It was actually the sequel to Frances Mayes’ ‘Under The Tuscan Sun’ called something like ‘Everyday in Tuscany’ that I bought at Costco that inspired this entire trip. Well, it actually inspired an extended spring break one year that eventually inspired this entire trip. Oddly, Tuscan was not on the original itinerary but we’ve learned to go with the flow.
I am not a devoted fan of Frances Mayes but there is a bit of connection. Turns out she lived in the same neighborhood as some friends of ours form Marin. You could actually see her house from the 10th hole at Peacock Gap Golf Club. I was intrigued at first but when our aforementioned friends ended up purchasing her house and we went to a party there I was able to see a connection and watch the movie with a little more interest.
So we rented a villa in Tuscany. Just 30 minutes outside of Florence with little to no expectations. I’ve learned that the lower the expectations the better I do when moving my family from place to place. Keep it low. Always be surprised.
Tuscany is amazing. Exactly the way the movie portrays it. The rolling hills, the vineyards, the terracotta roofs and the yellow stucco. There must be a law in Italy that you have to use one of 5 shades of yellow for your home. It makes for an amazing vista. Maddy was in heaven having waited weeks for the open-space and a front yard to play in. Even Ben joined in the fun for some Bocce.
The dream of renting “a Villa in Tuscany” was not on either of our wish lists, nor in the original trip route - but as we have done in several other places on this trip, we zigged when we originally planned to zag.
So after Venice, the fashion capital of Milan was originally next-up on the list, but we needed some time out of the hustle-and-bustle of the big cities (especially for Maddy) - so we went south to north-central Italy and 45-minutes past Florence, we rented that villa in Toscano.
Ahhh. A place to relax and drink red wine overlooking the vineyards and Italian Cypress trees. It was very nice, except for the crappy internet service. And even though we are supposed to be "off the grid" learning and absorbing culture, being cut-off from emails and internet services becomes a pain when you are so used to immediate access to everything - especially travel planning sites!
And since we are traveling as a family-of-five, we needed a 3-bedroom house, and took what looked like a bargain online. It was serviceable, but not the romantic vision one might imagine if traveling as two! You get what you pay for.
I had a good time, the area was gorgeous, and we saw the old part of Tuscany from the 1300’s - the original walled town with castle, churches, courts and the whole medieval treatment. Plus, we had some good cheap wine and played some real Bocce ball in the hills.
We also took a horseback ride in the vineyards and went to a Chianti wine tasting (with a bunch of twenty-somethings from Chicago and Minnesota. Man, did I think I knew it all at 25?).
Plus, we got back into some schoolwork, so all is well. Oh, and at night we FINALLY are shutting off the internet and learning to play family card games! Thanks to Linda Kamp for starting us in Greece!
Off to see Michangelo’s statue of David back in Florence, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and then Southern France. Life is good, even when it’s not everything you expect.
Arrivaderci and Ciao!