Living Like a Local in Tuscany with G Adventures.

By Posted in - Europe & Featured Post & Italy & Travel Blog & Tuscany on April 24th, 2013

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It’s crazy. We’re in Italy – just got here today! Wow.

We were scheduled to be here next week but by a crazy turn of events we arrived one week early.

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On the farm in Tuscany.

We flew into Bologna and the minute we stepped on the tarmac I felt a wave of excitement and peacefulness role over me. I just can’t help it. I LOVE being in Italy. It feels like home in every way to me. So much that I started thinking today “hmmm… maybe I should just overstay my visa…” Technically that’s a bad plan and as much as I want to be a rebel with or without a cause, I’m not going to do it. But I’ve made a promise to myself that when I return home I will start the arduous process of working on getting my dual citizenship. Everyone I know says it is a huge headache but I still need to give it a go so that one day I can touchdown and stay down.

By now (and if you ever seen any of our Somewhere In Time photos from Italy) you know that we have been to Italy before. This is actually our fourth time visiting the country.

Italy has always been an emotional destination for me. The first time we came here 3 years ago was to track down long lost family members. By every off chance in the book – we found them – in Rome and a little village called Lacedonia. We spent days hugging, kissing, telling stories in their broken English and my pathetic Italian and of course, eating. It was really the journey of a lifetime for me and one I had fantasized about doing since I was a little girl because Lacedonia is the tiny, little hilltop village where my grandparents were born. To visit there, well I’d love to tell you about it but there just aren’t any words to do it justice. I’d say you could look at the photos (because there are thousands) but it was actually such a personal and emotional story that initially I just wasn’t able to get it all on the blog.

I know, I’m a bad blogger. I should be writing about my most personal stories but it’s just sometimes that is really hard to do quickly. I eventually did publish two stories from that trip: The Homecoming and Brigida, Gina & Emilio’s Nocino. Warning: You might cry.

If it helps give you some perspective – the very first time I arrived in Italy I turned into a sobbing mess. We came in on a train from Paris and everything was going great except when at the last minute we were getting up from our seats and an older lady turned to ask me a question in Italian. I hadn’t heard the accent in over 20 years since my Nonna died. I burst into tears immediately and cried hard for 20 minutes on the train, literally unable to stop. I even pinched myself over and over – didn’t work. Luckily we were in Italy, which I believe is the emotional heartland of the world so if there’s ever a train to wail on, an Italian one is probably your best bet.

I’ve been in Italy less then 24 hours and I’ve already shed a few tears so we’re good.  I’m 4 for 4 now and clearly Italy’s charm or emotional core will never lose it’s hold on me.

So that’s my Italy. A beautiful mix –  the love story of a girl, her journey home and an overwhelmingly beautiful destination combined with good old fashioned Italian emotions that won’t stay put. Then of course there’s the food. Oh God the FOOD.

Living Local In Tuscany

Enough babbling about myself – the whole reason I wanted to write was to tell you about this short, yet sweet 4 day jaunt that we are starting tomorrow with G Adventures. Our trip is a shortened version of their 7 day adventure titled: Local Living in Southern Tuscany.

As you can tell by the name alone this trip is going to be freaking incredible.

We’ll be staying with our host Stephano’s in his farmhouse, or as they call them in Italy, an agriturismo. I love farms and G Adventures description of Stephano tells me things are gonna be just perfect: “Our host Stefano is a very keen producer of everything local and organic and loves showing visitors around the region of his ancestors.” Definitely perfecto.

We’ll be sampling organic wines, cheeses, meats and olive oils. We’ll also be touring the organic vineyards and wine cellar while learning about the ‘slow food’ movement and we’ll be given a cooking demonstration before dinner. YUM.

I’m also very excited because we’ll be taking some day trips as well which include riding bikes in the Tuscan countryside (hello bucket list), checking out the beautiful, medieval city of Siena (it’s so beautiful I have a niece named after this city) and lastly getting in some additional landscape therapy at the UNESCO heritage site of Val d’Orcia. If the name doesn’t sound familiar – I’m pretty sure this photo will do the trick:

Tuscany Farmhouse Belvedere at dawn, San Quirico d'Orcia, Italy

Val d’Orcia

 

I have never been to Val d’Orcia but I have long drooled over photos from the area so I am particularly excited to take photos there.

