Wow. This is gonna be a tough one to keep to just a few words! As before, if you're planning a trip and would like more details, e-mail or message me, and I'd be happy to share...
Springtime in Toscana Italia. Is there anything more delightful? We decided to leave our agenda pretty open ended for exploration - we had two nights booked, and from there we just thought we'd see where the wind led us. *I would not recommend doing this in high season - we were only able to take the risk because things were still pretty slow in the tourist department in April! Turns out? We ended up spending an entire week right where we started!
So the story about where we stayed: our plans originally had us starting out near Firenze, making a slow clockwise loop around Tuscany, and perhaps stopping in Volterra briefly (like for an afternoon) on our way back to the airport in Pisa. - Then, just a couple of weeks before our trip, we decided to watch a Rick Steves video on the Tuscan hill towns, and in the video he declares his love for Volterra as perhaps his favorite best-kept secret! From what we saw on the video, we knew we wanted to make it a more prominent stop on our tour, and as we found it even closer to Pisa than Firenze, we promptly canceled our first reservations, and discovered the gem that is the Albergo Villa Rioddi. Although the room decor is nothing to write home about (most European lodging isn't), the bed was comfy, everything was spotlessly clean, and the views from our windows: worth a million bucks. We loved the breakfast buffet (which was included), wifi was free, and the location couldn't possibly have been better. It was maybe a 5 minute drive to the city walls, and even less to a local super market and laundry mat. It had everything that we needed, and a breathtaking view to come home to every night, so we decided to put down our roots for the week!-I think it's safe to say too, that after visiting many, many towns in Tuscany, Volterra is our favorite by a mile! It's small. The streets are very navigable on foot (not too steep), the restaurants are divine, there are very few tourists to be had, parking was easy to find, the locals are friendly, there is a beautiful park, and nice rustic walking trails through the woods... It just spoke "home" to us. As a point of reference, everywhere we wanted to visit within Tuscany was less than a 2 hour drive.
Yes, we avoided every major Italian antiquity on our trip. No leaning tower (except from the highway and the plane!), no David, no Coliseum. We were there to discover the Tuscan way of life - not to stand in line all day to snap a picture of something famous. And what we discovered was that we could so easily assimilate into their culture. Our hearts were born for the Italian countryside. We've never felt at home or happy here in America. And now we know why!
Who knows if the future will bring our longing to fruition, but for now, we have our photos and memories to help us relive that magical week in Tuscany. If you'd like to see a few, there is a slideshow below. But be warned: it's almost 15 minutes long!
Tuscany 2013 from Vimeo.