Certaldo, Italy – October 11th to 13th 2013
Initial Thoughts: The Tuscan countryside was beautiful beyond my wildest expectations. The 700 year old monastery turned B&B where we stayed was enchanting and filled with charm. It had been in the same family for generations and over the years had served as a winery, refuge, farm, and home. Upon our arrival we walked from room to room amazed at the family heirlooms, oil paintings and family portraits. As we walked the grounds, peered up at the quintessentially Tuscan Cyprus trees, and gazed over the rolling hills it suddenly dawned on us that we were truly standing under the Tuscan sun. We couldn’t help uttering ‘This is so beautiful’ countless times. It would have been annoying if it wasn’t so true. I felt incredibly lucky to have met my new friend/travel companion as her positive energy and optimize we’re infectious. She made me appreciate just how fortunate we were to be in that moment experiencing such wonder.
Best Moment: One gloriously sunny and warm afternoon, we went for a walk in the rolling, green hills of Tuscany. We passed vineyards, olive groves, sunflower fields and Italian men hard at work. A lazily windy path led us to a walled hilltop city where the startling blue sky contrasted beautifully with the ancient red brick. We drank local wine while watching the sunset over the countryside below. Swaying with the lightness that a shared bottle of chianti can bring, we stocked up on food and returned to the huge, rustic kitchen in our villa. With some new found friend we cooked a dinner of risotto, tiramisu and of course, more wine. We laughed, we shared, we talked of our dreams. It was my 28th birthday and it was perfect.
Take Away: Certaldo taught me to embrace unexpected adventure. I had only met my travel parter two days before but when she suggested an excursion to the Tuscan countryside, I couldn’t say no. When our roommates at the hostel in Florence heard of our impromptu plans, they cautioned us that we might have a bad experience and encouraged us instead to sign up for a one day guided winery tour. I almost fell prey to their anxiety and would have missed out one of the highlights of my trip. I learned to trust my gut and go with the unknown.