What do you get when you bring 8 couples who love each other from Camp Aspen to Italy for a little Summer pre-game to BIKE the hills in Tuscany, EAT the freshest pasta, DRINK the local vino and SLEEP in Castles fit for kings and queens? Drum roll please… You get 16 people who love each other EVEN more filled with gratitude for the opportunity to be together in this magical place. And by fulfilling Duvine’s 4 requisites Bike, Eat, Drink, Sleep, we made Andy Levine proud and he certainly went above and beyond to make us proud of Duvine bike adventures. With a little help from our most magnificent guides, Davide, Marco, and Arien, we were able to dodge just a few bullets like keeping track of Michael who had rocket butt, calamity Al with some clip-out issues and Davitt who needed way more butt butter. No one on this trip was happier on his ride than smart-ass Scott who ordered his very own electric bike…that not only pissed off slow and steady Nancy but was the envy of all. The riding was truly spectacular with routes featuring long vistas over fields of wheat, sunflowers, lavender, poppies and dense oak forests. On one day, we pedaled through the walled Buonconvento on the way to the Abbey of Monte Oliveto where we stopped to see and hear the stories of its unique renaissance fresco cycle. Then the landscape opened up as we rode along the bare ridges of the Crete Senesi, one of the most photographed roads in the world where I stopped to take one of all the herded sheep under one tree! Awww… then there was the ride through the hills and onto the refined city of Siena. This city is like an open-air museum of Gothic architecture. We walked to a favorite local lunch through the square of the main piazza where they hold the traditional Palio, a thrilling bareback horse race held twice a year on July 2 and August 16. Ten horses and riders, bareback and dressed in the appropriate colors, represent ten of the seventeen contrade, or city wards. I wish I were there to see this with the thousands of spectators! NOT. Eating in Italy is my absolute favorite and we did plenty of it thanks to our very own Amnon who makes sure we have everything on every menu to taste and devour. As you can see from Joe’s open shirt while devouring thirst quenching watermelon, it was HOT in Italy this week. Temps were almost in the 90’s so we needed to keep hydrated and no better way to do that then indulging at lunch in Montalcino during our barrel tasting at the winery of our hotel’s top Brunello vintages. What a treat. Interesting tidbit, I noticed while riding through the vineyards that they have rose bushes adorned in the line of grapes…and that’s because if they have a bug…the bug will eat the bushes first before tackling the grapes. So smart. But even smarter was the Ferragamo family who bought and painstakingly restored the Castiglion del Bosco where we stayed for 3 nights in perfect villa luxury set against the picturesque backdrop of the Val d’Orcia… with a golf course yet. So we lost the guys for just an afternoon. But we were busy anyway planning our farewell dinner and (table)dancing at the villa. Actually, our guides turned into chefs and party planners while we were the true guests in paradise sans the hostess gifts! It was our “last supper” and the very last of the celebrations for sherry’s 60th with Joe at the helm. The experience may be unsurpassable but the friendships are everlasting. A good time was had by all under the Tuscan sun. A reunion trip is in order.