We'd just crossed the Po on the final stretch of a gruelling winter drive from rural Tuscany back home to Verona in the north east. With freezing temperatures and heavy snow forecast, we had abandoned our normal route home through the scenic mountain pass, il Passo delle Radici (1,529 metres), that connects Tuscany with Emilia-Romana. Instead we took the more circuitous route, avoiding the high northern Apennines, that would see us first head south towards Lucca, then swing west to Florence, before finally turning north past Bologna, Modena and Mantova.
By late afternoon we were on the final stretch of fast flowing motorway between Mantova and Verona. The worst of the weather was behind us and our spirits were beginning to lift. All going well, we'd be home within the hour. The poor souls who were heading south, on the other hand, faced 60 km tailbacks between Brennero and Modena as they returned home after a long weekend skiing.
Having thoroughly exhausted our current cd of choice, La dolce vita (a crowd pleasing compilation of singalong Italian classics), we now opted for Stevie Wonder's Definitive Collection to see us through the final stages of our journey.
A musical education for my two young kids in the back, my wife and I blasted our way through hits like Superstition, Sir Duke, Masterblaster and Isn't She Lovely.
Fifteen tracks in comes the unmistakable piano intro of For Your Love. By the time the drums kick in at 30 seconds we are deep in the groove. Thirty seconds later comes the voice. Rich, resonant, sincere.
"All the gold in all the world is nothing to possess..."
With me on drums and the wife on lead vocals, it was one of those fleeting moments where the music, the moment, everything just clicked.
"Well", I said to my rather bemused looking kids, who seemed to have enjoyed our performance despite themselves, "it really doesn't get much better than that!"
And then, catching me completely off guard, came this...
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Richard Hough writes about history, football, wine, whisky, culture + travel and is currently working on a trilogy about wartime Verona.