Italy...I am really here

It's 02:43 and my mind is swirling in all of the incredible experiences I've had thus far and it's only day 3. I've been having difficulty sleeping through the night, partly because I'm still adjusting to the 9 hour difference and mainly because my being is on sensory overload and it's high time I start recording these experiences- it feels unfair to go another day without sharing the magic that continues to unfold around me.

Cucinare mi fa emozionare.

This tour was created by a chef and former 8 year resident of Florence, so naturally there's a huge focus on food, the local specialties, and education of the importance in protecting and honoring the resources that are harvested with success by maintaining the natural balance. The olive trees aren't shaken free of their fruit, they're gently raked and freed of their gifts. The vegetables are grown and sold with the highest quality kept in mind, matching the standards of the residents who prepare them...there are no pesticides in this region, very few mass produced commercial farms to feed the world. The terroir is protected and in exchange, it provides ample nutrients for it's inhabitants. There is a passion for what is local and historically preserved through tradition and stubborn pride. The bread of Tuscany does not contain any salt due to an excessive tax that was placed on its purchase by the Romans during the Medieval times. The Tuscans adapted and through boycott the tax was repealed, but the stubborn tradition is present in the regional bread. The lack of salt is certainly plentifully compensated in its culinary prowess of cured meats, soups, and meal preparations, but everything finds balance and the tannins of the regional wine resets the palette. It goes down far too easily for my American-cultured stray thoughts, "drinking wine every day must mean you're an alcoholic?" No, especially not here. The purity of product supports a guilt-free consumption of the finest ingredients in the world! To think a lot of these recipes were created by poor farmers who's resourcefulness kept the belly full and the smile wide. It makes you question the true sources of happiness...in context, its certainly not the flashy car nor the well-dressed friends. The simplicity is so rich here. Family is nearby if not living in the same house, everything is shared, and laughter is plentiful.

With this foundation I'll begin to share the day's experiences that feel far too surreal to believe I'm actually here... I hope you enjoy.