Friday, October 21, 2011

Italian Riding Adventures - Part 3

Day 6 -

This morning we rode to Pacina Vineyards.  This is a totally organic winery that has been a vineyard as far as Etruscan times. The property has also housed both a monastery and a convent.  In order for it to be certified organic, they can't do anything with the grapes. Whatever nature does to the vineyards is what nature does to the vineyards.  It was a beautiful spot where Siena was visible in the distance.

The make three wines at Pacina.  Their Chianti Collo Senese (named for hills of Siena that surround the vineyard) is from their oldest vines.  These are deeply rooted in the soil and the grapes have the most intense flavor.  Their Secondo wine is made from the younger vines and the flavor is less intense.  Finally they make a syrah as the owner of the vineyard decided to see how syrah grapes did in the dry, clay-like soil or their terroir and found they did quite well. 

We had a lovely, leisurely tour of the vineyards and the cellars.  They showed us their press room, fermentation room, and aging rooms.  There was a blocked-off staircase that led to their original Etruscan cellars. 

For some reason in the press room I began to cough uncontrollably.  Kevin thought it might be mold, but there was far more mold in the aging rooms than in the press room.  It was very strange.  I just couldn't be in that room very long.

We enjoyed our picnic lunch among the vines.  We had been provided with a bottle of Secondo wine for the picnic and we really enjoyed it.  After a leisurely lunch we  had a very long ride back to the farm.   It was a beautiful day and I was riding Jup again.  It was paradise to be galloping such a nice horse through the Tuscan countryside among the grapevines with the sun shining and the Senese hills surrounding us.  That will always be on my list of "My Happy Places" when I need to go to my Happy Place.

This was our  most grueling ride all week.  We had clocked a total of 5.5 hours in the saddle not including the time spent at the vineyard.  It had been a good day though.  That night we had a bottle of the Pacina Collo Senese with dinner.  I didn't like it as much as the Secondo.  It had a bit too much oak for my taste.

Day 7+

Today's ride was a short and quiet one. I rode Dakot, a flea-bitten gray gelding who was very large, but had beautiful gaits.  I liked him almost as much as Jup.  The three preceding days had been quite warm, but the temperatures cooled off again and the wind really kicked up this day.  Donatella kept us mostly in the woods where we would be sheltered from the wind.  At one point we were walking across an open field and I thought I was going to be blown out of the saddle.  Another couple who was staying nearby joined us for the ride.  The wife was a rider, but the husband was not.  I was very surprised that they put him on Ambrogio.  He would have been my last choice for someone who wasn't experience.

We came back to the farm for lunch and tried some of the local pizza.  Donatella and Sadio wanted us to see how it compared to the pizza back home.  It was pretty good, but it wasn't Sal's.

We had the afternoon to kill.  Sadio had encouraged us (and it is listed in the tour description) to visit a nearby hot springs spa.  I was game, but I was outvoted.  Or, more accurately, no one really asked me what my preferences were.  I was a bit grumpy about that.  I took a short walk to abandoned farm on the ridge for some closeup pictures.

Kevin wanted a riding lesson, so since I had nothing else to do that afternoon, we took a lesson with Donatella together.  I decided to try yet another horse.  He was a large black horse named Dardo.  Kevin and I were both showing in a horse show on Sunday (crazy of us I know) so Donatella was giving us pointers on our dressage tests.  Riding with a new instructor is always humbling.  A different instructor can always point out the faults your regular instructor has learned to ignore.  After the lesson she joked that an hour in the ring with her is tougher than 5 hours out on the trails. 

With the weather being so cold that afternoon there wasn't much to do outside as the sun went down.  We had no choice but to go inside and start packing.  I hated facing the idea that I had to go home, but that's the reality of vacation.  The three of us ate a low-key dinner with Sadio and discussed our departure plans for the next day.  I told Sadio I would try not to cry.  Then I told him to try not to cry too!

Saturday morning we were up early and did our final packing.  I had hoped to give myself a few extra minutes to go out and say goodbye to the horses, but time got away from me a bit.  We said goodbye to Donatella, climbed into the car with Sadio, and drove back to the train station to go back the way we came.

Saturday was an endless day.  We were flying out of Rome because the flights out of Florence were too early in the morning.  We took the train to Florence.  Once we were in Florence we had to transfer again to Rome.  Our suitcases were huge and heavy, so we were tired of lugging them.  Kevin decided we should splurge on a taxi again to take us to the airport instead of taking the shuttle train.  This didn't turn out to be such a bad idea.  Kevin had never been to Rome before (he wasn't impressed with what he saw) and the taxi ride gave us a bit of a tour of the city.  We went right by  the Forum and the Coloseum, so it gave us a chance to see the sights.  The downside is that the taxi was seriously expensive!

Our flight was delayed a bit, so we were stuck at the crowded airport for a while.  Then we boarded and things didn't get much better.  This was a nine-hour flight and it was almost entirely a day time flight (taking time changes into account).  When you are sitting in an airplane seat for that long you need a lot of entertainment.

There were several movies available to watch during the flight.  It's too bad my little TV died two hours into the flight.

I had a book with me.  It's just too bad my overhead light stopped working and most passengers closed their window shades so there was very little light on the plane.

The best I could do was just sit and try to sleep.  I'll say this much.  I slept more on the flight home from Rome than I slept on the flight to Rome.

We finally made it to NY, but I was not in the best mood.  I was no longer in Italy and had had a miserable flight.  I hoped I would never have to fly Alitalia again! If we want to go back to Tuscany,  Delta flys to Pisa...

Once we were home we had to unpack and do laundry.  I wasn't in bed till almost midnight.  I was glad we had made it home safe and sound, but I knew I would be aching for Italy for a long time.

Being home wasn't all that bad though.  That horse show we entered on Sunday?  Riddle and I took first place!

1 comment:

  1. It all sounds so wonderful. I think you're so clever to have found such a perfect trip for your interests and amazing horse abilities. (I know that terminology is probably wrong, but you get the idea.) Great pictures too.