Chiatura, Georgia. The steel roads of Stalin

This season never makes me nostalgic for Georgia. July and August are sweltering no man's zones, when the streets empty out and the cities turn into virtual graveyards, nothing but plastic bags blowing in the wind like tumbleweed and a grandmother's cackling laugh as her and her friend share jokes about the kids these days.

But this season is the perfect time to start planning trips for the fall, which is definitely the perfect season to visit Georgia, just in time for the harvest, when the grapes are growing from every crook and cranny, filling up the air with such an exuberance of fruity smells that just breathing can make you stuffed.

And if you're planning a trip to Georgia, then make sure to include some real adventure. Make sure to include Chiatura.

Looking down on Chiatura

Young Stalin

Chiatura first came into my radar when I was reading Simon Montefiore's half-adventure, half-history book, Young Stalin. If ever you want to read an Eastern European history book that somewhat resembles a Western flick about an evil version of Jesse James, check that one out. It really is a history book, but the writing is so fluid and vivid, and the character is so out-of-this-world, that it feels like you're reading a fiction.

After many of Stalin's robbery schemes, he would take his bags of gold by donkey over the mountains to the small mining town of Chiatura, which was in 1910s Georgia a Bolshevik stronghold. The people of Chiatura were rewarded for their fidelity too: under Stalin, development soared, with electrification, a road link to Tbilisi, and new housing blocks piling up. It also soon became the Manganese mining capital of the world, a fact that would have a double luck for the town. Though mining certainly put it on the map,