Lufthansa's thoughtful wedding gift aside, there was a lot to be excited about once we got to Italy. Mrs. Grump and I had a full itinerary of things to see and do for our 10 days in Chianti/Florence. One of those things was a tour of Florence. But not just any tour. Mrs. Grump found a company called the Fiat 500 Touring Club. The premise here is that each group gets its own Fiat to drive as part of a convoy that tours Florence and eventually makes its way to a winery just outside of the city. Sounds fun right?
The catch here is that the cars are stick shift, and do not even have the technology that standard cars have that allows you to shift directly from one gear to another. No, I had to learn (in about 20 minutes) a technique called double clutching, which basically means twice the work for the same effect as a modern car. Oh, and I have to do all of this in a car built in 1964 that was made for a small European man/woman. So to recap: I'm expected to drive a matchbox car with antiquated technology through a foreign city that I've never even seen before. Let's go to the pictures, shall we?
The weather report said it was supposed to be sunny all day. It's comforting to know that Italian meteorologists are as full of shit as Americans. Also, note that this may have been the widest road in all of Florence.
Another shot of the back of one of our fellow Fiats. This was probably 99% of my sightseeing experience, lest I accidentally hit a squirrel and total our car. Actually, I came within about 3 inches of running over a little old Italian guy who was crossing at a crosswalk. Sure, any way you slice it he had the right away, but that would mean I'd have to come to a stop and then start a car that I'd spent the last 10 minutes stalling out just to get started. Needless to say I was willing to let this guy take one for the team.
Here we are parked outside the winery where Mrs. Grump got to do a tasting and I got to get my heart rate back down under 100 beats per minute. I like how our Fiats make the Volkswagon bug on the left look like a frigging Hummer. Honestly, though, all whining aside, it was at this point in the trip that I really started to enjoy myself. I'd gotten a handle on the car and now we got to see how wine is made by some of the best in the world. I don't even drink but it was really interesting to learn about the process, and how people rate wine beyond saying "This is great" or "This tastes like piss."
The best news of the day was that when we left the winery, the rain had stopped and we could actually stop to take a gander at some of the sights. Here we are parked in our little convoy near an overlook of Florence. I think, if necessary, our group could have easily taken on the Hell's Angels.
Even if everything else had been a complete disaster, this view would have made the whole trip worth it.
And here we have one last picture of me. Note that my head is in fact looming above the sunroof. When the cover was on it looked like a scene from Harry and the Hendersons. And in case you're wondering, due to my paranoia that one of the 3 people who read this blog will somehow affect my professional career should I include my actual identiy, any picture of my face will be replaced with Taylor Hicks. Why Taylor Hicks? Because for the last 3 months or so, I've been told that I look like Taylor Hicks by Mrs. Grump's family, the bartender at my wedding, and a couple that we had just fucking met during our honeymoon. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go kill myself.