Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Four days in Tuscany

Time for a break from the Christmas posts...

Back in September Lola and I went on a whirlwind trip to Italy to attend the wedding of our friends Amy and Andrew in the stunning Tuscan countryside. I've been meaning to write about it and share some photos since, well... September but I keep getting distracted with other things; Halloween preparations, Thanksgiving preparations, Christmas preparations and of course Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter etc etc etc. Even now I'm being distracted by my blog feed!

Ok, enough procrastinating, let's get these photos up...

Our trip to Italy was short but sweet. Only four full days in total. Along with the bride and groom travelling from London a handful of good friends had travelled from Australia for the wedding. It was lovely to catch up in such an amazing location.

Amy and Andrew's wedding was held in a little Tuscan town called Greve-in-Chianti. Our accommodation was located a short drive away in Rignana which is not really a village but rather a few farm houses, a villa and a restaurant all accessed by narrow and bumpy dirt roads. Lola and I stayed in Fattoria di Rignana, a lovely old farm house converted into a B&B. The bride and groom, along with many other guests, stayed in nearby Villa Rignana about a 10 minute walk away.

Our first evening in Italy was spent doing just what Italy is best for: eating delicious food and drinking great wine with good friends. Then, of course, a big sleep to recover from our fifteen hour flight. Fifteen hours with Lola on my lap - what was I thinking?!

Our first full day in Italy was spent doing the tourist thing in the nearby medieval village San Gimignano. The entire village (or at least the medieval part) is completely enclosed within a stone wall. We ate pizza and gelato, posed for photos, bought souvenirs... all the touristy stuff.

Lola and I outside the walled village of San Gimignano



Outside San Gimignano with Kylie

The view from San Gimignano

San Gimignano

One of the many towers in San Gimignano

Lola with the first of many stuffed wild boars we came across 

This one's missing a body!

There are his legs - plus some!

Lola and I in San Gimignano

Gelato after lunch - nice one Joel!

San Gimignano

Kylie and I in San Gimignano
Lola in San Gimignano

A shrine to the Virgin Mary along the road back to Rignana

A view over Badia a Passignano on our drive back to Rignana


Day two of our Tuscan trip was spent exploring a few of the other nearby towns. Before we headed out Lola and I started the day with a walk around the grounds of our accommodation. Lola was keen to go for a dip in the infinity pool but although the day was warming up the water was not. The pool was just a little cold to contemplate early in the morning!

Lola "flies" around the grounds of Fattoria di Rignana

Contemplating the infinity pool


After splashing our feet a little in the pool we headed off to explore the tiny walled medieval village (yes, another one) of Montefioralle. Much smaller and much less tourist filled than San Gimignano, Montefioralle is a peaceful spot perched high on a hill top. We spent a half hour or so walking around the village before heading to Greve.

Montefioralle

Montefioralle

Lola in Montefioralle


Our next stop for the day was Greve, the location of Amy and Andrew's wedding the following day. We stopped in the town square for coffee, gelato, a little shopping and, in Lola's case, a tantrum! I blame this on the jet lag which seemed to set in around this time. Nothing would calm down Lola's screaming until we ventured into a butcher's shop. I'm not sure if it was the smell of the pork, the sight of all the produce hanging from the ceiling or just the change of location, but Lola's tantrum disappeared the moment we stepped through the doors. The stuffed wild boar outside the front door may have had a lot to do with the sudden calm too. 

Greve town hall with it's umm... "interesting" sculptures!

Love the cute little Italian cars

The magical tantrum ending butcher's shop 

Piggy, piggy everywhere

Prosciutto anyone?

Kylie shares her secrets with a stuffed boar

Lola's new friend

Back at Fattoria di Rignana in the evening Lola and I had a bit more of a look around before getting an early night before the big wedding day.

Fattoria di Rignana
Fattoria di Rignana

"All this is mine!"

Chianti Classico sign at the nearby La Cantinetta di Rignana - best food EVER!


Day three of our trip was the big wedding day. And what a day it was. Although the weather had been picture perfect in the lead up, a storm hit the area on the day of the wedding. Heavy rains and winds caused blackouts, mudslides and roadblocks. Amid all of the bad weather I rushed around like a mad person arranging the wedding flowers and getting Lola and I dressed and presentable. That last bit was kind of tricky with a power outage happening just as I was about to blow dry my freshly washed hair and apply my makeup! The power came back on just before we were due to head to Greve so I was able to quickly dry my hair and apply some make up. Phew!

The wedding ceremony was held in the town hall and conducted entirely in Italian with a translator on hand. After the lovely ceremony and brief stop for more coffee and gelato in the town square we headed to a restaurant in nearby Badia a Passignano for the reception. More delicious Tuscan food. Oh, I think I could quite happily live exclusively on Tuscan food. So good!

Kylie and I outside Greve town hall for the wedding

Lola and her new friend poke their tongues at each other

The happy couple

Lola collects rose petals

Lola introduces her toy stuffed wild boar "Boink Boink Toscana" to the real stuffed wild boar

Greve town square

Greve after the storm

Lola heads to the reception in Badia a Passignano.
I love that her dress looks almost as wide as she is tall!

Hanging with my girls at the reception

Amy's bouquet


After the wet and windy weather of the wedding day, we all awoke (a little later than usual!) to a gorgeous sunny day. Hardly a cloud in the blue sky. A post wedding pool and pizza party had been organised at Villa Rignana. As it was a lovely day Lola and I took the opportunity to walk from Fattoria di Rignana. Now you may remember that I mentioned earlier that it's only a ten minute walk between the two accommodations. Well, that's not toddler walking time! The walk ended up taking about 30 minutes as Lola was determined to walk the whole way. With the sun shining and such picturesque scenery I was happy to comply and slow our walk down a little - or a lot as was the case!

Olives and grapes growing around Rignana

Ready to harvest

This little home along the road houses a post box! I was surprised to learn that a postal pick up happens out here.
We posted our postcards from here. I'm hoping they arrived! 

This way to Villa Rignana


We spent the day lazing about (or in) the pool, eating the most delicious wood fired pizzas and just hanging out before it was time to pack ready for an early morning flight back home.

Lola rides the "pillow whale" as she called it!

Hedgehogs feature heavily in the details at Rignana like this step leading to the pool

Swinging Lola to sleep at Villa Rignana

Back at Fattoria di Rignana - ready to pack :(

Lola loved all of the hedgehog details

One last Tuscan sunset


Our last morning in Italy. After a much longer bus trip than expected we just made it to the check in counter with minutes to spare. What a relief. As much as I would've loved to spend more time in Italy I wasn't keen on being forced to rebook flights and find somewhere to stay at short notice. Lola fell asleep instantly once we boarded our flight and slept the whole way to Paris. After a short stop over in Charles de Gaulle airport we were on our way back to San Francisco with Lola once again asleep before take off. I don't think I've ever been so excited to have her fall asleep! Lola then managed to sleep for at least two thirds of the flight from Paris to San Francisco. A dream come true for any parent flying long distance with a toddler on their lap!  

Arrivederci Italia!

Flying over the (Swiss?) Alps. I love seeing the glaciers from above.

Paris from above


Before we knew it we were flying over the Golden Gate Bridge and our little Tuscan holiday was but a memory. A great memory that we'll cherish forever.

Hello San Francisco!

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