I was excited about our vacation. I was excited to explore some new towns. I was excited to taste some new foods. But I was particularly excited about the drive. Picture it: a scenic drive through rolling hills flanked by olive trees and vineyards. It would be so picturesque, I just knew it.
Fast forward to actual drive. We left post-lunch to try to align afternoon nap with the three hour drive. (This was largely successful until we stopped for gas.) The drive along the autostrade was uneventful. Same for the smaller highway. And then we turned off onto the local roads.
I had just been telling James that I hoped our kids wouldn’t be the carsick kind, thinking about those poor unfortunate types with delicate constitutions who had to stop frequently and clean their cars more often. I didn’t think that *I* would be the weak link on the team. But, alas, although I wasn’t sick, I was the one white-knuckling it around the curves and with an uncomfortable pit in my stomach.
First, these are not hills. I suppose they aren’t mountains, but they have to be close. Mini-mountains if you will. Very tall.
Second, for the most part, the speed limit is 60 mph! And people are doing it!
Third, people did not seem to be behaving as if they were dealing with very narrow, mountainous roads with high speed limits. We’d come around a blind curve and a car would be parked in the middle of the road, the inhabitants off looking at some flora or fauna. People would be walking beside the shoulder-less road. Bikes would be cruising along, seemingly oblivious to the traffic bearing down on them.
It was gorgeous. I will give it that. Grape vines turning a golden yellow. Clouds over the top of a mountain. But the drive was intense. And I wasn’t even the one driving.
We reached Volterra in the late afternoon. Because there was no recognized address, James had punched the GPS coordinates into the navigator. Unfortunately, the GPS tried to take us on there on a route without roads. This resulted in some turns down very narrow roads with my saying things like “this can’t possibly be two-way!!!” But we made it back on track and found our agriturismo down a long and bumpy dirt road.
The sun was setting and we watched it slip over the horizon. It was, admittedly, gorgeous. I could almost see putting up with the hassle of these roads for it, I thought.
Then I realized we’d have to go navigate these roads AT NIGHT if we wanted dinner. We survived. My hand cramped a little from gripping the door handle all the way.
And then when we emerged the next morning, it was a truly breathtaking scene. A perfect Tuscan day. The sun shone brightly. Clouds looked like they had been placed in the sky as props. You could see the sheep grazing on the next mountain–even hear them baaing along through some trick of sound. It was green and beautiful and wonderful.
So I definitely do see the appeal. I get it. Just not for me. A nice place to visit, but not to live. I mean, it snows here, people! I don’t even want to think about the roads then.