I have a lot of friends who are type As, most of whom live/thrive in New York. The topic sometimes comes up for discussion; what makes one a type A, who is and who is not a type A, is there a hierarchy within a group of type A friends, etc. I willingly admit that I used to wear my Manhattan-work in finance-Virgo-perfectionist hat most days. But as an aspiring type A- (maybe one day a B+), I try to stress less, do less, and relax more. I’m working on it. But, this week-long stay in Tuscany and the family holiday that followed had me putting on the type A hat plus the tight three piece suit that came with it. I felt a lot of pressure because this wasn’t a solo trip and I had other people to consider. For our group in Tuscany, I felt it necessary to have something planned for each day of the week even though I knew that everyone would be fine without all these activities. I put together the following optional excursions for people to choose from.
Monday: full day tour to San Gimignano and the Chianti region with lunch at Dario’s (the world famous butcher in Panzano) plus wine tasting/winery visit. Tuesday: a guided visit with olive oil and wine tasting at Castello del Trebbio. Wednesday: horseback riding through vineyards with a visit to a castle with wine tasting. Thursday: full day tour of Cinque Terre. Friday: full day tour to Siena and Montalcino.
I know, that’s a lot. But I started getting all the local vendors lined up and transportation scheduled, and I got excited and wanted everyone to have a good time. What if they got bored during the week? I worried. Once I put on the whole type A outfit I couldn’t take it off . By the way, with all the research I’ve done, I think I can probably plan a small destination wedding in Tuscany. But by doing this, I stressed myself out and slept very poorly for the weeks leading up to the trip. Of course Kevin, seeing me like that got upset and told me this was crazy. It’s supposed to be a fun holiday. We’re all adults and no one expects me to take care of them. But I didn’t listen and did what I felt I had to do. I planned everything, and nearly made myself sick from all the worrying and the stress.
So it came as a complete shock and surprise to both Kevin and me (and to Paula and all those who think of me as a type A) when Monday rolled around, and I decided NOT to do the Chianti tour. Did I specifically customize the tour to include the places that I wanted to visit? Yes. Was I looking forward to meeting this famous butcher Dario and tasting his “Chianti sushi?” Yes (by the way, Dario calls his steak tartar Chianti sushi). But when I woke up Monday morning tired and puffy eyed, I thought about what I really wanted to do. I could drag myself to go and see and do because I HAVE to do EVERYTHING. Or I could spend the day with Yuka, whom I hadn’t seen in almost two years and was leaving that night for the Azores.
I thought I heard a small gasp when I said I decided to stay home.
Everyone except for Yuka and I went on the excursion so after we saw them off, the two of us had the entire villa to ourselves. The weather was picture perfect for a walk. We strolled out through the olive groves and down the hill. We even found an old church.
We stopped to pick some plums and fresh figs.
We then bravely went to the pool for a swim. It was a bit chilly and it took me at least 10 minutes to fully submerge. No, I wasn’t feeling too brave then. Once in the water though, it was heavenly.
Yuka made me a delicious pasta lunch and we opened a bottle of wine to enjoy. My meeting Yuka’s friend Tomo at a bar in Tokyo led to the two of us becoming friends in 1998 when I was living and working in Japan. We reminisced about the trips we took together and of all those nights the girls stayed over at my apartment after the trains stopped running. We were so young then. I never imagined Yuka moving to Paris and making a life there (she was the only one of my Japanese friends who didn’t speak any English, let alone French!) I never thought that one day she and I would be sitting in a kitchen in Tuscany sharing a lovely meal. We dreamed of our next meeting. Maybe at Tomo’s wedding in Sydney?
The group returned with fun stories about their day. How beautiful San Gimignano and its famous towers were. How they got to meet and take photos with Dario, the butcher. The steak tartar! The limoncello! Dario’s eyebrows! The wine! They went on. They brought back wild boar sausages with truffle oil and two cases of Chianti. Everyone seemed to have had a good day.
I waited for my heart to twinge. I waited for my brain to say “see what you missed out on?” But that feeling never came. I was grinning ear to ear. I’d had a wonderful day myself.
Dario Cecchini: Antica Macelleria Cecchini, Panzano, Chianti, Italy Tel +39 055 852020. No reservations taken for lunch, you can reserve a special steak dinner in advance (set menu).
Tuscany Car Tours: The local tour operator I used and can highly recommend for transfer services and tours around the region. Filippo and his guys took amazing care of us.