Visions of green hillsides and tiny, charming farmhouses fill our heads as we take off from the Florence airport in our small, yet extremely fuel-efficient, car (tiny snowflakes, tiny snowflakes dancing in the wind).
With the town of Siena set as our final destination in the Tom-Tom, we sit back and wait for our Tuscan moment of enchantment to begin (tiny snowflakes, tiny snowflakes becoming increasingly more).
Me: These snowflake signs are kind of funny, huh? It’s just a type of warning symbol with two giant snowflakes on it.
My travel companion from Chicago: Ya. What do they mean, exactly?
Me: I’m not certain. And what is with this other sign of a tire with – what are those chains? – on it?
My travel companion from Chicago: Huh. I don’t know. Maybe they get a lot of snow here during the winter.
Or maybe they get dumped on by the worst winter storm to hit the area in over 50 years (fluffy snowflakes, fluffy snowflakes sticking to the trees).
Me: Wow. There is quite a bit of traffic and it seems to be slowing down.
My Travel Companion from Chicago: Geez, the roads are kind of starting to get a little treacherous and this car was clearly not designed to drive in snow and ice.
And stop. And sit. And watch it snow (giant snowflakes forming piles in the forest and on the road).
Me: No way. People are pulling off to the side of the road and – what is that – putting chains on their tires? It’s like TOTALLY a blizzard or something.
My Travel Companion from Chicago: Ya think? Whoa. I hope we can get up this hill.
And we get up the hill and into the town of Siena with the wind and snow whipping us in the face and chilling us to the bone (horizontal whiteness stinging the eyes and slapping the face).
My Travel Companion from Chicago: This must be some freak storm or something. I’m sure it’ll pass and be over soon enough (wind howling and snow blowing all through the night).
We awake to clear skies (zero snowflakes falling).
But, excellent moments can be fleeting (tiny snowflakes, tiny snowflakes gently falling down).
My Travel Companion from Chicago: This will stop. We’ll still go out for our day of Tuscan countryside driving.
Me: Ya. No big deal. I think I see the sun trying to peek out from behind that giant, dark cloud mass.
Canadian Couple in love with Rick Steves in the Breakfast Room (sidenote: what is it with Rick Steves and Italy and American/Canadian travelers? He is a genius. A rather, rich genius.): Well, golly gee. You gals sure are brave to be going out in this snow and you are driving, too. Wow! You are very adventurous.
My Travel Companion from Chicago: Ya, well…
And off we go prepared to be gripped and seized with Italian Tuscan gorgeousness (snowflakes, snowflakes everywhere).
Into the towns of Montalcino, Pienza and Montepulciano we drive crazily thinking that the snow we were experiencing in one town would not be there to greet us in the next one (complete white-out).
My Travel Companion from Chicago: Seriously, what is going on? Why are all these towns closed? Is it a national holiday or something?
Me (leaning my head on the headrest of the car and thinking to myself): I bet it’s really lovely here in the summer months, but really, it’s kind of like I’m in Minnesota right now.
My Travel Companion from Chicago: O.K. Are all these towns up on the top of a hill?! And why is it only snowing up on top of the hills?! What is with this place?! (sidenote: if you are curious and have time to kill, watch our totally non-professional videos for more of our fric-n-frac commentary while driving about in the Tuscan blizzard, ‘White Out’ and ‘Green Patches’).
Six hours later and back at the hotel.
Me (after checking the local news on-line): So…get this…apparently, this is the worst snow storm the area has seen in over half a century.
My Travel Companion from Chicago (laughing uncontrollably): Well, that explains things.
Yes, it most certainly did. Thank the Madonna that they have killer salami.