S: Sicily The Comic Mis-adventures of a Washington Wine Club September 2011
BC: TADAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!! | The End
FC: Who Knew Sicily Was an Island? (The Comic Misadventures of a Washington Wine Club) September 2011
1: This book is dedicated our Fearless Leader and Wine Goddess Extraordinaire, Erin Wahl and our Valiant Driver, Proud Papa and Chaperon, Rich Weight. The marathon of a Colline d'Italia Wine Tour is a charismatic event. It has everything. It has drama. It has competition. It has camaraderie. It has heroism. Every wine swilling member to the team can't dream of qualifying for entry to the Betty Ford Clinic, but he or she can dream of finishing a great bottle of little jesus. ... | One Tequila, Two Tequila, Three Tequila, Floor. | NC-17 NO ONE 17 & UNDER ADMITTED NC-17 is the classification that succeeded the now outdated X rating for movies. Wine Tours that receive this classification are considered too adult in nature for any children to observe. No one under 17 is allowed into the wine tour. It contains several of the themes found in an R rated movie in abundance. It is not meant to classify a film as obscene, merely as one that children should not see. The qualifications for an NC-17 movie are that it goes beyond the scope of an R rated movie in its portrayal of the themes in question.
2: How did I end up in Italy? According to my husband, 2011 is/was the Year of Lenore. For my 50th birthday I chose to celebrate all year. Family and friends got pulled into my celebration schedule, kicking off with a kick off surprise party, childlike fun in Disneyland, relaxing with girlfriends and dancing on the pool bar in Cabo, ATV adventures in Pismo, wine tasting in Paso Robles, and exploring the tide pools in Santa Cruz. Wine accompanied each event and then some. In a ‘reality sucks’ moment, I was forced to choose between the Italy-Greece cruise planned in October or the new furnace and A/C that we suddenly needed. Meantime, up in Washington, Julie’s husband Karim had his own version of a ‘reality sucks’ moment – having to choose between two awesome vacations. In a wine induced haze (thanks Julie!), Karim offered to let me go with Julie and use his pre-paid wine trip. Yeah! I covered airfare for Julie and I and off we flew. Going to Italy with Julie was a dream trip! She took charge and booked our hotel in Rome, our tours, and the plane to Sicily. All I had to do was show up with credit cards and my ATM card. For my family trips I plan everything for everyone: airfare, ground transportation, hotels, tours, dinner reservations, entertainment and prizes, and then make sure all 24 people get herded to the right place at the right time (whew!). So not having to ‘be in charge’ was a total treat. Going to Sicily was even better. We had the best, funnest, friendliest in our group , including our two expert guides. Poor ‘parents,’ it was now their job to make sure the ‘kids’ got to the right place at the right time. Sorry Mama and Papa for misbehaving now and then. Kicking up my heels like that was just too much fun to miss. Like expert parents you steered us gently to where we needed to be, letting us have fun along the way; you gave us parameters balanced with freedom; you corrected us gently and feed us wonderfully! But are parents supposed to indulge the kids with that much wine? These kids certainly are glad you did! Some of us even found a spiritual moment or two (or three) with Little Jesus. Life is made up of moments - moments you remember with joy or with sadness. This trip to Italy was full of joy! The only sadness is that it ended. While the year of Lenore is almost over, I am already planning for the future. Planning a trip (soon) to visit my new ‘family’ up in Washington, and also planning (and saving) for another amazing trip to Italy. Lenore
3: ITALIAN WINE TOUR LESSONS LEARNED ~ Seat-belts are for Sissies ~ No means Yes. ~ Red = Recommended/go faster. ~ Always consume massive amounts of prosecco before subjecting yourself as a passenger in Italy. ~ Said consumption should serve as a reasonable excuse for stopping the van. ~ Never, and I do mean never, believe Rich when he gives an Estimated Time of Arrival. ~ Not only is Sicily actually an ISLAND, it is also the hangnail of Italy! ~ Never, ever, ever, underestimate the driving ability of Rich even if it includes driving up & down stairs in a roundabout in a parking garage. ~ When walking the roads of Sicily – Italian men will stop their cars and try to give women pedestrians rides, Italian women will accelerate and aim their cars at American female pedestrians. ~ Bathrooms in Sicily are not for the faint of heart. ~ Re-toxification process is a must after any Detoxification period of more than 30 minutes, 15 minutes if temperature reaches 80 degrees or higher, 10 minutes if in a moving vehicle of any kind. ~ Wearing Teva flip-flops is tantamount to attempted murder/suicide; also they smell terrible after a day at a fish market. ~ Sweet and innocent looking Erin can utter this phrase: “Remember my name; you will be screaming it later” ~ Do not, under any circumstances attempt to look a Tanzanian in the eye, or open a running Washington machine in their presence. Especially if they are from Tunisia. ~ Never take lodging advice from Erin if the word “convent” is included. Ever. Trust me on this. ~ Never enter a convent after curfew. ~ Never voluntarily stay in a