them in the heartland of Tuscany. I never would have visited Italy if it weren’t for them, and I’m so glad that I did. It reignited my love for that country, and the three days we had together in the Tuscan countryside, tasting wines, eating delicious food, cruising the winding hillside roads and laughing late into the night over shots of vinsanto dipped with sweet crumbly cantucci was a memory I will never forget. True wine connoisseurs, every day started the same - with a morning walk through the golden countryside followed by a short drive to a private wine tasting. We visited at least two wineries a day, quaffing and sipping our way across the Chianti Classico region. I’ve never been a big fan of Chianti, but this was unlike anything I’ve ever tried before - 100% true San Giovani grapes, crafted in thousand year old vineyards with the utmost care and adherence to tradition. Everything from the classico to the reserva had such a diversity of notes and different flavors. It was an incredible variety of the powerful and subtle, sweet and strong, feminine and masculine - tobacco, red fruit, oak, black berries, meat,
raisins, earth, vanilla - every glass had its own nose, flavored with the scents of the soil and surrounding terra. The softness of the tannins, a lingering flavor that just gets stronger and stronger the longer it sits on the back of your tongue, the acidity and color of each taste. Everything was dissected and discovered with each slow sip. My family doesn’t mess around when it comes to drinking. They were on a mission and I was just along for the ride. I think I learned more about wine in three days of tastings across the Tuscan countryside than most do in a lifetime. In the afternoons we noshed on Picci, a pasta made from thick spaghetti noodles exclusive to this region sautéed in a sauce of mushrooms and wild boar sausage, and sipped dark strong cappuccinos to finish out the meal. It was a week of pure indulgence in the idyllic setting of rolling green hills and picturesque wine country, and our time together flew by in a swirl of ruby lipped bliss. Before long I was hugging and kissing them goodbye at the train station in Siena, grateful for all they had done for me and sad to be saying goodbye. I love my family for all that they are, and every day I wake up thankful for having their love and support in my life. Until we meet again, thank you for taking care of this wandering traveler before his journeys end.
There's few things in this life as valuable and important as family. No matter where you are or what you’re doing in this world, they will always be there for you and have your best interests at heart. Being on the road these past twelve months has opened my eyes to the strength and importance of that bond. Seeing cultures all across the Earth, no matter how different or diverse, cherish that one universal trait of being human. I’ve been incredibly blessed in having the family that I do - supportive, caring, resilient and true. It’s the one thing I miss most as my travels across the world take me from coast to coast. Luckily, they’re the type of people that enjoy travel themselves, and when I learned my aunt and uncle that I hadn’t seen in over two years were going to be on this side of the globe, I leapt at the opportunity to spend some quality time with