May 30, 2012

Hills & Villages of Tuscany

Of the places I’ve been to since I moved to Amsterdam almost 4 years ago, Italy most certainly takes the cake on the most visited. Budget flights and sweet opportunities always meant jetsetting off to Italy was a great idea—weekends in Venice with Christian then with my mom, renting a villa in Tuscany with Christian’s friends, spending 10 days all over Italy with my best friend and revisiting Cinque Terre twice in one summer. So it was no surprise that when my parents said they wanted to relax, drink wine and visit medieval villages, I had one place in mind: TUSCANY! Once we arrived my dad said he already loved it (although I’m sure the roadside stop for a coffee and him receiving a rich chocolatey-espresso-whipped cream cup of deliciousness instead could have done the trick too…or maybe it was the fresh ham-cheese-focaccia panini…then he ordered a second panini!). About a 2 hour drive south of Pisa, we zigzagged our way through old country roads and vineyards to a villa we rented for the week—Casa Bella. It was a beautiful brick abode with a pool overlooking a vineyard--we couldn’t believe our eyes when we arrived, it was gorgeous! But more on the villa later.

The best way to see Tuscany is to rent a car and just drive in any direction—everything is beautiful in Tuscany. After my mom whipped up breakfast from the local market, we hit the road towards San Gimignano and Volterra. Both places were exactly what my mom wanted—medieval walkways and churches, old town squares and breathtaking scenery in every direction. Although it was the drive between San Gimignano and Volterra that had us pulling over every 5 minutes for a photo-op! For 3 days we piled in the car and whirled around the area, passing through the green hills of Montalcino, admiring the cypress-tree lined hills between Asciano and Siena, finding what-seemed-to-be the hidden abbey of San Galgano and stopping for lunches of cacio e pepe (spaghetti with cheese and pepper), bruschetta, tagliatelle con verdure verdi (tagliatelle with fresh vegetables) and trofie con pancetta e carciofi (trofie with pancetta and artichokes). As if we didn’t have enough delicious food from our explorations around Tuscany, it seemed too good to be true when the owners of the villa dropped off a big homemade bowl of Tiramisu that night…well played Italians, well played!


{San Gimignano}
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{Hills between San Gimignano & Volterra}
{Abbey of San Galgano}


Rachel Elizabeth said...

It looks beautiful! I am so jealous, I have always wanted to visit San Gimignano before but unfortunately I have only ever been to Rome in Italy. It sounds like you had a lovely time :) xx

Jenna said...

So beautiful! I'm dying to visit Italy, can you believe I still haven't been! The pic of you two dancing is presh :)


kim @ a positive peace said...

Wow! Beautiful!!! So awesome that italy is such an easy, inexpensive trip for u!!

Annette | Bucket List Journey said...

I agree that the best way to see Tuscany is to rent a car. The hubby and I did just that and everything we saw was amazing!

stefanie hurtado said...

these pictures are all so beautiful!! i think my favorite is the one of you two dancing. definitely making sure i see the tuscan countryside next time i'm in italy!

Unknown said...

Ohhhh LOVE! Your pictures are fabulous! My hubby and I are doing the expat thing in Europe and I cannot wait to spend a LOT of time in Tuscany. I think I'll spend some time in Italy with a friend in July so I am following your blog so I can get good ideas when the time comes to plan!

Jay said...

These photos make me swoon.

Laura Nelson said...

I just came across your blog! Im loving all your traveling!!!!! :)