Off the beaten path

One of my favourite things about travelling is the chance to pop off the beaten path and stumble on to surprises.
I had one of those days, yesterday.

When you look at a roadmap of Italy, everything looks flat. Ok, that’s not exactly rocket science material, but it becomes relevant as my day unfolds. The point is … don’t assume anything is ever flat!

I started off my day, leaving my little Vottage (as in very rustic villa) and heading towards to Siena on the SS222. I’m not entirely sure of the road classification system in Italy, but I think SS means super-scenic and super-swervy. This 40km stretch takes you from Greve in Chianti to Siena. My plan was shorter, saving Siena until my mom and daughter arrive next week.

My first stop was lunch, of course.

  

I swear that I could survive on antipasto platters. They are so perfect, as they always reflect the regional cuisine. You may think that Italian salami is all the same, but that would be a grave error. I know from family experience that 20 km is a very, very long way in Italia.

So, after my delicious lunch, spent in the company of a gorgeous young Irish-Italian family and a dozen sport bikers (they are everywhere!), I carried on, in search of the Chianti Sculpture Park.

That’s when things got interesting … and spectacular.

Before I continue, this is a good time to thank my parents for making sure I had all the skills required to navigate a 70 degree slope, on a gravel road, in a 5-speed. Up and down. More than once. And laugh while doing it.
This is where I ended up. Pievasciata.

  

Before I got there, I saw incredible things. Classic Toscano.

  
This view of gorgeous Siena from afar.

  
At the end of the journey, I arrived at a little tiny village that is working hard to make itself the centre for contemporary visual art in Italy. At the epicentre of this effort is the sculpture park.

I had a great chat with the owner. He is a lawyer by trade, but contemporary sculpture is his passion. Here are some of the highlights – international artists – of the kilometre long trail that winds through a former wild boar farm.

  
 
 
  

All of the sculptures were commissioned and integrated into the trail. Very cool, very beautiful, very tranquil. Loved it. I ended the evening with a glass (or two) of prosecco in the square in Panzano, my local village, before heading back to the Vottage. Never alone in Italy!

I encourage you all to explore in ways that take you away from what we are supposed to do, to what we want to do. One of the absolute benefits of solo travel.

Carry on!

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