Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Sensational Spring in Tuscany

Cycling inTuscany is intoxicating at any time of year, but springtime is especially enticing. Covering so much territory while breathing in the perfume of spring flowers and watching the Tuscan earth bursting with such energy is a heady experience. Today, guiding a bike tour, these were just a few of the Tuscan treasures that we saw along the road...

Wild, elegant iris flanking the roads.  Beholding them in their natural environment is a gift!

Sangiovese grapes just starting to pop from the life is so invigorating to see!  What does this year's harvest have in store?

We were only 2k into our ride when we were greeted by a small flock of sheep!  Pecorino in the making!

And oh!  The olive trees are frizzante with bubbly baby olives growing from their leaves...

Stupefied by the allure of spring popping around us, we had to take a pause and headed to Le Corti winery for a fabulous lunch, wine/olive oil tasting and a tour of the wine cellars and olive press...

After which we saw Massimo picking the most luscious bing cherries from his enormous front yard tree in Chiesanuova!  As we gazed in awe from the road, he invited us in through the front gate, climbed up the ladder and brought us a basket full of cherries.  He wouldn't let me leave without giving me his telephone number, so cute!  I pass by this house several times a week and never noticed the tree, because it was never so ripe with fruit.  Massimo and I are now friends for life!

Artichokes budding like roses!

Happy clients!  See the sheep in the background?

Peaches in the foreground, Florence in the distance

Another sensational day on the road.  I will never tire of this!


Monday, May 14, 2012

Eleven Years of the Giro d'Italia

It was more than 40 years ago at the age of 15 that I was first exposed to the world of bicycle racing. During the summer of '69 I had the great fortune to study in Grenoble, France, where I watched the Tour de France as it descended Alpe d'Huez.  Not only did Eddy Merckx take the stage but it was the year that he took his first yellow jersey. Since then, it's been in my blood.

Years later I would come to love the Giro d'Italia even more. Eleven years ago, in 2001, I escaped New York City for a serious bike tour in Italy that followed the last 5 stages of the Giro d'Italia.  Not only did it solidify my love for cycling and for Italy, but it eerily turned out to be a pre-vision of my future.  Here is the article I wrote 11 years ago which was published in the New York Cycle Club monthly newsletter. I dug it up today and read it for the first time in many years.  Following the 2001 Giro d'Italia.

Three months later, all my dreams including this one, came to an instant halt by the event of Sept 11.  Thrust from my home in the shadow of the World Trade Center, I was in survival mode for the next 5 years, struggling to regain my sanity and the few pieces of my life that still remained.  Of the material things, I was lucky to salvage a few pieces of furniture, a plant, and the documents on my hard drive, which included the article above.

Well, this dream as well as many other ones came true.  I never would have imagined that today, I would be living in Tuscany, watching the Giro d'Italia pass through my own backyard.  I never dreamed that I would discover that I've been an Italian citizen all my life and never knew it.  Italy's been calling me for a long, long time.

Tomorrow, I'll be joining thousands of cyclists from all over Tuscany to follow Stage 11 of the Giro d'Italia.  Finding the article that I wrote 11 years ago made me think of how I have not only survived the aftermath of September 11th, but how I have thrived and have become a stronger person with a newly founded spirit.  A spirit that has found the environment where it thrives the best.  And how grateful I am to be alive and living out my dream in Italy.