Sunday, August 5, 2012

Pedaling through Piedmont

Every great cycling tour begins with a visit to grandma’s house. Ours was no exception. Guido and I decided that before taking on Tuscany we would spend a few days pedaling around Piedmont, a region in northwestern Italy, near Torino.

We started off from Guido’s hometown of Asti and made a loop that included pedaling past picturesque hilltop villages, passing rows and rows of grapes, resting on the steps of beautiful old churches overlooking the valley below, finally stopping off at his family’s vineyard for a cold glass of water, a glass of wine, and of course lunch.

At 90 years old, Guido’s nonna lives essentially alone high up in the countryside where the family has created wine for several generations. She has a thick head of hair that glows pearl white. Her frame is small and thin but very mobile and full of productivity. Her voice now scratches with age yet sparks with excitement when speaking with her grandson. Her tone coming alive about how disappointed she was that she took a 20 minute nap today, as that is “a good way to waste the life.”

Time slows over our lunch as we speak about WWII, life before and after Mussolini, and what she needs from the market. When you least expect it she cracks a smile that paints a perfect image of when she was a child. In that moment there exists a feeling of innocence so rare you want to freeze it forever. But you can’t, you just smile back and pedal on.

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