The Vicarious Travel Journal, Part Two:
Impressions of Italy From My Pal Kelly
Last fall, we brought you some impressions of China, told through the eyes of my friend Chris, a writer/editor for the consulting firm McKinsey & Co. As the fall season kicks off once more, my friend Kelly sent this wonderful account of her trip to Italy, while she's still there. With her permission, I'm sharing it here (I took the liberty of adding a couple of explanatory links). Should she be so inclined to share a wrap-up account at the end of her trip, we'll publish that as well. Buongiorno! After several plane delays, and a myriad of comical events, we finally arrived in Pisa nearly a week ago, and it still feels as though I've lost a day somewhere. From Pisa, Susan and I traveled south by train to the Cinque Terre for a bite of lunch, a view of the beautiful Italians (both men and women) and a little sunbathing along Italy's Riviera. The color of the Mediterranean sea is deep, deep blue, like Sapphire Blue (sorry, I know that sounds cheesy, but it's the best way to describe the gorgeous, rich, color). To give you an idea of geography, the Cinque Terre is located south of the French Riviera. From Pisa, we drove to our Tuscan villa. The villa is a stone, 500 year-old, recently updated, tiled roof, estate; surrounded with grapes and olive trees. The villa is located in a rural area between Florence and Rome, or more specifically San Donato / Castellini Chianti / Podere Erica.
The villa is enclosed with a very high electronic gate because of the wild boar that live in the area and have been known to eat the estate red grapes (bordeaux). No grapes = no vino = no boars allowed at Podere Erica. We each have an electric opener (like a garage opener) when we leave and return from the villa. Wine making is a very serious business here. ;-) Each morning before I set off for yet another Italian adventure, I sit on the veranda drinking my coffee and take in the panoramic view of the rolling Tuscan hillside south/west of the villa. It doesn't seem real to me, when compared to my concrete jungle back home. To me it looks more like a painting done in colors of greens and browns with a spattering of terra cotta. It's as if someone took all the colors out of the Crayola Crayon box and used only olive, kelly, asparagus, forest, fern, brown and rust.
Suffice to say, I find it difficult to describe to you the beauty of this countryside without sounding a bit cheesy (formaggio). When we return from a long day of sight seeing and driving along the winding Italian roads (this could be an entire chapter in of itself) I find myself looking up into the sky in search of the constellations. You can actually see the stars and some of the planets from here, because there is little to no light pollution. The moon seems so close, that you could pluck it from the sky and bite into it like a piece of fruit.
Again, I'm sorry for the flowery verse here, but it's truly spectacular. I've already written a small novella here to you, so I'm signing off - another adventure is calling my name today - I'm writing lots of great thoughts in my travel journal and taking in everything. I hope all is well with you at home.