Mamma Mia, Here I Go Again

DSC_0125_FotorThe adventures never seem to end this summer. One of the best things about returning this summer is that I get to enjoy the amazing people whom I worked so hard to befriend last summer. Two of those amazing people are PiGi (“pee-gee”) and Vale (“val-ay”). They’ve been long-time friends of Chiara and Francesco and they welcomed me into their home last year and into their camper this year. I’ve never been on a camper trip and now that I have I understand what I’ve been missing all these years. Campers are life changing. I ate through two books on our weekend trip sprawled out on the sofa with the breeze tickling my face as we cruised through the Tuscan countryside – that’s my kind of travel.DSC_0008_FotorDSC_0011_FotorDSC_0014_FotorDSC_0023_FotorThere was one purpose to this trip: the warthog festival. PiGi and Vale happened upon the festival a few years back and have made the trip to Sassetta every August ever since. I wasn’t quite sure what to anticipate with a warthog festival. Do we hunt the warthogs? Do we celebrate them? Would there be weapons involved? None of the above. We ate the warthogs. End of story. And warthogs are surprisingly good. I had mine in a sauce slathered over fresh tortellini while the others had it diced with roasted chestnuts. We topped off our feast with fried dough filled with Nutella. DSC_0027_FotorDSC_0033_FotorDSC_0031_FotorDSC_0036_FotorDSC_0037_FotorDSC_0039_FotorDSC_0042_FotorWe met up with two other friends along the way and ended our evening over spiked cups of tea in the camper. Between mouthfuls of apple cake we fell into easy conversation smoothed over by the rum in our tea and the warthog in our stomachs. There is a great contentment that comes with being able to hear the wind in the trees and the crickets in the bushes while holding a warm beverage at the close of day.DSC_0064_FotorWe took a tour of the tiny city in the morning before mass. Sassetta is home to some amazing street art and stray cats. We enjoyed both, though, truth be told, the stray kitten scored extra points for being cuddly. I’m not even a cat person, but kittens are in a league of their own.DSC_0045_FotorDSC_0071_FotorDSC_0050_FotorThe infamous warthog.DSC_0079_FotorDSC_0102_FotorDSC_0103_FotorDSC_0120_FotorOne of the best things about traveling via camper is being able to stop whenever you like for whatever strikes your fancy. We passed the Ponte del Diabolo (“Devil’s bridge”) and the name alone warranted a stop. DSC_0150_FotorDSC_0151_FotorDSC_0153_FotorDSC_0154_FotorDSC_0160_FotorThe highlight of the trip for me was the medieval festival we stopped in for in another Tuscan town. The drive to this mountain location was nothing short of extraordinary – as in, it was extraordinary that we made it there in one piece. The Italian roads are notoriously small and their drivers notoriously non-rule-abiding. Despite the adrenaline rush on the way there, this festival charmed with its costumed residents, rustic food, and rhythmic nighttime drums. Most all the women were clad in straw floral headbands and so we joined in the fun and had ourselves a great evening back in time.DSC_0176_FotorDSC_0183_FotorDSC_0218_FotorDSC_0222_FotorDSC_0224_FotorDSC_0231_FotorDSC_0232_FotorDSC_0240_FotorDSC_0250_FotorDSC_0282_FotorOur last stop was to a fortress surrounded by a moat en route back to Brescia. Though short and sweet, this stop involved gelato and that’s always a win in my books. The food was certainly a highlight for me this camper trip. Whether we were enjoying authentic festival food or a meat and cheese spread in the camper, we always ate more than our fill and managed to make room for Nutella or cake afterwards to seal the deal.DSC_0303_FotorDSC_0327_FotorDSC_0323_FotorDSC_0336_FotorDSC_0344_FotorI’m very grateful for PiGi, Vale, and Francesco who made such amazing travel companions on this Tuscan road trip – camper style. The staple point of every leg of the journey was the amazing ABBA playlist PiGi put on full-blast from the front seat. There’s nothing like ABBA, good friends, and the open road to make a girl’s weekend. DSC_0380_Fotor


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