Beyond the food and wine, Tuscany is known for its unbeatable landscapes. The Chianti region especially is famous for its picturesque little villages and rolling vineyards. Since we had a car at our disposal, I wanted to make time for a classic drive on the Chiantigiana, also known as the SS222, between Castellini and Greve.
I couldn’t wait to burn up my camera with gorgeous images. I had an idea in my mind of what we’d see, how perfect it would look, and where I would hang the lovely prints in my home.
Someone please check my head please, because I must have forgotten reality. Here’s a reminder (ahem, mostly for myself) – traveling with kids is never perfect, and things rarely turn out in the way you expect.
And that’s the heart of it, really.. expectations. Keep them low, and you will often be amazed. Set them high, and prepare for disappointment.
On the day of our wandering through Chianti, we had a late check out from our villa near Lucignano and at least six hours to kill before we could check in near Pistoia. I made sure the boys had lots of snacks to ward off the where-are-we-going?-are-we-there-yet?-this-is-SO-boring broken record.
After getting turned around a few times, we made a left onto the infamous road. I could hardly wait! But, wait I did. And wait, and wait some more. My framed print never went from dream to reality.In some places, the trees along the road were so thick, one couldn’t see the beauty beyond. In other places, the sun beat down in such a way that the light was too harsh to capture anything worth remembering. Not only that, the road was dangerously narrow and offered very few places to pull over.
And try as we may, we could not find this postcard picture.
Allllll the guidebooks tell you how charming Greve is. And maybe they’re right.. except on Saturday mornings in August.
The main piazza was drowning in vendors and visitors. Yes, the produce was gorgeous. Yes, the cheese stunk to high heaven. Yes, the shops were quaint. But, it was difficult to enjoy the experience while suffocating from all the hype. It’s hard to love a place when you’re being burnt to a crisp under the scorching sun, you can’t find a bathroom, and you pay through the nose for ice cream that’s worse than Walmart brand.
Even the punto panoramico was lame, and I’m always a sucker for a nice view.
Gah – what bum luck.
Well, am I saying that you should skip Chianti in general and Greve in particular? Not exactly. Everyone’s tastes are different, and you might visit on a Tuesday in May and love it to pieces. Perhaps it’s magical at sunset when the light is softer and you’re not slathered in sunscreen.
Or maybe you’re super extroverted and savor being lost in a crowd.. in which case, what are you doing in backwoods Greve? Get thee to Florence!
As long as you remember to keep your expectations low (hello, note to self!) and focus on what’s really important (time together as a family, for starters), you’ll always make memories… no matter where you go.
Your turn – have you gone wild with anticipation before traveling to a particular place? What did you learn from the experience?This post is part of Our Tuscan Family Adventure: Two Weeks of History, Culture, Food, and Fun in Italy series. Click on the link to view our bucket list and recaps of each excursion!