Well, it happened. I had the elusive “best vacation ever.” You know the kind when you absolutely don’t know what to expect? You try something new, outside your comfort zone? You are excited, but keep the expectations in check. Mainly because you are clueless to the area, the culture, the possible experience. Your well-traveled friends tell you how amazing it will be, but you are still a clueless American.
We traveled to Tuscany, Italy. As luck would have it, we even found perfect weather for two straight weeks. After two days recovering from jet-lag, we let the city of Florence captivate us for a short time. Then we rented a car and drove to the tiny Tuscan hillside town of Montisi – to share an ancient, restored home with friends for a week. The house was once an olive mill. History was everywhere. The town is home to only 350 people.
Many day trips ensued. To places like Siena, Pienza, Montalcino, Montalpuciano, Arrezzo, Cortona. The country side was green and beautiful. Olive trees and grape vines were everywhere. The trip ended back in Florence for a few nights. We spent those last days just wandering the streets, admiring the architecture and eating the food.
For me, this felt like a life-changing trip. It seems everywhere we went something new inspired me. There were good friends, lots of conversation, tons of laughter, memorable meals with incredible wine. There was amazing beauty in each city and every skyline. There was a slower lifestyle – with nap time included. There was fresher food. Fresh milk in a tiny town means it was delivered that morning with a 2-3 day pull date. There was more walking, more moving.
There was even less technology. My children went almost two weeks with no television and one week with no wifi. And, honestly, they didn’t complain that much. And just to let the American in me surface – the shopping and fashion was amazing! Walking the streets of Florence showed me how sloppy I dress. I guess I have eluded myself into believing that my comfortable jeans and t-shirts are fashion. Note to self. They are not – at least not in Italy.
When you travel with 4 children it is easy to be ready for home after two weeks. Recent family vacations have all left me longing for home that last day. Not this trip, though. We sat at our last dinner with wonderful thin crust pizza and red wine – and I cried. I cried because I was in a beautiful place and I wasn’t ready to go home yet. That in itself was life-changing.
So to Andrea and Eric, our kind and generous friends, thank you from the bottom of my heart for inviting us to share the villa with you. This was a trip someone else needed to suggest. Someone else needed to push me outside my vacation comfort zone. I learned so much. We experienced so much. All the jet-lag and getting lost on Italian roads was worth it. Hands down the most amazing family vacation yet!
Maybe Venice or Rome the next time…..