It had been almost five years since I had last been to Europe. My sister was studying abroad then, and we went to visit her in Italy. Fast forward to this year, and I discovered it is a much longer flight from California than the east coast. But once we arrived, I was immediately seduced by the sights, sounds and smells of the city.
The plan for our ten days was to take us from Florence, to Cinque Terre, into Tuscany and then onto Rome. And though all of the adventures we had planed were wonderful, for me, the most memorable moments were those that were completely unexpected. Ending up in a tiny-tented “bar” in an attempt to stay dry (and have TV access) during the men’s world championship road race, with the families of pro riders Michael Albasini and Mathias Frank. Meeting an Australian event producer during our tapas sunset cruise on her way to the Venice Biennale. Driving up into the tiniest hilltop town to spend two luxurious nights at Villa Sassolini. Happening on the festival for L’Eroica, a multi-day event and ride on bicycles built pre-1987 and in apparel that is even older. Stumbling into Da Gino e Antonio and being served course after course of the best Italian food by Gino himself (who, I should add, spoke not a word of English). Buying leather goods from the man who hand stamps and crafts each piece in his shop. And then wandering into the artisanal gelato shop San Crispino a few doors down, my favorite of the trip.
I was sad to leave the beautiful country of Italia for home, but very happy to see the peanut and sleep in our own bed, at least for two nights. I leave tomorrow morning for the Big Island to see the SMASHFEST family and cheer on some amazing ladies as they take on the best of the best. Aloha!