Friday, August 9, 2013

Italy's Beauties

I recently had the pleasure of Italy.  First a few days in Rome and then cycling through the vineyard-covered hills of the Piemonte region near Turin, a bit west of Milan.  At times it was hard work on hot hills, but it was spectacular.  As my sister aptly said, it felt like we were riding our bikes through a painting.
(And I'm happy to say that Skippy the implanted defibrillator was quiet and peaceful, even when the hills got taxing.  Another first as my Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) 4th birthday looms).

     And then there was our cycling group.  It included 5 people who are veterans of multiple Ironman triathlons.  And my sister and I most assuredly are not.  Others brought their own pedals for their own special shoes.  And we didn't even really understand that sentence.  So mostly we saw these people at meals.

     There were a few I genuinely enjoyed; one from Hawaii and a couple from Seattle.  The Seattle pair  seemed great - smart, interesting, etc - call her Jane and John.  She also happened to be pretty and very stylish. She wore 'outfits' while biking, but not biking outfits.  She crafted her own look, and she had a "look" each and every day.  And turns out, a nascent fashion business on the side.  Or expensive hobby.  In any event, for Jane, appearance matters, aesthetics matter.

     I liked Jane and her husband through much of the trip.  One evening before dinner, the group went to visit a wine cellar on a working vineyard.  I don't have much curiosity about wine-making, so I sat by the house where the working family lived.  It was a beautiful early evening, lovely sitting outside as the sun headed down.  The family was ending their separate days; mother feeding the young kids, hanging laundry outside on racks, feeding two large dogs, a couple cats and an adorable litter of kittens.  I remember thinking she had probably worked all day and then had to face kids, dinner and laundry. It seems women may have tougher lives than men in rural Italy.

     And then we were at dinner; a 'family-style' dinner in a courtyard restaurant, our group at 2 long tables surrounded by local families.  I happened to be across from Jane and her husband and for conversation, I asked about the visit to the wine cellar.  She responded that it had been almost wonderful, interesting, good wine, that the visit was terrific with just one complaint. She thought the family should have taken in the laundry before our group arrived.  That our group was on an expensive vacation and we shouldn't have to see laundry at the vineyard.

   I was shocked; speechless in fact.  Her husband looked mortified.  And then I managed to say that I thought it was just a shame that she didn't have a dryer.  Then, because we are adults with well-developed social skills to use on travel with a group of strangers, I asked about the wine.

Beware the pretty ones; they can be marred.