Tuesday, 17 April 2012

"I" is for Italy - "G" is for Gelato

I would have to say I'm the luckiest "girl" in the world!  "Why?", you ask.  Well, I'll tell you...  Not only did my wonderful parents come to stay with us in England for 3 weeks, but while they were here we took a family holiday to Italy.  AND THEN to top it off, they watched the kids for 3 nights / 4 days while Chris and I took some much needed time out together in Istanbul.

For about the last 5 years, my mom and I have been talking about planning a trip together in Tuscany.  It just never seemed to be the right time...And now finally it was the right time!  So, off to Italy for 5 nights / 6 days of exploring the Tuscan countryside.  

And I think the theme of this trip was "Gelato".  Every where we went we had to try every flavor of gelato...well, except for Olivia, who stuck to chocolate (and Alex who doesn't like that ice cream is cold.  But, by the end of the trip, after Olivia forcing him to taste her chocolate gelato every time, he finally took a liking!).  **and note to self...chocolate gelato stains!  Bring bibs next time!**

Italy was a serious "eating fest".  Everywhere you look there's something new to sample...OR you can stick to the good old favorites and go for a pizza! 
Rather than staying in a hotel, we rented an old Tuscan villa, Il Cerritoio, that was high atop the Tuscan hills (seriously hard to find...and that's a story for another day!).  

It was perfect!  Not only did we have plenty of space, but the best part was that we could put the kids to bed at the end of a long day and sit together with a glass (or 2) of wine and chat.

The other great thing is that it had beautiful gardens that the kids could play in.  We spent the mornings with cups of coffee on the terrace watching the kids run around.  Olivia had the best time making us dandelion bouquets.
Although we did do all the touristy sites of Northern Tuscany: Lucca, Florence, Montecatini Terme, Pisa, our trip also had to incorporate "fun" things for the kids.  So whenever we saw a park, we made sure the kids had some fun time.  Olivia made some little Italian girlfriends at one of the parks.  She was so frustrated that she couldn't talk to them.  She said, "Mommy, do you think that if I spoke French to them, they would understand? French is kind of like Italian."  She did try, but unfortunately couldn't make the girls understand.  So she was a bit sad (You can see her in the middle top photo below just after she had the encounter).
We had so much fun in Tuscany.  It was so hard for me to choose photos to share, so below are some of my favorites:  The Ponte Vecchio (top left), mom & dad in Lucca (top right), Florence (center), Alex playing on the terrace at the villa (middle right), mom pacifying Alex in Lucca (bottom left), waiting for the train to Florence (bottom center), Olivia and Chris in Florence (bottom right).

Our last night in Tuscany, we hired a local chef to come to our villa and cook a 4 course meal for us.  I think I speak for all of us when I say it was the "highlight" of our trip.  Best meal EVER!

Antipasti:  Mix of bruschetta and a "poor mans porridge" (top left)
Pasta course:  Spaghetti carbonara 
Meat course:  Beef cooked in red wine and herbs (with a side of roasted eggplant)
Dessert:  Tiramisu

AND to top it off, our chef brought a bottle of wine to go with each course.  Needless to say, by the end of the meal not only were we stuffed, but also a bit tipsy!
And on our very last day we headed to Pisa.  You can't NOT visit the leaning tower when in Tuscany!  Although, that's really the only thing there is to do in Pisa (the town is a bit of a disappointment).  But, we got our photo opps!
We had a fantastic time in Italy and I think I got some good photos (although by no way are these photos the quality of the photos I do for portrait sessions.  They are just my little holiday snaps!).  But, for all the good photos I got, I was for sure to get a handful of these (see below).  She's not always a "willing" model. **note the chocolate gelato on the foot!**
After all the adventures in Tuscany, we flew back to London on Friday evening and then Sunday morning, Chris and I were off to Istanbul (and that's a trip for another post!)...

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