convent. ~ The only way to get Rich to stop the van is to talk about the need for personal feminine cleaning solutions that come in a bottle (not bag). ~ If Rich says you have 20 minutes to explore a town, drop the zero to find out exactly how long you really have. ~ Never, ever, ever try to sell Bobby an umbrella; especially more than once. ~ Never, ever, ever, ever under any circumstances buy heavy things in Italy unless you have taken out a second mortgage; preferably on your neighbors house. ~ We can sleep when we are dead. ~ Sister wives give the best foot massages. ~ Think twice before drinking vino from a 5 liter container; especially if provided by a horse. Or a model. ~ Siracusa will never be the same sine the YMCA came to town; the same is true for Austrians, Germans and Sicilian nuns. ~ My sweet and amazing friends will go far, far out of their way to find great gluten free food – Thank you! ~ Be very careful when asking hotel clerks for night life suggestions while in Roma. ~ Male cab drivers speak English when women travel without a man; yet male cab drivers charge women far less cab fare ~when they are traveling with a man. ~ Not much beats a massage on the beach in Cefalu. ~ We all NEED an Ipad. ~ Never travel without a good camera, and if you do bring any kind of camera, remember to check the date stamp settings, unless of course it really is January 2008.
4: THE ADVENTURES OF TRAVEL TO ITALY– According to Tracy A wise friend of mine once said “You can’t say you drank all day if you didn’t start in the morning.” It just so happened that Joanie coined that phrase at 6:00 a.m. at the Sea-Tac airport. Naturally, we found an open bar and started the day properly which caused us to nearly miss the last call for our first flight. I would come to learn another phrase “drunk people make great choices.” Our layover was in Philadelphia. Guess what? They have bars at that airport too. Seriously?! Last call to board our flight again?! Just moments after the plane began to take off, it suddenly came to a stop; alleged mechanical failure. Two hours in a hot, non-moving airplane was torture - they weren't even serving alcohol! I'm sure the rowdy crowd would have woken Joanie, even if I had not pulled her hair. As the temperature in the plane rose and the natives grew more restless, armed officers boarded the plane and removed a passenger from the back row; which turned out to be a very effective way to silence an airplane. We were only too delighted to change planes. Guess what they have at this end of the airport? A Wine Bar! We did NOT miss the last call to board this next flight several hours later, likely because at least half of the passengers were in the wine bar with us until we closed it down. It was this rowdy, wine drinking bunch that cheered when the plane finally did hit the friendly skies, and again when it landed in Rome. Roma, oh beautiful Roma. I expected to enjoy the beautiful drive to the hotel. I don't think either of us noticed the scenery in the death-defying ride. I am pretty sure the Oh Shit handles disintegrated into our hands. Little did we know that when a driver is careening down the center lane of the highway, while reading mail and talking on the phone, this would be one of the least eventful rides we would take. A cab driver in Rome with road rage cutting off an ambulance and a woman driving a scooter while holding a baby & smoking - now that's a real "adventure." Our adventure continued by meeting Julie, Lenore and Bobby at our hotel. We enjoyed a nice dinner and I had the opportunity to become well acquainted with the chef. The next morning, the rebellious and hung-over children headed back to the airport to begin the wine tour adventure in Sicily. A good time was had by all, save the initial panic of realizing Julie’s passport was back at the hotel! Julie was able to make the flight without even being summoned by the last call warning Joanie and I had become so familiar with!!! Erin and Rich, our thoughtful tour guides, parents and fine wine connoisseurs were kind enough to pick us up at the airport, it only took a 300 point turn to get our rental van out of the parking lot. The drive from the parking lot to Agriturismo Galea made our first ride in the city seem rather anti-climactic. Even Americans drive like they are insane when in Italy. It took copious amounts of vino bianco, a fully clothed swim in the rain and a shower to lower my adrenaline level. WHAT I LEARNED ABOUT WINE ON MY TRIP TO ITALY Un altra por favore. Yes. Drink it. Lots of it. When you run out, drink Little Jesus. When you run out of Little Jesus, Drink Prosecco. If that fails there is rum, gin and vodka; all best if enjoyed together. Now that the hangover is finally wearing off, and they rhythm of daily life has returned, I will forever be enamored with memories of our vacation. I appreciate all of you for sharing your lives with me. I look forward Wine Tour Part 2 (we should consider selling the movie rights to replenish our travel funds). One more thing. I will make sure I don't have a working cell phone next time too :) ~Tracy
6: Riposto Agriturismo Galea Strada 4 SPI - II N. 16 N. 21 95018 Riposto (CT) Italia GPS Latitude 37.715705 Longitude 15.205561
7: Agriturismo Galea...The gang arrives with frayed nerves as a result of Mr. Weight's Chauffeur Service escapades | The only acceptable remedy? - Vino Bianco | Hey, why don't we take our wine down by the pool?
