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Willie and Sheila's European Adventure Part 7

Tour busing and wine tasting, then one of the scariest drives I ever experienced in my life

By Willie Qui??ones, Contributing Writer
Published on LatinoLA: June 20, 2014

Willie and Sheila's European Adventure Part 7

Hello all,

We are safe in our hotel in the Med coastal town of La Spezia which is the jumping off point to five seaside villages jointly called Cinque Terre. Tomorrow we will take the train that runs the route to all five in a row. However the drive here was one of the scariest I ever experienced in my life and even now it makes me scared inside just thinking of it.

First though: Yesterday we were in Siena in the gorgeous area of Tuscany. We spent two days there as we explored the lovely old town with its huge square and very ornate Duomo (church). The town center is very small so there is not much to see besides those two things. The next day I chickened out driving to explore many of the medieval towns in the area because Tuscany is nothing but hills. With a stick shift and the continuing rain I dreaded taking unnecessary chances. So instead I booked us a guided tour that picked us up in Siena and took us to the hilltop castle towns of Gimignano and Monteriggioni plus a wine tasting in one of the numerous wineries in the Chianti area. The local Chianti is good stuff but again...very pricey.

The whole area is lovely with immense rolling hills full of fields of grapevines and olive groves, the two main local products. I was more than happy to have someone drive us around for a change especially since we got pretty buzzed from the wines we tasted. We were on a big modern air-conditioned bus with an expert driver that could back-up a bus for miles without breaking a sweat and a great guide that explained all we were seeing.

Today we set out for La Spezia and since it was only a two-hour jaunt we decided to visit a couple of places along the way. The first was another hilltop village/castle named Volterre, then perhaps a short stop to view the famous Leaning Tower of Pisa before continuing on to our final destination. The town of Volterre is colorful and worth seeing as usual but it was a bitch driving the hills and winding roads especially in the wet weather. But that is the main reason to visit Tuscany. The vistas of rolling hills go on for days with row after row of vineyards and olive lush and green, especially with the constant rain.

Now comes the scary part. After we left the town of Volterre we started on the road to Pisa but after a short distance we discovered the road was closed. The GPS kept trying to take us to the same closed route no matter what we tried so we kept going in damn circles up and down the narrow roads. Finally I asked Sheila to punch in a town in a different direction to get us off the damn high hill we were on. Finally Chatty Cathy (our name for the GPS) took us in a different direction.

We went down, down, down towards the coast and almost made it there. Inexplicably the GPS took us into this old village and before we knew we were on a narrow winding cobblestone street where we could barely fit let alone turn. On one of the turns it was so tight we didn't fit. I went back and forth and back and forth but we were stuck! Finally thanks to God we were able to get loose and got the hell out of there.

But not without scraping the heck out of the side and front bumpers.

At last, we got unstuck. I thought we were going to be stuck there forever or until Enterprise sent someone to un-stick us. I still don't know how they could have found us or how we were going to get out of the car to even call someone. Man I'm shaking just telling about it!

But as I said on an earlier note, God watches out for fools and old people and I'm certainly both of those. So he sent a lightning bolt or one of his angels to help us out of that tight jam. Whew! Five minutes after that we hit a four-lane highway. I told Sheila, "The hell with Pisa, let's get to our next hotel as quickly as possible so I can compose myself and try to stop my knees from shaking!"

To be continued...WQ

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