Readers have asked about the title “HoboShoes.” It was coined on the first leg of a 40-mile trek across the hills and through the vineyards of Tuscany when in the space of one day we experienced our “worst of times” and our “best of times.”
We started out at dawn from Montalcino under threatening skies after overnight rains. At the bottom of the first hill, our shoes were tugged by the gooey, ankle-deep mud churned by vineyard tractors. This was merely troublesome. But as we trudged uphill out of the mire, other events went downhill. More rains drenched us, the streams rose, lightning flashed. Those flashes put wings on our heels – but to where? There was only one house in sight and it displayed the picture of a snarling dog.
Then, out of the tempest appeared our angel of mercy.
Waving a brilliantly striped umbrella, Anna Rita Tocci summoned us into her farmhouse among vines that supply grapes for the celebrated brunello di Montalcino wines. On her porch we doffed our muddy shoes and set them to dry (now seen as our HoboShoes trademark).
Then came the consensus highlight moment of our trip. Anna was preparing veal schnitzel for husband Jhonny’s lunch, so she simply set out four additional plates in their modern but oh-so-traditional Tuscan kitchen. No meal was more memorable in the two-plus weeks of touring Tuscany, Florence and Umbria’s Lake Trasimeno.
The schnitzel was preceded by pici – a fat Tuscan noodle – in tomato sauce, and followed by delicious potatoes, robust tomato salad plus a fine selection of cornichon, olives and limoncello made with lemons from Anna’s home in Calabria. Then Jhonny uncorked the brandy.
After three hours the sun had reappeared and we were introduced to the dog whose picture appeared on the warning – fuzzy, huge and wishing only to cuddle. We put on our shoes and reluctantly hit the drying path to San Quirico and our next overnight stay.
– George Ridge
... with an assist from family member Katie Whitaker on the name