10: Catania - Fish Market
11: You can't say you drank all day if you didn't start in the morning... | QUICK! Hand me a camera. Erin's in the bathroom
12: Catania Fish Market | Rain got you down? Answer: p r o s e c c o
13: Swordfish | Fish Market during business hours | Not swordfish | You haven't lived until you've walked in open toed shoes through a fish market in a rain storm. And no, you do NOT want to keep your shoes.
15: OUTIS - translates to "Nobody." Sicily's indigenous grape Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Cappuccio grow on the steep slopes of Sicily's Mount Etna. | Winemaker: Ciro Biondi
16: Aci Trezza | Fabulous seafood lunch by the sea after one of Rich's famous, and death defying van rides following construction trucks up and down narrow "roads."
18: No One told us Bobby was a thespian | TAORMINA
19: No One told us Sicily was an Island | We actually drove down a flight of curved stairs to get to this beautiful hilltop town and Greek theater!
20: ETNA WINE Azienda Agricola Farm House - Agriturismo - Landgut S.S. 120 Km. 191+900 95012 Passopisciaro Castiglinoe Di Sicilia | Beautiful Artwork, Grapes, and really, really old wine making stuff...
21: Lenore attempting to enter a very large chestnut wine barrel through a very small opening. Somehow we always knew she was the brave one in the group.
22: Caltagirone Citta' d' arte
23: Riddle me this ~ how will you get your ceramics home?
24: A G R I G ENTO | Temple of the Concordia | The Happy Family at Tempio di Giunone - The Temple of Juno
25: The Sister Wives... | ...commence their search for one of the 85% of the "natural" Italian man
26: Agrigento Valley of the Temples
28: Welcome ~Benvento
32: Siracusa | talented wait staff | Satiated tourists | The lovely couple (s)
33: Captivated by the sea
34: This is what confidence looks like: | No one can resist the prosecco Roadside cafe in Butera. Mere moments before the kiddies were instructed to go to the van and open more prosecco or little jesus. | All it takes is a ticket to Santa Croce Camerina.
35: Van Shenanigans? Yes Please. Foot massages, Little Jesus, and harassing the parents are just part of the services we offer. Care to place a bet on how long Rich will have gotten us lost en route to Catania? Bets placed at 4:11 p.m. as follows: Julie 5:25 p.m. Lenore 5:35 p.m. Bobby 6:15 p.m. Joanie 6:37 p.m. Tracy 6:44 p.m. Anyone lucid enough to know who won? | Undoubtedly, this cactus art was meant for us.
36: Rich: What's more impressive than 2000 year old Roman Ruins? Anonymous Smart Ass: 6000 year old Greek Ruins!
38: Casina di Grotta di Ferro Strada Provinciale 60 Km 13 Contrada Torre Mastro, 97100 Ragusa 36 50' 55" North, 14 34' 51" East
39: and Drinking Heavily... | The wives show off their bibs, the cooks celebrate their creations, the "kids" continue to make their parents proud........followed by Nasty Attitude and ...
40: Erin re-thinks her choice of traveling companions and choice of beverage. Rich learns to eat his Vegetables, The kids are dangerously close to being emancipated.
41: Special Pizza Chef dazzles us with his cooking on and off the dance floor.
