Sunday, October 3, 2010

Indian Summer Weekend

Mother nature surprised us this weekend with unseasonably warm weather, giving us another shot at summer riding. My group and I enjoyed lunch and a winery tour at Villa Le Corti . The gardens were in full splendor. We spent the night in Panzano at Villa Boscorotundo, a cozy restored villa set among the hills and vineyards of Chianti.

Adding to the excitement of the weekend was the opportunity to see portions of the Italian retro-cycling event L'Eroica, a nostalgic race celebrating the heros of Italian cycling. This race, which is the Italian equivalent of Paris-Rubais (gravel roads and all) takes place in the heart of Chianti and attracts participants from all over the world. Race rules require the use of pre-1987 vintage race bikes with downtube shifters and toe clips and all participants wear retro cycling attire. It is a flashback in time.

Panzano's piazza was buzzing with cyclists and spectators, wine and cheese merchants distributing free samples, and the Sunday market was alive and busy as usual. Passing through Panzano is never complete without stopping in to see the world famous butcher, Dario Cecchini offering a welcoming assortment of samples of his salamis, crostinis and wine and watching him passionately carving gigantic cuts of Bistecca Fiorentina. Sometimes while leading these tours I cannot figure out whether I'm a client or a tour leader.....I have to resist taking photos most of the time, because I am on "the job", but sometimes I sneak one in.

We stopped in Greve, where an artisnal fair was taking place, with sculptors chipping away at pietra serena, women crocheting curtains and doilies, artisans making silver jewelry and artists painting scenes of the Tuscan countryside. After our climb to Spedaluzzo we lunched at Da Padellina in Strada and rode back through Impruneta to end a perfect weekend tour.

It is hard to part with my groups after sharing such memorable moments together. Sometimes they tell me their life secrets while sharing conversation in the saddle. We always promise to keep in touch and we take each other's e-mail addresses. But then life goes on, people return to their real lives, and I live on as a part of their precious memories of Italy.

Even though each client is gone just as fast as they came, each one contributes something to my soul and helps me to grow and learn and understand more about life and to deepen my appreciation and compassion for diverse people from all walks of life.