Miami, Florida (PressExposure) September 18, 2009 -- I know 2009 may be tough for everyone, with the global economic meltdown and whatnot, but this year seems to be a particular challenge for me. In the course of a few months I managed to: receive a sizeable pay reduction at work, have trouble in paradise with the girlfriend, experience the untimely loss of a dear friend, and even a car crash. If anyone was in dire need of a vacation it was me. With two weeks of (mandatory!) vacation days I decided a trip to a far-away, serene destination was in order. The only requirements I set for myself are that the location be peaceful, have activities to do during the day, and be somewhat affordable.
After spinning the globe around for a day or two I had developed a short list of Kenya, Greece, and Italy. They are obviously very different places with unique vibes. As an animal lover, the call of the wild in East Africa was strong, but I decided a bit more pampering was in order. Greece was a final contender as well, but ruled out due the student riots occurring during my booking process. My mind was made up, off to Tuscany I go! Buon viaggio indeed.
I found a local trip provider that came highly referred by some friends (http://www.tuscanway.com) and passed along my info. When their salesman called to follow up I knew Tuscany was the place for me. In a heavy (but understandable) Italian accent he regaled me with stories of endless food, wine, and romance (more on that later) being enjoyed on the Tuscan landscape. I'm in. Everything he said came true, and even a bit more. After a bit of QA with Gregorio (thanks again!) I decided on taking their Villa Poggiarello trip [http://www.tuscanway.com/tuscany/cooking_courses/villa_poggiarello/].
This trip had me staying in a villa that manages to pull off being both modern and rustic in the same breath. Along the Mediterranean shore I slipped into my Tuscan persona, Leonardo, as I enjoyed wine tastings [http://www.tuscanway.com/tuscany/cooking_courses/wine_tasting.php], food courses [http://www.tuscanway.com/tuscany/cooking_courses/], and art tours. I even took a yoga class, which I have kept up with since my return back to the US. My wine memory comes courtesy of my sommelier, Romeo, when I asked where a particular glass came from. He let out a soulful laugh and pointed down. I was standing in the very vineyard. Food memories are just as fond, enjoying la cucina povera Toscana with the other guests as native Tuscans regaled us with endless stories of living life the Tuscan way. To the best of my new understanding, the Tuscan way of life involves treating yourself to endless indulgences in a setting where time moves at the perfect speed. During my third night there I went into town at night to enjoy a glass of wine in a local cafe, where I met Alessia, I will forever cherish our time together. We went on several dates during the rest of my stay, and she is coming stateside to visit this January. Most of the other guests were couples, so it was nice to have a partner for the rest of my trip.
In short, Tuscany was everything I was looking for in a vacation. I came back well rested and spiritually charged. Tuscany helped me get through a rough spot in my life and so I am forever grateful to Alessia, Gregorio, Romeo, and the folks at Tuscan Way who made the trip possible.
Ciao, Lenny Barnes