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Article: 2 Weeks in Tuscany: Italian Trip Recap

2 Weeks in Tuscany: Italian Trip Recap
Marcie On...

2 Weeks in Tuscany: Italian Trip Recap

This summer, the Plöbst, Firth, Gwynn and Munroe families took a summer family trip to the beautiful hillside of Tuscany, Italy. Marcie and René go to Europe every year to visit René’s home country of Switzerland. 

Shortly after we were married, we decided one of the best gifts we could give our children and grandchildren would be to show them the country of Europe.  And what better way to show them then through the eyes of someone who grew up there? So, every year we pick a different country or region to visit, and this year, it was Tuscany.

As the US crew headed over the Atlantic Ocean, Marcie and René made their way from Switzerland via car with an overnight stop in Bologna, Italy, which is halfway to Tuscany. We loaded up on wonderful Bologna Italian specialties: mortadella, cheeses, balsamic vinegar, and salami to share during our stay.  Not one of these items disappointed…all were unbelievable! Anoyone traveling to Bologna should stock up!

The next morning came with good news that the US crew had arrived safely in Rome. The next fun part of the journey was about to commence.  While Marcie and René were driving to the Florence airport to get a second car, the US crew was navigating their way through Customs and studying train schedules.

It was fun to see everyone’s skill set come into play during this time. Logan and Courtney emerged as the leaders of navigating the train schedules for two different trains and payment of all tickets. Ernest emerged as the leader of hauling every suitcase, car seat and backpack for everyone on and from both trains ,and Taylor kept everyone and everything together and safe.  

Needless to say, Marcie and René breathed a sigh of relief when we got the text that they had successfully made their way through all of these steps and were on the 1 ½ hour bullet train to Florence.

While the US crew was relaxing and enjoying the sights from the train, Marcie and René were on their own adventure.

Unlike the USA, there are not a lot of cars in Italy that can hold 6 adults and 2 children and suitcases. Thus, the experience of renting a car and driving a car in the heart of Florence began for Marcie. 

We will spare you all the details, but Marcie is truly grateful that one of the many, many things that could have happened didn’t (hitting a tourist, a car, a bus, a tram,  a bicycle, a dog, a train….going down the wrong way on one way, very, very, very narrow streets…)

We were so very happy when we managed to gather at the train station and make our way out of the busy city of Florence.  What a difference a 30-minute drive can make!

Tuscany is the exact opposite of the bustling city of Florence.  One can honestly never tire of seeing this sight. Its sloping hillside full of olive trees and vineyards is breathtaking and so very serene.

The drive gave all of us a chance to shake off the stress of traveling and soak in the scenery around us.  Upon arrival at the Villa we rented, all of us quickly and easily adapted to the laid-back life that is felt in this region. 

We slept in late most mornings, (someone in our group slept until 1:45 p.m.), and then enjoyed leisurely breakfasts of fresh breads and  pastries from the local baker down the street, as well as cheeses, meat and fruit.

For the first 5 days, we never left the villa.  Those days were filled with swimming, resting, relaxing, playing games and enjoying our time together. After that, we did venture out. 

A day trip to the city of San Gimignano, as well as a day trip back into the city of Florence were both fun adventures, but if you asked everyone in the group their favorite thing it was the time we spent together in the Villa.

These little snippets of some of the fun things we enjoyed will give a little taste of our time in this beautiful countryside:

  • Swimming in the pool: Collins really became confident in her swimming abilities in Italy. Little by little, she pushed herself, and by the end of the trip, she was leading our family swim fests, jumping off the diving board, swimming laps, and swimming even in the dark under the stars! 
  • Playing games: Lots and Lots of card games were played!
  • Journaling: One of the ideas that Laura gave to us was to have the kids journal while they were in Italy. We gave Collins and Parks their own moleskin journals with colored pencils and René and Marcie gave them three questions every day to journal.  They could write or draw their answers. It was so sweet to see the things they saw through their little eyes. These journals will go with us on trips to come.
  • Making homemade pizzas on the terrace: René has truly perfected his pizza making abilities, and what better place to do it then in the home of the first pizza: Italy. It was so fun for everyone to participate {and so very delicious}. The pizza oven was a hit and the smokey flavor of olive wood branches for the fire made the taste fantastic!
  • Sights and sounds of the small village life in the regions of Tuscany: Every day one could hear the sounds all around: the bees on all the flowers, the motorcycles traversing the hills, the neighbors down the road. It was peaceful and so quaint as well.
  • The unbelievable flowers and foliage around the Villa.: A local gardener came every morning to tend to the flowers, plants, and fresh herbs. There were beautiful flowers everywhere.
  • Wine tasting: There was a wonderful winery beside the Villa and we enjoyed taking a tour of their winery and house. It was a very old established winery. The buildings on the property were incredible with so much history. Prince Charles visited here several years ago. Fun fact: Every child born in the family had their own wine.  500 bottles were corked, and there was a personal wine held for each child in the cellar.  They can choose when to open it or who to give it to.

Parks’ and Collins’ favorite snippets of the trip included:

  • Clobi Special : René displayed a unique dive off the diving board at the pool which received a lot of laughing from all of us and many demands for several repeat performances, and Parks loved this.
  • Wine Door: In Florence, they have secret doors in the old walls where people can knock on the door and someone upstairs delivers a glass of wine to the person on the street.  Parks thought this was cool because we don’t have anything like this in America. 
  • Spaghetti: All Collins talked about before the trip was eating spaghetti. We had a local woman who came in and helped with the cooking a couple of nights, and then we also went out to dinner a couple of nights.  There wasn’t one night that Collins did not eat some Spaghetti. She was a member of the “clean your plate’ club every single time! 
  • Gelato: Collins followed up with, of course, Gelato. We all said that our little red head girl may find herself in Italy one day if her eating is any indication of how much she liked the country. 

Adults’ favorite snippets of the trip included:

  • The relaxing time we got to spend at the Villa.  No days were ever hurried, and it was nice to be able to take things as they came.

It was hard to say goodbye to our little Tuscany Villa, however, we all knew we had so many wonderful memories of this place that will be with us forever.  While we will miss the easy days of summer here, we all said, “Where to next year?”

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