Tuscany, Italy – June 30-July 6, 2012

After three action-packed days in Rome, we were ready to begin the rest and relaxation part of our vacation.  We got adventurous and thought we’d try renting a villa in Tuscany.  Our thinking was that this would give us more space to accommodate the baby, and less chaos so we could really relax.  We were super impressed and I think we’re now converts to the “villa” way of vacationing – we had our own kitchen to cook, our own pool to swim, and tons of space to stretch out.  The place we rented was about an hour south of Florence by a town called Cortona which was made famous by the movie Under The Tuscan Sun.  It was “molto bene”!

Traveling light is not one of our strengths. After dragging our 5 bags and 1 child the 6 blocks from the rental car “office” to the rental car “garage” we got to cram all this stuff into what Europeans consider to be a family car. Then, it was navigating out of Rome 🙂

We were hoping for privacy, but this place was seriously out of the way. The directions included stuff like “keeping the stone wall on your right, drive over the hump back bridge and turn right over the second bridge” – not exactly Google Maps. We got lost for about an hour, but finally arrived after 3 hours in the car.  The owner described this to us as an estate that has been in his family for over 100 years and the place we stayed was an old restored farm house. Not fancy, but exactly what we were hoping for.

The dirt road to the villa was lined with olive trees. This is when I knew John might never leave this place. I mean, European countryside couldn’t be a more perfect fit for him (or me).

Soaking it all in. Charlotte is content anywhere as long as she has that thumb!

We had a great view of the full moon to celebrate our true two year anniversary.  We got engaged under the full moon and married under the full moon. We prefer to go by the lunar calendar 😉

John’s description of this photo was “sell our stuff, we’re not coming back”.

This was Charlotte’s first time in a pool. I just couldn’t wait to dress her up in all of her adorable swimsuits. We were delighted to find that she loves the water!

Little Miss Charlotte was a fashionista at the pool!

It took Charlotte a little while to get use to her floaty. Daddy convinced her it was fun!

She’s so brave!

We like to call this one “Topless in Tuscany”.

Now onto the important stuff – FOOD! Our mission each day was to find at least one meal we could write home about. This little restaurant was called Osteria del Teatro and was inside the “old-town” part of Cortona. Most places don’t even open for dinner until 7:30 so we were usually the first ones there like you see here.

The top left pic is an appetizer including “pumpkin flower ravioli” – pumpkin flowers stuffed with risotto cheese. Who comes up with that? This was easily the best meal we had in Italy. We ate for almost three hours. Time doesn’t exist with Italians when it comes to eating.

Baby Charlotte loving dinner time too!  She was generally super good and just sat in the Bjorn while we ate.  It was pretty funny to look at the Bjorn after the trip and see all the little spills of food and gelato that must have happened while John was eating and Charlotte was sleeping on his chest.

Another amazing dinner along the side streets of Cortona. John looking more Italian by the day and I, of course, am enjoying my noodles.

We made several lunches and dinners ourselves. I think the funnest part was shopping at the grocery store and checking out all the ingredients. They had whole departments dedicated to salamis, cheeses, and fresh pastas. We were in heaven.

We took a short drive to the town of Siena for an evening to try out this amazing restaurant – Taverna di San Giuseppe.  The whole experience was very Medieval.  It’s based in an old cellar that feels like it’s hundreds of years old. This was a sampler of several appetizers – baked mozzarella, chicken livers (John ate those), mushrooms, and a pastry with cheese. Yowza!

Can you tell Charlotte is wrapping daddy around her little finger? This is the cutest picture ever! Oh, and amazing pasta again.

A yummy lemonade and a large pre-dinner snack of pizza and a bruschetta with lots of arugula and shaved parmesan. It was our last day in Cortona so we were packing it in.

We weren’t always eating.  Charlotte and daddy enjoying the park.

Charlotte and I taking a break to catch up on texts and Instagram in the Piazza Del Repubblica in downtown Cortona.

Plenty of uphill walking around Cortona.

Overlooking the valley.

Charlotte being cute, as per usual.

Our last night in Cortona. Love this baby girl of mine!

It’s always a little sad to pack up and go home… especially for Charlotte apparently. She had a little protesting fit on the plane for about 20 minutes which felt like an eternity. Yes, we were that family with the screaming baby on a 9 hour flight right when everyone was trying to sleep.  She didn’t go for the bassinet the airline provided, she just wanted her carseat.  Lesson learned.

One more little post from our day trip to Florence.

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