Sunday, November 2, 2008

A Weekend of New Friends, Great Food, Liza and Cycling in Tuscany

Friday This weekend began in Mantignano, a small borgo just south of Florence, at the home (which was a former convent) of Filippo's uncle, who is a cacciatore, where we feasted with his family on cinghiale, one of my favorite Tuscan specialities. Of course, it is wild boar season. For me, it was a special occasion, but for Filippo's family, not so unusual. There I met his sister and husband, his best friend and wife, his father, uncle, aunt, a teacher-friend from London and his wife e due bambini! I brought a beautiful bottle of Montalcino. We dined on a robust, piping hot, slightly piccante minestra made from osso di cinghiale, rigatoni, spinaci, fajioli, e un pocchino di pepperoncino. This was followed by cinghiale roasted in the huge kitchen firepit, cinghiale sausages, potatoes, bread, tomatoes, and later, due forme di peccorini, and finally, dolce. By the time we finished eating, it was past midnight! Ciao to the next day's giro! I became so relaxed after a few glasses of wine and lively conversation, that I didn't even realize that I was actually speaking credible Italian....and everyone was actually listening....and we conversed comfortably...a delightful and encouraging evening.

Saturday Last night, Liza Minelli sent chills up my spine, where, at the Teatro Comunale, she delivered a rivetting performance that brought down the house. An Italian audience is all you really's entertainment in itself. But on top of that, Liza belted out a performance that rocked me out of my seat. I am here in Florence for another life experience...hopefully one that will forever be lasting.

Sunday Another day in cycling heaven, with Leif, Rebecca and Rhiannon, this time, to Volognano. The climb reminded me that I've been indulging too much on irresitable food and wine. I am gaining weight, and as much as it bothers me, I know it's good for my soul.....(the food, that is). Maybe time to start playing hookey from school, to ride more during the week. We took a left turn in Bagno di Ripoli, on a road laced with vineyards that are turning golden from the crisp autumn air. Every twist and turn of this tranquil country road offered unique views of hills adorned with olive groves and castles. As we pedaled along, we were rewarded by the vision of nuns wearing old world habits.... and a couple of horses approaching us. On the way home, I crossed the Ponte Vecchio and with the Arno on my right, I had flashbacks of countless parallel experiences from another place and time....cycling back home along the Hudson River from the George Washington Bridge from an all-day ride to Battery Park City. Only 6 years ago, but seems like light-years away. Can it be true? Is this the Ponte Vecchio and not the GW Bridge? Is this the Arno and not the Hudson? Is that San Frediano across the river and not Jersey City? Pinch pinch.