Last month our Newsletter contained 5 items which I loosely labelled as ‘news’. The most popular proved to be the new photo galleries on Flickr. So, here’s another one for you.
I asked Roberto Peixoto to send me his photos from cycling round Tuscany with The Chain Gang. Here’s a link to the gallery on Flickr.
I’ve chosen 6 photos using the highly scientific method of ‘which photos I like’, as an illustration of Roberto’s gallery.
2. A row of Vespa scooters. Nothing to do with cycling, but so clasically Italian. Here’s a bit of trivia for you – Vespa means wasp, the idea is that they buzz around but don’t do anything useful. The delightful 3-wheel pick-up truck from the same company (Piaggio) is know as the ‘Ape’, which means Bee. Because they actually do some useful work. Good eh?
4. The Cantine in Greve-in-Chianti. On our very first tour of Tuscany, the vineyard we’d arranged to visit on Monday morning cancelled at very short notice. As a last resort we visited the Cantine (wine cellar) in Greve.
When I walked in, my heart sank. It looked just like a large-scale wine shop set up for tourists. Lorenzo, who used to guide for us in Tuscany, calmed me down and introduced me to Marco, who then took us all on a fantastic tour of the wines of Tuscany.
At a series of themed ‘wine stations’ you have to introduce a pre-paid card to sample a choice of 16 wines. It was exactly everything that our Bordeaux wine tastings are not. But it turned out to be so interesting, and Marco is such an interesting and knowledgable host. It gets a bit scary for me as we approach the Brunello di Montalcino or the Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. 12 of us approaching a collection of 16 wines each of them selling for about 5 euro a sip. Marco has spent 30 minutes ‘bigging up’ these famous Tuscan wines. We’re faced with a collection of 30-odd of the best of them, with an enthusiastic host pumping them out at 5 euro a time, and I’m paying the bill!
It’s very worth it, and this photo illustrates it well.
5. One of my favourite hotels on any of our trips is in Aiola, near Vagliagli. The owner, Fredrica, is the daughter of an Italian Senator, and her Mum serves us dinner in their castle on the other side of the road. This photo doesn’t show the scale or grandeur of the castle, nor the beauty of the surrounding landscape. But it is such a magical evening, and this photo brings it all back to me. And that’s what photos are for.
6. Having fun. On the face of it you might think the most important thing about our bike tours is the cycling. Or the food, the wine-tasting, the scenery. None of those are the reason I set up The Chain Gang. They’re all important, but if you come on a Chain Gang tour and don’t spend all week laughing, then it’s not worked very well. And that’s what you see in this photo.