Randy and I have been very fortunate in our travel lives have actually spent 2 weeks on a Tuscan farm previously and I am really excited for the opportunity to return to this beautiful region and see more of it. If you’ve been a long time reader you will remember some of our tales about WWOOFing in Tuscany. WWOOFing is a way to volunteer on organic farms around the world and it is without a doubt one of the best ways to learn about a culture while at the same time getting a completely different perspective on travel. There really is nothing like it and when I read our upcoming itinerary it immediately reminded me of our days on the Tuscan farm.

Slow, organic food was a daily ritual and endless bottles of wine each night became a way of life. Constant laughter from fellow WWOOFers, cooking lessons and endless good times pretty much surmised our time on the farm and it was easily one of the best travel experiences we have ever had. However there is one major difference between this trip and WWOOFing – working.

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Randy hard at work on the farm…

When we WWOOFed we worked 8 – 10 hour days every day but Sunday. We were making wine and the grapes had to be harvested in time. Lemme tell you – picking grapes may sound easy but it is very labor intensive plus the hills – so many hills in Tuscany! You have to walk up and down, up and down over and over and over again with 30lb casetas full of grapes! Then there were the spiders – I know you don’t want to hear it but there are a LOT of bugs in your wine – that’s just the way it is.

Still with all this work, we loved it. Adored it. We worked our butts off and still fell head over heels in love with the little Tuscan vineyard we called home for two weeks.

Why am I telling you all of this? Well it means this trip is going to be beyond incredible! It has all the elements of our beloved WWOOFing adventure but none of the work! And it has another large bonus: Exploration.

Because we won’t have to spend 8+ hours in the field each day we will actually get to discover Tuscany – how awesome is this?!

For the next few days we’ll be exploring organic Tuscany – the food, the wine, Stephano’s passion for slow food AND we’ll get to see the sights – Val d’Orcia, Siena and bike riding. It’s the full package! Thanks to our experiences in the past we know this trip is going to be quite amazing and we just can’t wait to share it with you.

We just got an Italian sim card today so be sure to follow along socially for live, in the moment updates starting tomorrow!

We’ll be using the hashtag #gLocalLiving on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest so please stop by and check out the photos and travel tips we’ll be posting.

Oh and stay tuned on the blog because in another few days we’ll be announcing our next Italian project that starts next week! It’s all Italy all the time here on Beers & Beans. Well at least for the next few weeks!

 

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*Please remember all photos on this website, unless otherwise noted, are copyrighted and property of Beers and Beans Travel Website & Bethany Salvon. Please do not use them without my permission. If you do want to use one of them please contact me first. Thanks!

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(6) awesome folk have had something to say...

  • Tracy Z -

    April 24, 2013 at 3:25 pm

    enjoy the trip! Italy is beautiful, esp Tuscany!

  • Penny Sadler -

    April 24, 2013 at 5:06 pm

    Sooo jealous. And so cool for you. Happy to meet some fellow Italophiles. Lucky you to have some roots and ancestors. I tried to find one, but no banana. 🙂
    Hey thanks for a great story. I’ll be going to Italy in the fall so maybe I can do some of the grape harvesting thing!?

  • Sofie -

    April 25, 2013 at 5:41 am

    Hi there,
    I’m sorry, this is going to be off topic: I love following your blog, but I find the fluo green for the links really hard to read.
    There, some site feedback:)

  • Debbie Devita -

    April 27, 2013 at 9:52 am

    I have always wanted to go to Italy. It is defiantly on my bucket list. I love this article and some great pics too!

  • Nicholas -

    May 10, 2013 at 12:53 am

    It is always a great feeling to track down your family members. I remember I was in my senior school when I first visited the village my grandparents were born. Though I was unable to speak or understand their language, it still felt so good.

  • Jeo -

    May 10, 2013 at 2:15 am

    You had me at the photographs, I was so attracted by them that I did an entire research on the weather of Tuscany. Though the place is actually beautiful with great weather, the photos you clicked are commendable. I envy you, I wish I got a chance to live locally there.