Living the Dream in Lucca

I’ll never be rich (at least not in monetary terms) or famous, but for the next two weeks, I’ll be living as if I were.

Our villa in Lucca is exquisite. Because of bed type and bathroom preferences among the other villa mates, I ended up with this fantastic room.  I’m so glad Sandy is joining me here on July 4th, to share this amazing experience with me.  Get ready, everyone–once little sister arrives, the blog will likely become much more exciting (or maybe not, so it can keep its PG rating.)

Half of our room
The rest of our room

Check out that terrace, right outside our room.

The terrace on the 2nd floor
The view from the terrace
Our bathroom

I’m quite proud of myself.  I actually figured out how to use the shower on my own. Usually Mike does all the hard stuff. This shower has knobs galore to control overhead, side and hand sprays. The door reminds me of Star Trek, except it has a seat, so you can be comfy while being beamed up?

Ours is the only shared bathroom, (with the “twin bed” room) but there is also a bathroom on the first floor. The three other bedrooms (two on the third floor) have their own, equally magnificent bathrooms. So, five bedrooms in total, and five baths.

The kitchen

There is also a large, shady terrace on the first floor.

Terrace dining room
Living room, as seen from dining room
Third floor living room
The pool, viewed from the second floor
The pool, yet again

Goodbye Orvieto, hello Tuscany

Orvieto was wonderful; its wi-fi connection was not. So we will save the narrative and photos for that leg of our journey until uploading is not so arduous.

Those on the tour that were not doing the Orvieto pretrip arrived on Saturday night. Becky, who came from California, arrived minus her luggage. She and the thunder storms hit the east coast around the same time, so her journey was by far the most exciting, although Bud and Ruth also had a story to tell about their flight from Philadelphia. Seasoned travelers all, they took their adventures in stride. I, on the other hand, was quite glad to have been spared the experience.

We stopped on our way out of Orvieto for a photo-op.

Lunch was in the little fortress town of Pitigliano, and offered yet another departure photo-op.

Next stop, our beautiful 4 star resort, Antica Fattoria La Parrina. This “farm” produces its own wine, cheese, yogurt, vegetables, oil, balsamic vinegar, organic pasta, jams and sauces which we would soon be sampling.

We were greeted by Astrid, who served us wine and cheese while our luggage was being deposited in our rooms. I’m not normally a white wine fan, but their’s is delicious. So is their red, so I drank both.

Check out my gorgeous room.

I’m a little mystified by the table and chairs in the bathroom. Am I supposed to invite my two best friends in for tea while I take a bubble bath?

We met our team leaders, Franco and Angelo for a safety briefing. After they finished telling us about the fast moving traffic, I looked at Beth to see if she was as terrified as I was. When they said fast moving traffic, I visualized NYC, but fortunately their definition of traffic is quite different from ours.

There are 20 of us bikers, and as with our last VBT trip, it didn’t take long for us to feel like we had been friends for years. Getting lost is a particularly bonding experience. Plus the wine helps.

We had a short introductory ride to get used to our bikes. Well, short for some, longer for those that are directionally challenged. Can you guess which group I fit in?

Dinner was a typical Italian event that lasted for hours with glorious food, lots of wine, great company. This could be habit forming!

Today’s ride took us through the Tuscan countryside. This is postcard worthy scenery.

Those hills are beautiful, but they are a bit of a challenge for some of us.

Tuscany by the Sea with VBT

Us “biker chicks” are off for another VBT adventure, this time in Italy.  Yep, five of last year’s group will soon be mounting up.  We’ll be minus Marilyn this time, which is a disappointment, because when she’s along, the fun quotient increases.  I hope she’ll be keeping up with us electronically.

My least favorite part of traveling is the overnight plane ride. Although I’ve packed my “comfort” items: Noise cancelling headset, iPod, sleeping pill,  I still don’t make a smooth transition across time zones.

My flight leaves at 5 PM today, arriving in Rome at 7 AM.  Orvieto, the starting point for our trip is a 2 hour ride away.   Fortunately, all I have to do is get my luggage, get through customs and find the VBT rep who will transport me to our hotel.   That’s probably all I’ll be able to handle.  Did I mention that I’m not good at crossing time zones?

We have a few days in Orvieto to get acclimated and see the sights before we climb on our bikes. We will be riding to places that I had never heard of before signing on for the trip, so click on the blue print for the Map of the Tuscany Bike Tour if you want to know where we’ll be going, because odds are I’ll have forgotten the names by the time we get home.  So, don’t even bother asking.  (I”m taking to you, Sue).

We will finish the VBT portion of our adventure on June 30th, and will then head north for two weeks in Lucca.  I’ll be flying home on July 15th.

Why all of the details?  Well, I just got off the phone with my mother who accused me of not telling her that I’m leaving today.  Of course, I had told her multiple times,  but her response was that she can’t keep track of my travels.

Additionally, I’ve learned to anticipate internet complications. On my last trip, I fell far behind in my blog, confusing friends and family who thought that because my blog was still out west,so was I.  So.  Onward and upward.