I was fortunate on our trip to Italy to spend an early morning Balloon ride with friends over the incredible landscape of Tuscany. It was an amazing way to see the country side.
Our balloon pilot was a man named Pasquale. He had fallen in love with flight at an early age. When his future wife would visit from New Zealand for a school, they decided to settle down in Italy and raise a family. After a few years of apprenticing with another balloon company, the owner recognized Pasquale’s passion for the craft and urged him to take on his own certification and start his own company.
They have had their own company now for 15 years and they fly 6-7 days a week during warm season and less in the colder months. Their son also fell in love with the family trade and is now a pilot of balloon 2…and apparently may even be better than his father.
“Every flight is completely different. We have different personalities on board, the winds are always different and the completion of the trip can end in different areas.”
Pasquale has pin point control of the altitude and the direction the basket faces, however they are at the whims of the wind. Case in point, we landed in a field they had never before.
Preparation and planning are absolutely critical. The over all weight of the passengers, along with the wind speed and thickness of air all contribute to the flight quality. In addition, they fly over houses and near power lines. “I can manage the altitude to a couple feet, however you must respect the power lines”
It was so steady and peaceful up there, slowly rising and falling across the historic lands of Tuscany that great artists, historians and noblemen have walked for centuries.
When we landed, it was a soft bump, a slight tip forward and lean back as the Pasquale slowly released air from the balloon, completing the journey.
What went through my mind as I look back on the flight and the entire trip was balance.
We had days of complete immersion in culture, great food and wine. An amazing seaside hike and a few good runs. My best run was an hour through the rolling back hills to high look outs, along vineyard trails and back country roads in 100 F heat finished by jumping in the pool.
It felt great to take in the culture and history, and even better to connect with nature, smell the pine trees, feel the heat and sweat. First time I felt really balanced in a few days on the trip. A workout in nature is my key to help me provide energy and motivation.
Like the balloon basket touching down, I have tipped forward and am starting to lean back with a soft bump as we fly back to NYC.
The trip was amazing, at exactly the right time and it will be great to get back into the vibe of city life.
The morning balloon flight ended with a delicious picnic in the field, with local prosciutto, melon, cheese and champagne.
Before 730am the day had already been a gem.
The kick in the pants you need. Sign-up for a better start to your work day.