It was on that day:
That day was over cast and rainy and my traveler friends and I packed our raincoats before we went out to meet our guide for the day. I use the title chauffeur loosely since he could have just as easily been an axe murderer looking for a group of naive-English speaking, young tourists to take out into the lovely Tuscan hills never to be seen again. Luckily for me, common sense hadn’t set in at this age yet.
His name was Sam and one of my friends had met him kicking around the lobby of the hostel we were staying at– he was drumming up business and appeared to be a friend of the owners. He was young and seemingly friendly looking enough, and more than willing to take our group on an adventure the following day. He arguably struck a good bargain (or did he? We wouldn’t have known the difference) and made us a pitch we couldn’t refuse.The next morning we piled into his white cube, 9 seater van and left the city of Florence behind us.
We arrived at the ranch safely after winding through the country-side for no more than half an hour.
We were quickly saddled up, coached on the minimum basics and in no time, were riding down muddy trails on horses who knew them so well, you didn’t even have to hold the reins. There was a heavy fog sitting over the vineyard and the horses led us off the main path and in through the vines.
It was quiet and subdued and we single filed behind one another until our horse started to lead us back to the ring where we had started from. We dismounted and were led inside the stone farmhouse, which was a typical post card picture of Tuscany. From the balcony you could look out over the grey-misted valley of grape-vines.
Inside there was a fire burning in a huge stone fire place and it dried out our damp clothes.
And then they fed us with cheese and meat, olives, fresh bread and wine out of a decanter.
You can’t make this stuff up people. I arrived in Italy, a fresh faced 21 year old who only drank 7 % alcoholic coolers. But it was on that day that I was left with a warm memory of friends and a love of wine.