43: Lunch after Paolo Cali's winery tour
44: Harvest at the Winery of Paolo Cali
45: Paolo Cali www.vinicali.it Vittoria, Sicily, Italy
46: Who doesn't love the beach? Marina di Ragusa
47: Question: How many excuses does a person need to give to convince Rich to stop the van and let us out to play? Answer: One.million.6 Hint: Nothing works quite so well as an immediate hygiene need resulting in a request to stop at the
48: The kids admire the pretty town, meet artists, until... | "...Finish those drinks, go get the girls and get your asses in the van right now!!!" - Love Dad | Buccheri
50: Pantalica ~ Necropolis The Necropolis of Pantalica Sicily is especially desirable in 90+ degree weather and contains over 5000 tombs dating from the 13th to the 7th centuries BC. Pantalica is situated in the valleys of the rivers Anapo and Calcinara, between the towns of Ferla and Sortino in south-eastern Sicily. Together with the city of Syracuse, Pantalica is listed as "Syracuse and the Rocky Necropolis of Pantalica" on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Also knows as an ideal picnic stop for the Colline d’Italia wine club of the 21st Century. | Anonymous Sister Wife: "This is not the right way back to the parents". Anonymous Smart Ass: "It absolutely fucking is too the right way"! And this after a navigational genius with an innate sense of direction got us hopefully lost trying to leave Riposto by foot. In scorching temperatures.
51: Wine swilling explorers set off for a new De-Toxication then Re-Toxication adventure. Picnic lunch in a Necropolis? Yes.
52: Wine makes feet hot. If only there were some sort of foot washing station.
54: The Last Supper
55: It really is too bad just one more person didn't offer to sell Bobby an umbrella. | Lenore's fashion show left us all a little jealous! | Joanie decides it's time to take the party up a notch | The End.......................................or is it?
56: and that's how you know... | The kids set out to explore without the aid of their parents...this is a little bit of their story.
57: Roma, beautiful Roma
59: Churches in Roma otherwise known as Oh. My. God.
61: Our Blessed Mother
62: Roma | Fountains
64: Roma. | History at it's finest.
66: Joanie Meets an Italian-Stallion | Julie & Lenore's Roman Adventures made possible by the attractive, Italian, wine-serving, tour guide | Finally, Bobby is on his knees | Very unusual sight | Bobby defends Tracy's honor
67: Finally! A chef to flirt with Bobby! | What's not to love about Roma? Amazing food, markets and scenery, even the doggie is in heaven!
69: There is no shortage of photo opportunities in Italia
71: These people really love their disco - The Blasphemers circa 2011
72: The Actual Tour that "they" don't want you to know about... | Sicily - September 2011 | Know why they are smiling? Because they already picked out our wine-tour uniforms...
73: Welcome to the 3rd Race at the Honeymoon is Over Downs! They're at the gate, and they're off! Jumping out of the lead is ROMANCE & AFFECTION with DOMESTIC BLISS in close behind It’s ROMANCE & AFFECTION and DOMESTIC BLISS, here comes MARRIAGE VOWS, followed by IMMEDIATE CHILD ROMANCE & AFFECTION falling off quickly, MORTGAGED UP THE ASS over taking DOMESTIC BLISS and here comes NASTY ATTIDUE, followed by MORE CHILDREN and DRINKING HEAVILY Coming out of the back stretch is DRINKING HEAVILY moving out in front of MORGAGED UP THE ASS but coming up strong on the outside is CREDIT IN SHAMBLES It’s CREDIT IN SHAMBLES, followed by I DON’T GIVE A SHIT, NASTY ATTITUDE and UP YOURS KEEP UP YOURS KEEP challenging for second going into the clubhouse turn Passing on the rail is I DON’T GIVE A SHIT taking the lead. Followed by the FUCKING HOUSE, YOU COOK LIKE SHIT and I FUCKED YOUR BROTHER Here they come, spinning out of the turn, I DON’T GIVE A SHIT still in front. UP YOURS KEEP challenging for the lead UP YOURS KEEP and I DON’T GIVE A SHIT neck and neck And .. down the stretch they come UP YOURS KEEP is pulling away from I DON’T GIVE A SHIT by a length Coming on strong is I AM OUTTA HERE and passing the pack is THE FUCKING HOUSE And at the wire its UP YOURS KEEP - THE FUCKING HOUSE, I DON’T GIVE A SHIT and I AM OUTTA HERE!!!
