Our next stop was Tuscany; we managed to find a villa that would accommodate 4 families (trust me quite a challenge) as we were having a family reunion and the now married couple (Jo and Joska) were joining us – they were having a familymoon;)
The Villa was amazing although with so much to see and with the Florence shopping outlets so close by www.themall.it (after visiting here you will never pay anywhere near full price again) we actually didn’t get much time to enjoy the villa. To be honest i didn’t love Tuscany – my visions of popping down to the picturesque local village and picking up my local produce for the day’s meals never eventuated – instead it was a local supermarket in quite a daggy town. So next time we do the rural Europe thing i think we will definitely choose Provence…in saying that we did have a great week and was definitely a good base to explore a lot of Italy..
The Villa we chose (actually it chose us as was one of the only ones available that could accommodate all of us) is called ‘Fagnana’ and was located near Forcoli (about an hour and a half drive from Florence and also an hour and half drive from Cinque Terre) my sister in law booked through Abercrombie and Kent which were amazing to deal with.
The highlight for us and especially the kids was the heated pool that overlooked the olive groves
And of course the sprawling lawn off the terrace…
The familymooners at least got some privacy and P & Q from lots of children in their detached outhouse;)
oh the serenity..there is something to be said for a pool with no fence..i know a bit controversial but aesthetically you can not beat it; the ancient olive trees don’t look bad either!
Gigi exploring the grounds and picking the flowers;)
We visited our good friends who were staying at Forte Dei Marmi which is a gorgeous sea side town in the provence of Lucca (only an hours drive from the villa) we spent the day exploring the town by bike (so much more glamourous when you don’t have to wear a helmut) then we dined at a restaurant on the beach for lunch
The beach club which our friends belonged to featured turquoise stripes as their signature beach chairs – um divine!
And these gorgeous turquoise beach huts – crying out for a photo op!
The town is in the foothills of the marble mountains; when we first drove past these mountains i stupidly thought the caps of the mountain were covered in snow..no that would be marble; we cycled past loads of industrial parks with huge slabs of marble sitting waiting to be shipped off..and yes even the showers on the beach are painted in that amazing turquoise
For dinner we ventured into the medieval town of Pietrasanta City which is only a 5 min drive from Forte; this town was a favourite of Michelangelo due to its close proximity to the marble and has since become home to the worlds most famous sculptures – Gigi posing at the start of the picturesque village
In the piazza of the town there is a regular rotation of incredible sculptures on display
We had the most amazing meal in an ancient restaurant within this gorgeous town..baked truffle ricotta anyone??
Our next day trip was to the Cinque Terre; i was blown away at just how steep these 5 villages were; incredible also is that they still farm this land!
I was all geared up to take a swim in those much photographed turquoise waters – and was even keener to photograph them! Due to freakish winds and high swell the water was more brown than blue and so the seas were so dangerous that they even had to rope off the swimming spots!
This didn’t dampen our appetite though – this may have been the meal of the entire trip – just lobster and homemade pasta and fresh tomatoes – so delicious!! we dined right on the cliff face so not a bad view either;)
Hitting another picturesque medieval walled town – Lucca – on bikes! A tip if you plan on travelling with your children – they refuse to walk more than 1km – bikes with children’s seats are essential if you plan on doing any exploring!
A rare photo’s of the girls walking;) the streets of Florence – we were actually looking for bikes to hire but couldn’t find any so our next best option was horse and carriage!
Found;) 50 Euro for a 15 min horse ride was kind of steep but was definitely the best way to see this historical City;) Next stop Puglia…stay tuned xx