June 17th 2009

‘Spontaneity and the Element of Surprise’ by Alessandro Tombelli On our first afternoon in Siena as we are touring San Domenico church, we hear the faint sound of drums approaching. As the sound gets louder and we step outside; excitement mounts as we see a parade approaching through the narrow streets of this beautiful town. This is not any parade - these traditions span centuries! 'Sbandieratori' fly by us throwing their colorful flags in the air and catching them twirling, while the drummers keep step. The Palio di Siena will run soon and the festivities have already begun. We spend the next day in the Chianti hills, crossing vineyards, farms and olive groves, reaching the ancient town of Monteriggioni for lunch. We settle outside on the terrace and notice that across the street a wedding is taking place in the tiny church. As our pasta arrives, we watch the bride and groom emerge with all the friends and families who are throwing rice on the smiling couple. The 'sposi' happily climb in to an old Fiat Cinquecento and make a loop around the square honking the horn – we are all waving and clapping as they disappear through the town gates. There is so much to experience on our walk through Tuscany …wine tastings, honey tastings, olive oil tastings guided visits to towns and churches…but being part of the landscape is not the only benefit to seeing things on foot. You can smell it, taste it and feel it like a local. In Cortona, a charming little town where a famous young Italian singer named Jovanotti was born, we are having a delicious meal when Anna our Walk Manager notices the one and only Javanotti is sitting across the room! 'I’d love to have his autograph but I’m too shy to ask' says Anna… he signs a piece of paper 'Ciao Anna, Jovanotti.' On our last day in Bevagna, we lunch in a medieval manor and sample a dozen small courses of Tuscan fare. The afternoon is spent in Montefalco to see a museum. Before dinner we have a romantic wine tasting of Sagrantino at sunset in the hotel’s garden. It’s a lovely party but a bit sad knowing we are at the end of a week we will remember for a long time. Join our next walks in Tuscany.... Tuscan Villas, Wines & Cuisine ~ September 6-12, 2009 ~ US$3595 per person (including US$400 currency bonus) Tuscany & Umbria ~ September 20-26, 2009 ~ US$3595 per person (including US$400 currency bonus)

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