74: View of the West Wing of the "Agriturismo" | Agriturismo Galea is beautiful! Even their sign is beautiful! We had plenty of time to gaze at it's majestic glory from the well- ventilated "agriturismo" ... conveniently located across the street! Note to the wise: read your travel itineraries from Colline d'Italia very carefully!! Pay extra close attention to the fine print | The authentic Sicilian entry on the left.. indigenous skylights over sleeping quarters
75: Rich has a plan to salvage the first day of the "wine tour" A fresh bottle of 2 buck chuck from his suitcase, soon to be known as the "vineyard" | ...and it just might work | The desperate get on-line and order their own wine...Thank God Costco delivers to Sicily
76: The wine has softened the blow - only bathing option on day one is swimming in the rain... ...Rich's plan appears to be working
77: Basic Hygiene & accommodations | BIDETS Not just for feet anymore!!!
78: Laundry Day made easier by the modern day convenience of a rented bathtub...& vino bianco
79: "Kids, go out to the van, open some Prosecco or Little Jesus and wait for me, Papa will be there soon..." Love, Dad 120 SECONDS LATER "What the Hell are you kids doing?! You aren't allowed to have open bottles of alcohol out by the van, get over here" "You are all adopted." Not Dad.
80: Julie...the only one of us wise enough to try to escape... The gate into the new "agriturismo" gave her slivers, the endless reading about the mafia alarming...yet, it was the sight of the new "pool" (below) that sent her over the edge...
81: ...it is enough to make any sane person declare the tour complete and utter .... well : | How they all felt on the inside...
82: Expected Vineyard | Common Sicilian Vineyards | Expected Sicilian Hotel & Accouterments | Actual"hotel" owned and operated by the Cosa Nostra | Joanie introduces the Mafiosi to Smith & Wesson
83: ` | What Sicilians Really Eat
84: How they act in public...
85: How they really behave ...
86: RED really should mean STOP 1st accident in Sicily Courtesy of Rich Weight | The Policia were baffled, and quite impressed by their matching uniforms. | The Policia gave Rich a citation for endangering our lives in the "economy" car, Will you stop at nothing to save a buck ? | ...narrowly escaped Sicilian prison operated by Sicilian nuns & the Mafiosi when Bobby pulled this little stunt. | ...Thankfully they found Bobby a proper ride to the hospital and charged Rich's business credit card handsomely. Someone really should have told him that Sicily is an Island. | There was no convincing Rich that any road was unsafe for travel.
87: V O M I T O R I U M | GRAND OPENING SEPTEMBER 21, 2011 FOUNDER - BOBBY SADIN CATALIST - RICH WEIGHT & LITTLE JESUS
88: s | uncomfortable beds | Princess & the Pea? Good luck with that
89: Forced to provide our own entertainment in the dark and stormy night
90: reality | expectation
91: Anticipated Vineyard & Grapes | actual vineyard/wine tasting tasting room
92: Where have all the Penises Gone? Lyrics by: Sister Wives Productions Music by: Paulo Cali Rosato I will drink the wine while you lock the door. You show me yours and I’ll show you mine. Where is my uncut man? Where is his shiny gun? Where is my lovely ranger? Where have all the penises gone? I will uncork for you and you’ll decant for me. You show me yours and I’ll show you mine. Where is my John Wayne? Where is my great fig leaf? Where is my happy ending? Where have all the penises gone? I will swirl for you and you’ll spit for me. You show my yours and I’ll show you mine. Where is my vintage man? Where is his supple finish? Where is my chiseled bouquet? Where have all the penises gone?
93: Answer: At the direction of various popes, the penises were all removed and replaced with fig leaves. Unfortunately, the penises have all disappeared from the basement of the Vatican, which indicates that the world's first "naughty store" was actually created by ~ dare I say it... Catholics! | Yes, Joanie did ask.
94: Someone really should help Colline d'Italia select more suitable transportation for their guests | Beautiful thing about driving in Italy, there is no need for visibility. N O N E. | YOU'RE GOING THE WRONG WAY!!! | And at the wire its: Up Yours Keep The Fucking House, I Don't Give a Shit and I am Outta Here!
98: Tracy and Joanie spent the majority of the trip "learning" how to photograph themselves with an IPad | After enough failed attempts, the local Italian men felt sorry for them and took the pictures for them | Out-Takes Continued This group seems to lack focus when it is picture taking time! | When the Parents are away the kids will play. Bobby LOVES the statues in Roma, and proudly wears his new shirt everywhere | If you see this look, you have less than a minute to get in the van!
99: BLASPHEMY A ticket to Hell has never been funnier