It was Thursday and almost the entire school had signed up for this walk in the Balze, a famous area of landscape near San Giovanni Valdarno that’s been the inspiration for many painters.

We met and left in separate cars with Ed helping out by driving one of the schools cars.  As we started the ride he informed us that he’d never really drove in Italy and if we had any advice don’t hesitate to tell him.   So reassuring!

Then as we hit the first roundabout the covering for the gearshift came right off.  We probably should have been more concerned but it felt like something right out of the three stooges.  We all laughed until we were crying even before he managed to get it back on and each time it came off, which was pretty often, we were roaring again.

Once we stopped laughing we were off to see the scenery.  The crags or balze are really quite beautiful.  After walking out to see them Rossana told us some information about the region and the artwork created in/from it.

Then it was back to the car to drive to a little hill town with a view nearby.  There were of course more fits of laughter but thankfully we arrived just fine behind the others.

Taka, Miki, Alex, Jennie, Me, and Angela

the seminaries

the seminaries

While we were admiring the view and listening to Rossana we noticed some local boys playing nearby.  They were running after each other with toy guns and later when we all huddled together for a group photo they took the opportunity to aim at us.

We walked through town, stopped for drinks and photo ops and then made our way back to SGV laughing and talking the whole way.  It was one of those short but especially sweet trips where everyone got to know each other a little better.

That night Alex, Aneja, and I went back to where we had first met, the restaurant across the river called Las Vegas.  It felt like we were so different from who we were three weeks ago and we had become such great friends we were sad to say goodbye.


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