Biking Across Italy

A couple wed for one year decides to travel to N. Italy for two months–and, blog about it.

My friend James Cooke has done just that. If you at all like food, wine and stories about small villages, Tuscan farmhouses, and pasta, then his trip is amazing.

Just before graduating from business school, my wife and I decided to take a cycling trip across Italy, from one coast to the other, through Le Marche, Umbria and Tuscany. We too had been married for just one year and in our mid-20s. It remains to this day the best vacation of my life.

We didn’t have much money, but decided, what the heck. We spent nearly all of my signing bonus on that trip.

I will never forget one moment, when I turned around a bend while cycling on a rural road, and came upon a green hillside filled with wild flowers and sheep all around. The smell of new grass and flowers. The gentle bleating of sheep. The smells and sounds of country life.

It was one of those instances when you wished you could bottle up the moment and take it with you forever.

We biked five to seven hours a day, and it wasn’t easy. It was a tough trek, going through the mountains of Italy, and many people in our cycling group dropped out. The only people left in the end were ourselves, a man who biked 2,000 miles a year, and an assorted group of folks who do triathlons. Though we were the youngest riders and in good shape, my wife and I finished last every day. The next year, the cycling company shortened the trip.

I remember a particularly grueling stretch, only to hit upon at the end a long downhill glide to the beautiful town of Orvieto, golden in the early-evening sun (see up top). It looked like heaven.

At night, we’d dine at some local restaurant, and taste very local foods and very local wines, not realizing that we were opening the horizons of our minds to a new way of eating and living.

I write about this memory because today’s weather reminded me of that trip and James’ blog. Cool in the morning, comfortably warm the rest of the day, and a blazing early summer sun. A sub-group of our family today decided to golf, and it was a lot of fun.

Now, I’m about to cook steaks for Sunday dinner, and we have a bottle of French red open. A great day. A memorable day. One linked to a biking trip some decades ago….

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