Sunflower fields forever….the sunflowers are in full bloom in Italy. Fields and fields of huge sunflowers. They use them mainly for the oil. They are so beautiful…we can’t stop taking pictures of them!
Today we are visiting San Gimignano and Volterra (home of the vampires). Our first stop in San Gimignano was for lunch at a place called, Osteria del Carcere (I don’t think they have a website). It had about 4 tables downstairs and 4 tables upstairs. We ordered a scrumptious salad made with mixed greens, sliced apples, nuts and goat cheese, then a variety of pate, a saffron goat cheese bruschetta and a side of classic Tuscany white beans. We also ordered a local bottle of wine and when it arrived at our table, it had a glass oval-shaped bubble on top of it. The waiter turned the bottle sideways and wine decanted into the bubble…then he poured the bubble of wine into our glass. It was very cool. In fact, we thought it was so cool that we ended up buying one before we left. We had fun pouring our wine using this new tuscan toy as we ate and chatted with some people at the table next to us.
After lunch, we walked through the major squares of the town…there were quite a few tourists around. We took pictures, ate gelato and weaved our way through the back streets. We also did a lot of window shopping as there were boutiques lining the streets with various food, hand stitched aprons, kitchen towels, soaps, leather goods, paintings etc.
We spent a little more time than planned in San Gimignano which meant less time in Volterra. By the time we arrived in Volterra it was getting dark…so we rushed into the major square to take pictures. We briefly walked around the area and then looked for dinner. It seemed like there were a lot less tourists…and this town was smaller. We picked a restaurant with a table outside, perfect for people watching. We ordered a house pizza, a homemade pasta, salad. When we asked the waiter about which of two wines to order, he brought out a whole different bottle…we ended up loving it. It was a local bottle called Vallino delle Conche-it also had the glass decanter attached to it. Oh and we also indulged in a chocolate cake for dessert…
After dinner, we took a few more pictures and got back in the car for a long drive to the B&B. We did not run into any vampires but did see an ad on one of the bulletin boards that sure looked like a female vampire. When we got back, Giff was sitting on the bed and saw a black scorpion on the wall!!! Ummm….aren’t those things lethal? Giff managed to trap it in a glass and then wanted me to take pictures of it…I wanted that thing out of our room ASAP. We could see its venom being released from the stinger in the glass…it was not so happy to be caught. We went outside and threw it out of the glass…this was quite an episode being it was about 1AM.
We went to sleep with one eye open hoping that was the only scorpion in the room…
Published by Brandey Kabat
What I like: Dark chocolate, yoga, fresh squeezed juice, laughing, hiking, wine, travel, food, lush products, being warm, having long hair, the ritual of drinking something hot first thing in the morning…
What I don’t like: When people smell their fingers, pushing elevator buttons, confrontational situations, not being able to fall asleep quickly at bedtime…
Most random job ever: Plastic surgery consultant
As for my love life: I met my husband mid way through my junior year in college, as soon as I laid my eyes on him I was attracted to him. In fact, I made the first move which was a bit out of character but there was something about him…probably the fact that he was smokin’ hot!!
Where from and where to: I grew up in NY, went to college at The Ohio State University and then headed to CA after graduation. My boyfriend (Giff) and I had a map, a borrowed van and used stuff from his mom’s basement aka a vacuum, silverware, old Christmas ornaments etc., and about $1000 each. We thought it would be a good idea to head straight to CA since neither of us had been. Being we didn’t know anyone there nor did we have a job or job interviews set up or a place to live…I would say we did it the hard way! However with a bit of help from Giff’s mom who flew out to put us up in a hotel, bought me a suit for interviewing and co-signed a lease to get us a place to live we eventually found jobs and an apartment and have been in CA for 10 years.
Our story: After moving out to CA and living together for about 3 years we got engaged. He popped the question while down on one knee on the beach at sunset after we finished our picnic he had packed of bread, cheese, shrimp cocktail and wine. He even had the ring in a box that had a light shining down on it when opened so as it was getting dark, this amazing man was asking me to be his wife as he handed me a huge rock…Yes! Yes! Yes!
In 2005 we were married (I am biased but our wedding was absolutely amazing). By the end of 2005 we were new home owners. 2006-2009- we were both happily married, attached to our 3 cats and were focused on building our careers.
Giff and I got pregnant mid year 2009 with our first baby but what should have been one of the highlights of our life was soon distracted by the news I received at the doctor’s office.
The lump in my breast that had been dismissed the year before as nothing was now being diagnosed by a different doctor as breast cancer. Thankfully Giff is a persistent person and when we went in for our ultrasound (to hear our baby’s heartbeat) he brought up the request for testing to be done on the lump rather than dismissing it based on feeling it.
The going gets rough: Things began to move so quickly at that point, it was hard to breathe. I was 30, pregnant with my first child and going into surgery to remove breast cancer. I was about to go through what would be the worst year of my life. The plan had been discussed, we were going with the most aggressive regimen possible- double mastectomy, port surgically placed in my chest, chemotherapy, drug therapy and radiation. We also had to terminate the pregnancy. This cancer was estrogen positive and the hormones were actually feeding the cancer. That little angel whom was the cause of our going into the doctor saved my life.
Giff was my rock through every step…interviewing a team of the best doctors, memorizing which medicines I needed to take and when, driving me to chemotherapy and sitting next to me while I was so scared, telling me I was beautiful when I was bald, and so many other things…words cannot express. When you say your vows, in sickness and in health…you would never guess sickness of this magnitude at this age would be in the near future. In addition to this hardship, Giff’s dad died of a complicated prostate cancer the day we came home from my surgery. I could not hold my husband as he mourned for his dad because of the pain I was in from the mastectomy. How did Giff handle all of this pain at one time? How was he so strong for me? He is amazing. Giff’s dad was one of those people whom you naturally wanted to be around…his smile was contagious, his love for life was invigorating and he listened so intently when you talked in a conversation with him. He made you feel special. We think about him often and will miss him so much.
My family and friends were also by my side…my mom flying out from NY several times to help us with cooking and cleaning and holding my hand. It must be one of the most awful things in the world to watch your baby girl be diagnosed with breast cancer. My girlfriends also flew out to take care of me and help with anything they could. Other friends living closer would come by just to sit and talk or watch movies. There were so many cards, letters, flowers, cookies, and other gifts that came from all over the country. It’s amazing to have such great people in my life. In addition to my amazing circle of friends and family, there were the strangers with whom crossed our path. Whether it was a letter in the mail from a breast cancer survivor, the anesthesiologist who called Giff during my surgery crying happy tears that the cancer had not spread to my lymph nodes, or our fertility doctor who promised to watch over our frozen embryos as if they were her own. There were so many small gestures that made such a big impact on our lives.
Looking at the bright side: Thankfully this was caught in stage 1, had it been caught a year prior by the first doctor I had gone into about the lump, it may have been caught at stage 0. Please learn from my lesson…insist the lump be tested – a lump cannot be diagnosed by touch. They were able to cut all the cancer out and after I finish the entire regimen including a pill I take over the next 5 years, they said there is a 95% chance the cancer will never come back.
Our exciting future: We’ve decided to re-prioritize, we are taking 400 days starting February 7th of 2011 to travel the world! We will travel to new places, eat new foods, taste new wines and meet new people. We will focus on healing ourselves both physically and mentally. This will be one of the best years of our lives.
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One Reply to “Day 145 of 400: San Gimignano and Volterra – Italy”
I am surprised you slept at all. I know how Giff feels about bugs , in general. I would assume he hates spiders even more! It was amazing to see him catching it.