This morning is glorious as the muppet in power decides we get to Sleep in! (We all follow muppet #3 around and do whatever she tells us-and we pretend it’s super annoying- but truth be known-one time she took a nap in the afternoon without telling us what to do while she was away and we all just stood there afraid, starving and cold, following each other around in circles muttering about what Nicole would want us to do next and wether we had the lighting in the room correct-another thing she regulates.) So yes, sleeping in! We don’t set an alarm and just wake up when we wake up. Which for me is 7:15am, and for most everyone else is 8am or so. The four original muppets (OM’s) meet at the muppet lounge (we’ve decided that the Tuscany version of the muppet bar has more of a lounge-y feel. There are chairs, leisurely exhausted muppets, and no afternoon drinks-only evening)-and then take our coffees down to the pool. Gonzo and Camilla are still in bed, clearly they need their rest. Yesterday was a long day of travel.
The plan this morning is to go into San G for some shopping and sightseeing. Chris makes mom and Dad breakfast and off we go by about 10am.
San G is stunning. A medieval hill top town that we can actually see from our apartment. Encircled by 13th-century walls, the stone town centers on Piazza della Cisterna, a triangular square lined with medieval houses. It boasts several medieval towers (7 I believe) that stand high above the town and Create a stunning skyline. Although in the middle of summer it can be very crowded with tourists, we’ve always visited during May or October-and the tourist season is either not yet begun, or just finishing up. So we find it to be mainly ours and the locals. You walk under a huge archway to get Onto the main ancient street and take a nice sloped walk to the town center-smelling pizza, wine and bread the entire way.
We make our way in and out of shops and buy trinkets, purses and leather. I love that first walk every time. Italy has a way of making you feel like everything became frozen when you left last-and came back to life when you visited again. I guess because the structures can’t change? Nothing is ever updated or rebuilt, repainted or refurbished. We see the same familiar shop owners-the spunky little woman that owns our favorite leather shop-and the cranky woman who mans the grocery store check out. They all look the same- maybe that’s where my feeling of being at my best in Italy comes from. You feel like your the same “you” from the last visit. That all the stresses and heartaches and anxiety’s of the past years didn’t happen-your still Karen from 2012-and Nicole from 2010. You’re as frozen in time as it is-no repainting or rebuilding needed.
We shop like this for a few hours, meandering up and down the cobblestone streets. Chris and I sharing an unsanctioned piece of pizza (don’t tell muppet #3-it’s pathetic. We sneak it like we’re stealing booze from our parents liquor cabinet! Looking around and giggling and passing the contraband pizza back and forth-then we feel guilty and confess. She’s not happy-but I think she’s impressed with our chutzpah-she makes us eat panty snickers bars and tells us never to do it again).
We decide to get pizza to go and make our way home for lunch. As we are leaving town I decide that I should make some pasta salad before bed tonight. We are planing a picnic for tomorrow and we have a ton of little odds and ends of leftover veggies-Perfect pasta salad ingredients. All we need is the pasta. I don’t want to walk all the way to the grocery store-so I decide to just pop into a tourist shop along the way back to the car and pick up a bag of dry pasta-it will cost a little more as it will be packaged for gifts in nice see-through bags with beautiful labels-but it will work just fine.
This is where I make my mistake.
I grab the first package I see of small multicolored pasta. I’m in a hurry so I purchase it and run out to meet Nicole on a bench where we will wait for gary to bring over the bus for us. And I pull the pasta out of the bag to show her. And drop it back in the bag like it’s actually HOT. I am now getting a good look at the pasta I quickly purchased. Y’all- I have accidentally bought-for my parents to eat-during a family picnic-in Tuscany……Penis shaped pasta. I wish I was kidding. I’m not. Phallic symbols in 5 colors are staring at me from the bag. I begin to laugh and can’t get the words out to Nicole-I’m literally crossing my legs so I don’t pee my pants and I pass her the peter pasta. She is confused for a few minutes and then focuses on the bag (no pun intended). And by the time gary pulls up we are both standing there, tears running down our faces, legs crossed-creating a bit of a scene. How in the crap do I get myself into these messes. Gary is double parked waiting for us to get in…. I have no idea how to say “can I please return this wang pasta” in Italian….And I’ll be damned if I’m not going to use it because it was freaking expensive. We get into the van-still crying-and decide not to tell anyone anything. I’ll make the pasta-and hope no one notices? Dear god.
We come back to the apartment and bring our purchases to our rooms. Everyone meets at the muppet lounge for lunch-pizza and salad and beer 🙂 and then we make our way to the pool and sit there for the afternoon-Mom and Dad retreating to their room for a nap to meet us later. Nicole gary chris and I share a few bottles of wine and nap and giggle and have a great leisurely afternoon. Mom and Dad come down a couple of hours later for a swim and wine also. We have a wine tasting at 4pm so we need to rest up.
The wine tasting is at the winery owned and operated by our Agriturismo apartment owners. In fact, since we’ve been Coming here
The woman who we originally booked with has passed the vineyard and operation down to her daughter. So even though we’ve done this exact wine tasting other years- this time it’s much different. The new 24 year old owner has introduced some new wines-even a sparkling rose-brut and dry-actually really nice. We meet our vineyard touring companions- a couple from Germany-adorable- and we do a brief tour of the gardens and vineyard, storage rooms and testing labs. Then we are presented with a set table in the barrel rooms. Bruschetta, soft and hard cheeses and olive paste with bread. And the actual wine tasting begins. Tasting is a bit of an undersell. It’s more of a booze fest. Very generous pours of their 4 most different wines-2 white and 2 red- to give us an idea of their diversity. They are amazing. And we are now best friends with the Germans (Matias and Carina). We spend an easy hour tasting wine and eating amazing cheese. Sigh. Then we are brought to the purchasing counter and offered to taste anything we want. We try a few more and come away with fuzzy heads, wine glasses with the Agriturismo logo printed on them, and a sloppy promise from Matias and Carina to always be friends and talk on the phone weekly and write and email and follow each other on Instagram and Facebook. After a brief discussion with Carina, I instruct Matias to propose next year. My work here is done.
After the wine tasting we head to dinner at the Agriturismo and are fed to bursting with wild bore, beef and cheese. Wine and bread. And then on to San G for a night cap of gelato. Mom with vanilla bean, Dad, nicole and gary with chocolate and chris and I with salted caramel. It is to die for. We sit in the square and listen to the happy buzz of the locals – the only other people in town at 10:30 pm. It’s so quiet and peaceful.
We walk back to the van, home, Gonzo and Camilla to bed, a Brief muppet lounge visit, then off to bed. Tomorrow we are doing the famous Crete Senesi drive and Karen’s world famous bird pasta. Sigh.