While sitting around the dinner table, I spot some white umbrellas on a nearby hill and optimistically think that these umbrellas must mean that there is a degustation. I convince Gabe and Katherine to take our next day’s afternoon excursion past said umbrellas, and although it appears to be more of a private home than a vineyard offering wine tastings, our plan is to walk up to them and let me introduce Gabe, who can speak great Italian. We walk the front path as they all stare in our direction, and as soon as I get close enough, I ask the obvious question, “Do you speak English?” They respond with a confused no, and to introduce Gabe, I simply point at him and explain that he speaks Italian. Before long, we are talking with the family from the house and are soon invited inside by Frederica (the daughter) for tea, snacks, and popsicles. We sit in the kitchen of this recently remodeled beautiful Tuscan home and start learning about each other’s lives. Frederica is currently studying linguistics in Pisa, and as a result, her English is great, although she still prefers to speak Italian with Gabe. Using my Spanish, I am able to understand most of what is transpiring, but I have more difficulty participating save for small phrases now and then.
After about an hour and a half of getting to know each other, I look at the time and realize that we are late for dinner on the farm, and given that the farm is run by Germans on a strict schedule, we start mobilizing quickly. As Frederica is walking us out, she tells us the story of a past run-in with Ursula and Sigismund, and we are immediately able to relate to her description of the many cats, the house, and of course, the couple. Finally, at the very end of our visit, she invites us to use the pool later in the week. This invitation generates one of the largest smiles on all of our faces given the high afternoon temperatures.
We return to the farm about 10 minutes late for dinner and are concerned what Ursula will say. Gabe and I run right up to the dinner table while Katherine goes downstairs to freshen up. Ursula indicates that our tardiness is not a problem and even gives us permission to wash up quickly. But when we return to our room, we convince Katherine that we missed dinner, Ursula is angry with us, and we will need to figure out what we want to do for food. We continue with this ploy for about 5 minutes before we start laughing and explain that if we don’t go upstairs to dinner soon, we might in fact miss it all together. Katherine sighs not knowing what to do with us and we all make our way to dinner.
When the next afternoon rolls around, we all grab our bathing suits and towels and head back over to the beautiful house with the white umbrellas and swimming pool. Frederica is not there, but we say hi to the rest of the family, and find comfortable lounge chairs near the pool. The rest of the afternoon is spent jumping in and out of the water interspersed with sunbathing. We decide that this Tuscan lifestyle might be easier to become accustomed to than daily work in the vineyard.