As we say Arrivederci 2021 and Ciao 2022, we reflect here on our top highlights of this past year, and look forward with anticipation to a few experiences that are in the calendar as we welcome in the new year.
2021 sure was a year of digging deep and embracing whatever energy and spirit you could get your hands on to get on with living life.
With our local tours in a stop-start mode and international travel still only the domain of few, we made the decision in the middle of 2021 to leave Australia for 12 months to follow our hearts and our dream to live in Italy. We’re now 3 months in and life couldn’t be better.
In no particular order, our top 5 highlights for the past year have been:
1. Our Local tours. Keeping the spirit alive.
Sharing a slice of Italy at home on our local tours of Bright and Daylesford was a a highlight in the first half of 2021. Being able to connect with our guests and share amazing riding, food, wine and a sense of the local community in these two great regions of Victoria, meant that we could step back into our work, which we love, and embrace the spirit of all things Italian with many who share our passion. Salute to all of you who joined us and for helping keep the spirit alive.
2. 12 months in Italy. Following our dream.
It has always been our dream to spend 12 months in Italy – to live through every season in one village and to experience all that each different season brings. Making the decision in June that this was to be the year, was both liberating and nerve racking all at once. In the midst of so much uncertainty, we knew it was a courageous move, but for us, it just felt right – it was about getting on with life and business. No questions about what might have been or thoughts of ‘we can always do it next year’ – we took the leap of faith and here we are, living our dream.
3. L’eroica 2021. A Long Day on the Long Course.
The L’eroica long course has always been on the bike bucket list to ride at some point and what a surprise it was to end up riding it in 2021. With a less than ideal preparation, the decision to take on the long course was confirmed the evening before over a beer with Matteo. An early start and superb conditions saw us reach the southern most part of the course with somewhat relevant ease. However the 2nd half of the course was another story with plenty of focus required to keep rolling. A fairly long day in the saddle but what an experience, it was utterly exhausting but absolutely beautiful and one which will be impossible to forget. To read the full story of the 2021 edition click here.
4. Life in a Tuscan village. The beauty of slowing down.
Life in a Tuscan village. The beauty of slowing down.
Gaiole in Chianti is a small village in Tuscany, made famous by L’Eroica and the place we call home. We’d only ever experienced the hustle and bustle of summer life here and the magic of L’Eroica, and weren’t quite sure what to expect of late Autumn and Winter in the village. Well, what a delight it’s been taking in the changing colours, appreciating that everything here takes time, and enjoying days of cooking and passing away the hours over lunch with nonna Elena. If there’s one thing that life in our little village has taught us this year, it’s that there is beauty in allowing the time for things to happen slowly.
5. Two weeks in Puglia. An ideal getaway.
When we realised we were leaving a Melbourne winter and coming to Italy at the end of Autumn, we knew we’d need a short break in the sun before winter set in – and our obvious choice was Puglia. While deepening our experiences of this beautiful region for our tours was always a priority, it was really nice to immerse into the cities, towns and seaside villages in which we are usually working, to enjoy them on our own time. While our days swimming and soaking up the sun were few, the joy of eating Puglian seafood every other day and being in some of our favourite places with few tourists around, made for the ideal pre-Winter getaway.
As we welcome in 2022, we look forward to the adventures, the magic and the surprise that travel in Italy brings – not only for ourselves but with so many of our wonderful guests who will be joining us on tour. Yes, there is still uncertainty (as there always is, covid or no covid) but it’s those who follow their hearts that will get to enjoy the magic of Italy in 2022 – and without the crowds.
We’ll be experiencing some of our highlights quite early in 2022 and here we share just a few:
1. Recommencing our Italian tours.
With the new year, comes new hope and optimism, and this is strongest when we realise that we’ll be back running our Italian tours in 2022.
Nothing brings us more joy than to plan for our 10 tours across 6 regions of Italy, and the thought that we’ll be once again sharing the magic of amazing riding, food, wine and culture with all who join us.
2. Salumi making in a Tuscan mountain village.
Salumi making in Italy has been something we’ve wanted to do for many years. In January, we will be making salami and a range of other traditional products that come from the yearly tradition of “killing the pig”. Prosciutto and some of the other salumi we know, but there are others we don’t, so it is sure to be a great new learning experience. We’re not sure what to expect but what we do know is that it will be an authentic experience in a little Tuscan mountain town, and we feel privileged to be invited to take part with the locals.
3. Amazing Sicily
We will be launching a new Tour of Sicily for our 2023 season and to put the finishing touches on the itinerary, we’ll be spending a few weeks on this magical Island in the first part of the 2022 year. Hard work for sure, but essential to say the least.
Expect to see a balance of the seaside and hilltop towns, and an almost certain ascent of Mount Etna on the program.
4. An Italian Gran Fondo or Two
There are so many Gran Fondo’s in Italy and Damian is looking forward to taking on a few as part of his pre tour riding preparation. This will see us travelling to a few areas in the north of Italy, however we won’t need to travel too far for our first GF on the list in March, the Gran Fondo Strade Bianche which is in and around Siena.
Adding a Gran Fondo to the end of your tour is a great idea. You’ll have strong legs, see another part of this great country, and get to take home the souvenir jersey as well.
Click the link here to read our blog on some of the lesser known Gran Fondo’s that we will be aiming to ride.
5. The Unexpected that comes with Adventure
This January marks our 10 year anniversary of being in the business of cycling together. Ten years on and with so many experiences already enjoyed, the most wonderful thing is that our journey feels like it is only just beginning.
We are looking forward to all the unexpected experiences to come in 2022; of meeting new and different people, of seeing and immersing into new places, of tasting new flavours and then learning how to make them ourselves, and of being open to what comes on the adventure.
We love what we do, we love that we share the journey together and with so many great people, and that every year is a new adventure where we seek out new experiences – life doesn’t get much better than that.
Cin Cin to 2022!