For the past week, I have been surrounded by family and friends in a Tuscan villa- life is so good! After a year and a half in the planning, 11 of us gathered in a 7 bedroom villa at Barbarino Val D’Elsa to celebrate my 50th birthday. Tania and Murray extended the joy by getting married here as well.
We have learnt about the Palio by going on a tour of the Caterpillar contrada in Siena conducted by the author Dario Costagno. Everyone was then well educated when we watched this horse race on Wednesday and cheered on the victorious Dragon contrada.
We had a day in Cinque Terre walking on the only path still open for tourists between Monterosso and Vernazza. The other paths are still closed due to the landslides back in October 2011.
We took long drives to towns like Montepulciano,Volterre and San Gimigniagno that perch on hilltops surrounded by vineyards. All are wall-rimmed to defend themselves from the 21st century.
Thursday was Wedding Day as we drove to a small octagonal chapel in Semifonte with a radiant bride and a nervous groom. The Mayor of Barbarino Val D’Elsa conducted the ceremony whilst we all witnessed the joyous event before returning to the feast that awaited us at the Villa.
And finally today I have had the best birthday celebration by having a Tuscan cooking class with all my family and friends. (Thank you to everyone who sent me birthday wishes). Maria, the villa owner, taught us girls how to make ravioli, tagliatelle and tiramisu. Deliziosso!
Tomorrow we will travel on different journeys as we either continue on in Europe or return home but we will always remember our wonderful week here in Tuscany. Ciao!