggiore a little later than expected. I naively thought that we could get to Florence in just a couple of hours. We had pre-purchased tickets to the Uffize online for a 3:45pm entrance. By the time we made our 4th transfer of the day, we knew it would be close.

If we could just get to Florence, check in to our hotel, dump our luggage, we might just make it. Also, it was unbelievably hot and we had our share of cars lacking air conditioning. A shower was calling, but would risk doing without one if necessary.

Lesson #1. Pay attention to the train schedules, stops and maps.

The train came to a stop, but we did not see any signs. So we waited patiently for the train to resume. People got off, and more got on. The cleaning crew actually passed through with a cute little vacuum. After 30 minutes of sitting still, we came to accept that we were going to miss the museum.

Then much to our horror, the train began moving. Backwards.

We were going back – away from the city center. You know, the stop where we were supposed to have gotten off. And could have, like 30 minutes ago.

We ended up traveling back, getting off, going back around on the next train, and kicking ourselves the entire way. Had we realized where we were, we probably could have made it.

Lesson #2. Give yourself plenty of time to arrive.

The entrance lines for these major attractions are excruciatingly long, and there were no other available times to purchase online. Uffizi, you’ll have to wait until next time.

Um, no. Just no.

There were several times where Lesson #2 came into play. We learned as we went along. And isn’t that the hope? Not to avoid failure entirely, but to learn, and then perhaps we won’t have to repeat it.

Stay tuned for more lessons from Italy. Thanks for reading!
Sherri