Sunday, March 25, 2012

Chianti by Motorbike and a Prayer

Checco and I make it to Chianti in one piece and take in some wine and atmosphere in a typical piazza...

Yesterday I played some hookie from my new book(s) and hopped on the back of a motorcycle for a ride into the Chianti region of Italy. Chianti is about 25 or so kilometers from downtown Florence, and calling it a scenic ride doesn't remotely do it justice, as it is as close to God's country as one can get without dying and taking the high speed express to heaven.

The high speed metaphor is a discriminate since my mode of travel was a motorcycle (they call them motorbikes here which makes them sound cute and fuzzy which they are not). I rode on the back of my friend and all around fixer's bike, Francesco "Checco" Tassi. Checcho loves motorcycles and he owns a bunch of them. He races off road with a core group of like-minded crazies and sometimes will travel across entire countries like Spain on a motorcycle. So when he accelerated our bike upwards of 110 KPH, while I held on with one hand and aimed a video camera in the other, I had to believe that he knew exactly what he was doing and that if we crashed I would die as quickly as an insect goes splat against a speeding windshield.

At one point, a two-point buck jumped out in front of us and for a split second, the old life (or middle aged lives in both our cases), flashed through our brains. Instead of spilling the bike, Checco calmly decelerated and tried to ease us past the frightened deer who suddenly about-faced and made the mad dash back across the street in the direction from which he originally crossed. It was all quite the adventure, and dressed in vintage leather coat, scarf, and engineers boots, I felt like I was caught up in some 1950's adventure movie. Secret of Incas, China, or maybe The Naked Jungle. Of course a Fellini flick would have been more apropos.

One thing is for sure, when you find yourself riding on the back of a motorcycle in the middle of the most beautiful, vine and tree-covered hills imaginable, cruising a gravel-covered road with a slight rain spattering against the translucent helmet visor and dripping down your lips, you come to realize in every bit of that "Eat, Pray, Love" sort of way, that life does indeed not suck. Life is what you make of it. No one is going to make it for you. So if you're reading this on your couch today in your living room, and you want to escape so badly you think you're going to lose your mind, promise me something. Promise me you'll click off this blog and click onto the Expedia travel site (or whichever site you prefer) and book a ticket to some distant land. Doesn't matter where too or for how long, so long as it's far away, and will take some difficulty getting there. I guarantee it will change your life.

Until next time...

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