I can’t believe it’s almost the end of August! The last two months have been insanely busy with work, our fixer upper (reno update coming soon), kid stuff, REAL LIFE, etc. (hence, why I am still posting about our Italy trip.) But, yay for escapism! This trip was the best and these pics are from one of my favorite days we spent in Tuscany – my parents offered to babysit the kids for an afternoon so Chris and I could have a little day date. We headed to a beautiful old winery called Castello della Paneretta, located in the Chianti Classico region of Val d’Elsa. This winery has been producing wine since 1596, so, assuming longevity is a sign of getting something right we figured they ought to really know their stuff.
We were not disappointed. We walked around the stunning grounds, tasted their delicious wine, and enjoyed a very quiet, relaxing moment in this beautiful spot – just the 2 of us. I absolutely love traveling with the kids, but it is FULL ON and can be exhausting. It was so nice to have a little 1-on-1 time with each other where we could relax, actually have a real conversation, and in general just recharge our batteries for a bit (which, in reviewing this post, apparently consisted of Chris taking lots of pictures of me, which I’m sure he found both fun and relaxing. Sorry sweetie.)
After our tasting and tour, we spent a little time wandering the grounds and taking it all in.
Then we hopped back in the car and drove over to the hilltop town of San Gimignano. Known as the Town of Fine Towers, it is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site famous for its medieval architecture. The town’s history can be traced all the way back to the 3rd century BC (it has never made sense to me how they are able to know that). In 1199, the city made itself independent of the bishops of Volterra, and set about enriching the commune with churches and public buildings. However, the peace of the town was disturbed for the next two centuries by conflict between the Guelphs and the Ghibellines, and family rivalries within San Gimignano (JERKS). These feuding families built “tower houses” of increasingly taller heights, always trying to out-do one another. Towards the end of the Medieval period, there were 72 tower houses in total, up to 70 metres (230 feet) tall. The rivalry was finally restrained when the local council ordained that no tower was to be taller than that adjacent to the Palazzo Comunale. (Well done guys – always pleased to see local government actually being effective.)
We walked the streets of this beautiful little town for a while, but it was pretty sweltering in the mid-afternoon sun. We needed to take immediate action to avert certain heat stroke, and it came in the form of gelato and a cold beverage in a little bit of shade.
Crisis averted, we slowly made our way back to the car (parked just outside the city gates).
As we drove back to the villa, we passed this incredible curved, perfectly manicured, cypress-lined driveway. It was too pretty to pass by, so we pulled into the driveway to snap a few pics. It was super windy that afternoon, and I just love how this image turned out with my red dress blowing in the wind, set against the backdrop of that blue sky and straight cypress trees. (A+ work Chris.) When we got home we showed the picture to Gearardo (our villa’s owner) and asked him if he knew what it was and where the road led. He said it was the entrance to the home (or rather, compound) of the Bulgari family (eek – sorry for trespassing – love your work!)
This was my parents’ last night with us in Italy, so Gerardo came down from Florence (where he lives full-time with his family) to cook us one last epic meal. While he was manning the kitchen, we attempted to get a family photo with the kids, which ended up with a whole series that looked more or less like this.
But at least I got a couple cute ones of Poppy and CeCe with their grandkids sitting at the table where we ate all our meals. It was under this lovely wisteria arbor and was simply perfect.
Our final San Gimignano dinner together was so delicious I felt compelled to photograph parts of it. Antipasti to start followed by linguini con vongole . . .
. . . followed by some homemade lemon mint sorbet . . .
Arabella loved it all and wanted to thank the chef personally. 🙂 They were fast friends.
We all went to bed happy and full, and a little sad that this amazing trip was nearing the end. However, we had an exciting trip planned to the beach the next day so there was no time to dwell on end-of-vacation-anxiety just yet. (Pics of that coming next!)