Once upon a time, not so very long ago, I was perusing the eye candy that is Louisa Brimble’s blog. Lo and behold I came across THIS post. It was a beautiful photo with few words. As per usual. But the title intrigued me: A Flower Potluck. There was no explanation as to what a “Flower Potluck” was, but my brain was quickly formulating what it could be. And a beautiful day was born:
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!
How do you even begin to describe such a wonderful trip? I don’t intend to drag every little detail out into a hundred posts, don’t worry… But if any of you are planning a trip to Europe and would like more play-by-play info, feel free to e-mail me. I’d be happy to share more of what we saw, where we stayed, and what we did!
For today though, CLICK HERE to view a little slide show I put together on our trip to the Emerald Isle.
We flew into Dublin, and drove across the country (on the wrong side of the road!) to the west coast and the enchanting hamlet of Doolin. The people, music, food, and cliffs were everything we’d dreamed they would be.~ And would you believe it? The weather was delightful! In Ireland. What an unexpected gift that was! I will say though, that you’ve never experienced wind until you’ve experienced wind in Ireland. I was quite literally blown off my feet more than once (and I have have the dirt stains on my jeans to prove it :-))!
We chose not to travel very much once we got into Doolin. Instead, we relished every moment of soaking up the heartbeat of that little community… Really experiencing Irish country life firsthand. We couldn’t get enough of the breathtaking cliffs of Moher and spent several days there- we explored the Burren, and took a little trip down to Bunratty to tour the castle and enjoy their Traditional Irish Night performance. It was a fun cultural experience with delicious food and high quality performers. Definitely worth the hour+ drive!
Before we left the country, we drove over to Drogheda to visit a dear friend and her new husband, then we were headed back to Dublin the next day: bound for Tuscany!
Some highlights: the Irish breakfasts, the beautiful endless stone walls, our Innkeepers (a couple around our own age actually!) who truly welcomed us into their family, the breathtaking pastoral scenery all around Doolin, the local music, the peaceful, slower pace of life… It was all a wonderful dream – one we actually got to live awake! So, so grateful for the experience.
It is with a heavy heart that I compose this letter, but after much consideration, I have decided that May 15th will be my last day writing here on this blog. As you can imagine, it was not a decision made lightly or easily, and I will miss this space, and the sweet readers who grace it!
I still have some promised things to share with you between now and then, so this isn’t goodbye quite yet, but I thought it only fair to give you warning of the approaching end. I don’t plan to delete the blog, although I may have to import it back to blogger or some other free hosting site once I stop paying for my domain name.
Perhaps there will be a time to pick it back up again. Perhaps I’ll just miss it so much I can’t stay away. But whatever the future holds, thank you so much, from the bottom of my heart, for stopping by this little hole in the wall, and for reading what I had to share.