A Touch of Tuscany

While the girls and I learned how to make gelato at Carpigiani Gelato University

The boys did this.

The Lamborghini Museum and Factory Tour was definitely a highlight for Nate. We have about 20 of these same photos with different models (of cars, not of boys…).

We stayed in a great Airbnb a couple of train stops outside of Florence. The area was serene and the Tuscan gardens were on point. We wandered Giardino della Villa Medicea di Castello for quite some time.


Okay, admittedly I didn’t love Firenze (Florence) as much as I thought I would. I guess after car-less Venice, the streets were just too crowded and noisy for me. It felt a bit claustrophobic and chaotic.

We did enjoy the interactive Museo Leonardo da Vinci where we learned a lot about his many inventions and all-around brilliance. I bought a book at the gift shop called Think Like DaVinci and it’s full of fascinating concepts and exercises that will expand your own genius. Nate and I both have enjoyed working our way through it.

We also visited Scuola del Cuoio (a leather school and shop inside a working monastery at The Basilica of Santa Croce), which was okay, and il Mercato Centrale for lunch, which was crazy busy.

The Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore , or Duomo, is a site to sight!

The details are tremendous and stupendous.

At the end of the day we took a public bus to the overlook of Piazzale Michelangelo.

Lucca is a great little town. We rented bikes and rode around the top of the city walls and then through the historic center. Very pretty! This ended up being one of Madeleine’s favorite days. Who would’ve guessed? Not me.

This is also where we had some of our favorite food. We had huge sandwiches from Pan di Strada piled high with shaved-right-in-front-of-us proscuitto and pesto, and Riccotta-filled ravioli (with the smoothest ricotta I’ve ever enjoyed) topped with an orange and orange pepper drizzle from In-Pasta – Cibo e Convivio. Yum. It was like dessert for dinner.

The historic town of Arcola is something else!! I’ve never seen a hamlet quite like this before. It’s basically a big hill with hundreds of apartments built up on all sides and stacked on top of each other in no discernible way.

The paths and stairways got narrower and steeper the higher we went. The apartments were all crammed together and many seemed to be falling apart. This whole little community basically walks up and down an entire skyscraper’s worth of stories to get to/from work, the grocery store, the laundromat, school, and everywhere else. I bet the residents all have thighs and glutes of steel.

We couldn’t stop until we made it all the way to the top because the pull to go higher and higher was too strong.

We got lost, but it was either up or down through one of the hundred passageways, so it wasn’t too long before we found our way.

At the top we were awarded a view over the hills and an abandoned something that looked like it used to be important. We had fun photographing both of them.

Another town we visited in the area was Parma which was very EH for us. It seemed to be more of a university party town and everyone seemed annoyed that we were there.

However, we stayed in a wonderfully beautiful minimalist multi-level apartment at Cortaccia San Vitale Hotel in the countryside. It comes with extensively beautiful gardens, a fun playground, a wine museum, and a real life castle. We also had really good pizza and pasta in this area.

The above picture is the last one we took in Italy the morning we left for the airport. The dreaminess of it was real and it was SO hard to go.

So that’s all of it! Doing these posts has made me extremely grateful and full of awe that we were able to see such an incredible place. At the same time, it has me yearning to return. Someday, Italy. Some day.

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