So we didn’t just pocket all of the money you gave us for our honeymoon registry last year. After we decided we would be moving abroad, we decided to put off the honeymoon until then.
As most of you know, this is a trip I’ve wanted to take for as long as I can remember. An extra year was almost more than I could handle. It felt like it’d never get here. It was worth the wait.
The main challenge was not overextending ourselves during the two-week trek. That meant no Rome, Venice, Siena or any other surely beautiful place. Luckily, Erin has already been to those places, so she was down for checking out other parts of Italy. We limited ourselves to the northwest, visiting the Piedmont (home of the Leonatti family), Cinque Terre, Tuscany, Florence and back to Turin.
There were so many sights, colors, smells, tastes, etc., that this will take two posts. Sorry, not sorry.
This was the most important part of the trip for me. For a long time, it’s been a goal to see where my family came from. It may only be one part of my heritage, but it’s where my name comes from. No Louis Leonatti from Ozegna, no Andy Leonatti.
After missing one of the main highways out of Turin, we wound our way through the countryside on our way to Montegrosso d’Asti, where we were staying. We were greeted by our hosts Giovanna & Atillio, who greeted us with fresh fruit and a bottle of wine. After a six-hour train ride and a three-hour drive that should have only been one, we were ready to unwind. We found the right place:
So the first night was spent cooking in, listening to music and having too much wine and fernet branca.
Day two was spent in Barolo, one of the kings of the Italian wine scene. My favorite wine in the world, which I can never drink because it’s too expensive in the U.S. We took a tour of G.D. Vajra and then explored the town of Barolo, where we had a fantastic lunch of antipasti and more Piemontese wines.
On day three we visited Ozegna. It was a bit of a drive to the Northern Piedmont, but we did it without getting lost! The town itself is kind of underwhelming. I think Carlinville has more charm, actually. I don’t think it looks now like it did in 1898, when my great grandfather and his family left for Illinois.
BUT, it was extremely cool (don’t really know how else to describe it) to walk where he walked as a teen. I’m really glad we carved out time to do this:
On our final day in the Piedmont, we headed into Asti for the annual Festival delle Sagre, which kicks off the city’s Palio week. Basically, people from the surrounding small towns come in, cook local specialties and you drink wine, all for very cheap. It was a good afternoon.
We piled into the Punto and drove down to the Ligurian coast for a few days in the Cinque Terre. If you don’t know, it’s five villages built closely to each other along a very unforgiving stretch of coastline. It’s a protected national park and UNESCO heritage site. If you go, you WILL be climbing. Everywhere.
We checked into a wonderful apartment with a killer view and chilled on our porch. The Cinque Terre is so unbelievably gorgeous and packed with so. many. tourists. Train platforms were packed, the hiking trails were a little slow because of crowds, etc. We don’t get a pass either, but it was a bit frustrating at times. Three days was enough, but we would definitely go back. It’s too beautiful not to. Also fresh seafood everywhere.
The most important thing I had to come to grips with in Italy is that you really do need to go with the flow. They still embrace the two-hour lunch here, the trains do not run on time, and some businesses don’t really give a shit about making you wait. I may be a liberal, but inefficiency really grinds my gears. It helps to have someone with you who knows how to take a deep breath. I suppose it’s just something you get used to after living there for a while.
Also, the drivers. Holy shit. That’s all. The rumors are true.
We’ll pick this up in a few days. We’re back in France with a house to ourselves, and we need to detox. Time to illegally stream some college football.