Day Two:  The next day we woke up early and met with a guide who would bring us to wineries for wine tasting.  Wine tasting works very differently in Italy then it does in the states.  Sure you go to a winery to taste wine, but also to eat. It’s always done with food, it’s naturally a full gastronomical experience. Contrast that with tasting in the states where you walk in and taste up to six wines stay for 45 minutes and move on to the next one. Here, it’s an all-day affair at one winery.  First though, we stopped to taste some olive oil. Like a cross between doing shots at a bar and tasting wine, olive oil is first poured into a little cup.  It’s smart to warm the oil with the heat from your hand before taking it, then roll it in your mouth and swallow.  The experience is like non-other. Oil Olive varies from spicy, sweet to bitter depending on when you pick it and press it.  Then we went to a vineyard and had a tour exploring the catacombs, the grounds, and the building, which was beautiful (naturally).  Like most places, this vineyard was previously occupied. I stared with aw at the landscape and the family portraits thinking how magical it would be to grow up as a child here running around, and playing hide-and-seek in the cellars.

Day Three/Four:  Today was our last day at the villa, but before we left to return to Florence we took a little hike around the area. During which, we had a possible close encounter with a wild boar.  I could have sworn I heard oinking and that was enough for me.  We stumbled upon an abandoned building and walked through a small grove with really creepy trees.  Our two-day stay in Florence can easily be summed up as a “Feasting Festival” as I ate rich risotto, gorged on gelato and finished a fantastic Florentine steak. All thanks to my Aunt who because she lived in Florence for a year, knew all these awesome places to go to (shout out to Baldivino!).

Following Days:   This is where I guess I started to deviate from my aunt’s business plans because we started to stay with family and I have cousins around my age, so I’ll stick to the stuff that’s relevant to my aunts trips.  What do you get when you mix an Adirondack town with a European flare on the edge of the Italian, French and Swedish border? Aosta Valley; a cute cabin town that was almost a fairy tale at the base the most breathtaking mountains.  This was my first time here.  Stepping out of the car, I felt how cold it was, but still too warm to snow, although, it was over shadowed by the mountains. They were so big and so beautiful, I completely forgot about the weather. All I wanted to do was just stare at them.   I didn’t really care about anything else.  It was like something from a book.  Snow capped misty mountains under a gray ski, which highlighted the color of the trees.  There were positives to the unfortunate weather.  It gave us perfect reason to have hot chocolate.  Like wine tasting, it is different from its American counter part. It’s almost pudding like and you need a spoon to eat it.  Try drinking it out of the cup and you run a great risk in looking silly as you wait for it to slowly pour down.  Being so close to France, it would be silly not to part-take in a crepe for lunch.

To be continued…