Along tracks or along the river, there usually is a bike path. People in Europe are expected to move more. I climbed three flights of stairs to get to the bathroom. That would not happen in North America. We’ve got 2 legs, why don’t we use them more?!!
We were stopped at a rest stop/gas station at the end of Easter break. Half the cars were returning north with their bicycles, the others were retuning south with their skis. As I was saying, they use their legs more! North Italy is beautiful – not one of my stops, but on the way to Vienna, my sister’s hometown and my launching place into Romania. There are continuous vistas of vineyards, olive groves, fruit trees, and livestock – they seem to be able to do it all.
The service station is a similar idea to what we would have on the 401 in Ontario, but there was no McDonalds or Wendy’s! It was a local food outlet and the location of a farmers market I think, but not the day we were there. They made fresh sandwiches on delicious looking rolls. Where we would find junk food in our rest stops, there was local olive oil, beautiful pasta, deli meats and cheeses. What a way to showcase Italy with pride. Yum! It was a feast for the eyes as well as the belly.
Where is our Canadian pride? Why don’t we do a better job of showcasing ‘good things grow in Ontario!’ Because its true! We have so much to be proud of. First of all, we are unbelievably lucky with our supply of fresh water. Secondly, we still have fertile soil lands (which international investors are buying up at an alarming rate). Third, in a good part of Ontario, we do ok with heat units (the amount of heat and sun we get during the growing season), providing us with so many choices as to what we can grow and therefore eat.
One farmer I spoke to in Malta said that WWIII would be about food scarcity. I hope he is wrong, but to grow food we need fresh water, fertile soil and sunlight, despite what the engineers of vertical farming think (http://smrt.io/xu2mZ9 – to be built in Sweden by 2014). How horrifying, that there are people foolish enough to think we can produce food that nourishes the human body with such farming practices. (a critique: http://www.counterpunch.org/2012/12/11/the-vertical-farming-scam/print
Fortunately, in beautiful Italy, they have not given in to such foolishness. Both in Malta and in Italy, farmers farm to produce good food. Now there is an idea! I think we are losing this mission statement in North America. In Tuscany, they know that their sun and soil produce good food. I stayed in Tuscany for a few days. They consistently market themselves with pride: “seasonal products exclusively cultivated with natural elements (water, sun, soil) … nature meeting all your sensorial needs; you will see, you will hear, you will smell, you will touch and you will taste… On the farm, everyday life passes while respecting respecting Nature and its rhythms.” (www.ilmaestrale.com)
This area abounds with ‘Agritourismo’. See also www.lucernadellagoprile.it, which not only offers a farm setting, but is only 5km from the sea shore of Castiglione della Pescaia, the town in which I stayed. Apparently, this area has partaken in the vocation of oil and wine since the Roman age. Here is another beautiful quote (www.tenuteperini.it). Imagine the Italian winemaker or olive oil maker telling you this with passion! “Our estates now ennoble the precious fruits of nature using the wisdom of man to create unique scents and tastes, that taste of earth and sea, sky, wind and sun.”