Metaphorically speaking, of course. Tonight's class was going to be all about Tuscan wines. Sadly, my sitter was a no-show, so here I am. Still, a night watching Bo on the Go with the Doodle and then sipping on the last of the Black Prince chard while I dink around on Facebook in my pyjamas isn't all that bad ...
But I'd still rather be in Tuscany.
Last time I was (actually) there was in 2000. I joined a Contiki bus tour called "Taste of Tuscany" for my first-ever European trip. This was long before I even considered wine to be a regular part of my diet, never mind worth studying. I had just finished university, where beer was usually the drink of choice. Wine was for special occasions at home.
I flew into Rome over terracotta rooftops, and rode the train into the heart of the city, passing by neighbourhoods with a regular pattern of house/house/apartment building/2,000-year-old ruins/house/house. I walked around looking like such a tourist, slack-jawed in amazement. Aside from my luggage going AWOL and a last-minute change of accommodations, I was thrilled to be in Italy.
The tour stopped in some of the most beautiful villages I've ever seen: Siena, San Gimigiano, Viterbo, Chiusi, Assisi ... I climbed over 400 steps to the top of Florence's Duomo, ran my fingers over the dusty marble mountains of Carrera, got lost in the tiny labyrinthine streets of Lucca, and ate gelato three times a day.
My wine experiences, in retrospect, couldn't have been any better: in Chianti, we biked over killer hills to be rewarded with a stop at Castello di Meleto, a centuries-old castle overlooking a verdant valley. Almost everyone left with a couple of bottles of their Chianti Classico Riserva ... everyone except me, who didn't know anything about wines back then. Silly me.
We visited Banfi and Orvieto, where I *did* buy the wines ... only to find out that you can get them all at your local LCBO. Oh well, the stuff from Italy tasted much better anyway.
The loveliest by far, however, was a memorable stay at Pieve a Salti, an agriturismo nestled in the rolling hills of Buonconvento, just outside of Siena. This was allegedly the home of the best sunsets in Italy (or the world, depending on who you spoke to). We dined on a traditional Tuscan feast, we drank full, tannic reds that practically ripped our taste buds off, we stretched out by the pool and lounged in the restored villas throughout the enclave. And when it came time for the sun to put on its long-awaited performance, we weren't disappointed. Who could be? How could you possibly be disappointed while standing on a terrace in Italy, sipping prosecco beneath a trellis of grape vines, while the sun sets in a blaze of crimson, orange and purple? I will never forget that experience.
I still get homesick for Tuscany; I think there were moments when I felt more like myself and in my own element there than in any other place I've been. I can't wait to go back.