Sunday, June 1, 2008

The British Lady in My Dashboard . . .

The best way to guarantee that you have a GPS loaded in your rental car in Italy is to rent one before you arrive. Then when you pick up your car, it will most likely have one, as well. I took the advice of many people to use a GPS – life is so much easier supposedly.

Because I didn’t want any extra wires or risk losing my rented GPS, I reconfigured the one on the dash to English – a very proper British English Female Voice – and She and I got along just fine in the beginning only speaking when an upcoming turn was approaching, until she missed a very important one. She may have fallen asleep during the long ride up from Montalcino to Montagnana, I am not sure. Good thing I had my trusty Michelin map and more so, my trusty eyes not missing the sign to get to the small town where Il borgo is located. So I forgave her and we moved on.

The next day, I programmed in my trip to Badia a Passignano – one of the estates where the well known and fabulous Antinori Wines are produced. Not wanting to be directed to the Strada or highway – I selected the “shortest route” instead of the “fastest route” which I imagined would take me through the secondary roads. The secondary road was more like secondary roads to secondary roads. She took me through a back road so steep and so narrow that I had to twice use the button that automatically brings in the side view mirrors to pass through large stone walls on either side of me. Shortly after, as I was being grateful that no one was coming the other way, along came a pickup truck where I then had to back up a steep hill to let it pass. Five kilometers of this does not sound like much, but it felt good loosening my stuck grip from the wheel when I arrived back onto the main secondary road.

As for Badia a Passignano, it is a marvelous estate complete with a castle and small village – a cooking school – and the excellent Osteria di Passignano where you will be greeted by the gracious host Marcello Crini and enjoy one of the best dining experiences in Chianti paired with the excellent Chiantis of Antinori. Bravo.

As for the British Lady in my dashboard – like the rest of us, she is far from perfect and I am still glad to have her along.

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