Under a Tuscan Storm!
We walked into the sports bar- Maria and Lucia- almost as soon as we arrived at the stunning hilltop village of San Gimignano to watch the finish of the Tour de France at Mont St Michel. It was only a 30 minute drive from the adorable Tuscan farmhouse villa we were calling home for the first five days of our Italian sojourn, so we planned to explore the village and have dinner before the return trip. But dark clouds threatening overhead as we made the drive and a TV on arrival coaxed us inside the bar.
My husband, daughter and I ordered a glass of the region’s white wine, marvelled at the beauty and athleticism on screen and chatted in broken English/Italian to Alessandro at the bar (he wasn’t either Lucia or Maria) when suddenly a heart-stopping, loud bang stopped all speech and marvelling.
A top shelf bottle of champagne exploded so violently it could have been mistaken for a gun shot. (If I knew what that sounded like)
I am not familiar with any Italian swear words, but I can swear that all the Italians in the Lucia and Maria started rolling them out and in rapid succession, as a clap of thunder then hit and dipped the bar into darkness, just as as yet another bottle of champagne erupted.
Of course by the time the safety switch was flicked, the rain was dumping and we had no option but to order another glass of wine.
As hubby was doing that, a guy and his mate, who had rushed in to escape the wet, exclaimed, “Hey! What are you doing here?”
Incredibly one of the soggy arrivals was a bloke my husband swam with back home in Brisbane.
This excited exchange was overheard by a woman, who had also rushed in out of the rain and was ordering a drink at the bar.
“I’m from Brisbane as well,’ she enthused.
In turn we discovered, her husband’s cousin is the rowing coach that guided our daughter (still sipping her wine at the bar) to state and Head of River titles.
So naturally there was no reasonable option but to order another round of wine and a supplementary pizza while the Italians around us who couldn’t speak ‘Brissy’ screamed and swore in Italian as yet another bottle exploded.
When the rain finally cleared,(it took 4 glasses of wine) we discovered the astonishingly raw and rugged middle-aged beauty of the village which we are now affectionately calling San G.
(You try saying San Gimignano after 4 wines and some near-death experiences with exploding champagne bottles)
San G is an imposing but small, walled, medieval town that was once a stopping point for pilgrims on the way to the Vatican and Rome and where once there were 70 of the towers that can be seen for kilometres away, remain only 14.
It was a visit to such a historical village made only more amazing and memorable in the light and smells of a fresh, just finished Tuscan thunder storm.