travel diaries: italy [lucca, pisa, tirrenia, montepulciano, siena, castigloncello, + florence]

with family coming to visit we always have *somewhat* of an itinerary, so that we can share with them this wonderful place we currently call home.
they came to visit us [mostly deanie ;)], and got some great sights in while they did! 

with fourth of july weekend giving matt a break. he was able to take a long 4-day weekend, so we booked a farmhouse in tuscany. we were able to make a home base of the farmhouse, and then travel within 1-2 hours everyday to really get out and explore the region.  just for reference, florence is a good three hours from us and montepulciano is four.  this allowed us to make the most of our four days of freedom! and y’all. thank heavens for rick steves. my book is my travel bible. if you ever go anywhere… consult rick!

just a quick shot of us getting loaded up to leave! 

 ^^^ to allow us all to fit in one vehicle we rented van. anyone who has ever been to italy will know that the streets can be extremely narrow & the drivers are  c r a z y.   shout out to our amazing driver [matt] for doing an excellent job navigating all our endeavors! ^^^
<<day one>>
the first day included a drive to lucca/touring lucca, then a quick stop in pisa. afterwards we took a dip in tirrenia before settling down at the farmhouse for the night.
l  u c c a:
 ^^^ our first stop was the quaint town of lucca. it’s kind of a hidden gem. the entire city is surrounded by preserved ramparts (the wall encircles the city, and is perfect for an evening bike ride.) it’s so charming and untouched. he city has never been bombed. we stopped by the tourism office and picked a map with a quick sketch of the must see places and walking guide. ^^^

  ^^^ the gorgeous alter / a cute entryway i found!^^^
 ^^^ giancomo puccini statue: an italian opera composer who is from lucca. ^^^
 ^^^ i picked up the cutest olive wood rolling pin here. i loved seeing all the pieces. that olive mortar and pestle is everything! ^^^
  ^^^ lucca is full of charming romanesque churches!^^^


 ^^^ this photo hardly captures the beauty of this ceiling. it was gorgeous. ^^^

 ^^^ piazza dell’ anfiteatro: the remains of a roman amphitheater.
 ^^^ enjoying their first pizza in italy! ^^^
 ^^^ this big boy loves pizza! ^^^

  ^^^ we walked part of the ramparts. of course, the boys decided they need to consult excellent tour guide, holden, for directions! ^^^
p i s a: 
just a quick pit stop along the way. we were here for maybe an hour.


 ^^^ see you next time, pisa!^^^
t i r r e n i a: 
we wanted to make a stop by the beach, and check out the west coast of italy!




^^^ i hope holden looks back on these one day and
 loves them as much as i do. these are the memories that last forever! ^^^
<<day two>>
^^^ good morning! this beautiful flower was a pleasant surprise to see when we walked out the door of our farmhouse. if you look in the background do you see those green bulbs?  the night before when we arrived it was dark, and that was all that was on the bush. we were like, “maybe it’s some kind of weird fruit?!” well, we were very wrong. they were the most intricate blooms i’ve ever seen!^^^
m o n t e p u l c i a n o: 
 ^^^ standing at porta al prato ^^^
  ^^^ i found the passagio secreto (secret passage) into montepulciano! it really just took me into a very rustic meat + cheese store.  i’ll take it. / the colona dell’ marzoco. ^^^
 ^^^ etruscan and roman fragments embedded in the wall ^^^
 ^^^caffe poliziano for lunch…^^^
 ^^^ with a view worth a million bucks! ^^^

 ^^^ on the right is a photo to show the ‘vicolo dello sdrucciolo’ which literally translates to the slippery lane. a vicolo is a cut through to the upper part or exterior part of town. they are narrow and usually pretty steep. they date back to roman times^^^
 ^^^ vicolo views ^^^
 ^^^ i loved the quirkiness of this shoe store using old shoes with paper mache as planters! ^^^

 ^^^ one of my favorite photos from the entire trip! i love holden’s expression so much! ^^^
  ^^^ my mini model. he just loves to pose!  /  bottega del rame. it is the most amazing copper shop that is run by and elderly man and his wife. to this day he continues to make pieces in his shop up the road for the store. if you’re on my instagram you’ve probably seen the cute little copper planter i picked up! ^^^
  ^^^ his workshop. he was busy at the time, but he did make custom
 pieces. we may need to make a trip back! / palazzo communale ^^^
 ^^^ the facade was left unfinished, but don’t let that fool you. the inside was stunning! ^^^


 ^^^ vineyards and olive orchards scattered across the land ^^
 ^^^ my sweet little nugget is such a good travel companion. he goes wherever we desire without much fuss. we found a cute little playground, and decided to give him some free time to run around and explore. ^^^

 ^^^ i know i’m biased, but i just want to squeeze his cheeks!! ^^^
 ^^^ one of our last stops in montepulciano was cantine contucci. this family owned and run vineyard and enoteca dates back 1,000 years. yes, you read that right! 1,000! ^^^
 ^^^ the wine of montepulciano: vino nobile. ^^^


s i e n a:  
by early afternoon we were off to spend the evening in siena! it was bustling with so much action! each year there are 2 horse races in il campo(the main piazza). there are 17 contradas (neighborhoods) that compete in this race. it’s a very passionate and extravagant event! we had missed the race by 2 days, but the festivies were continuing on! ^^^
 ^^^ parades of the different neighborhoods marched through the city streets. / walking into il campo you can see the stones[black and white] that are original remnants of the original city wall. il campo used to be a field outside of the city. the square is massive, and people scatter around it and layout to relax and enjoy themselves. ^^^
  ^^^ had to document their first taste of gelato! ^^^
  ^^^granny loved pistachio! / the city tower in il campo. ^^^
 ^^^ duomo ^^^



 ^^^ “onward, unk T! i’m ready for dinner!” ^^^
  ^^^ some of the many faces of holden reese. ^^^
i have food pictures, but didn’t want to waste space posting them! i had a delicious tuscan style meal that was meat balls with tomato sauce + mashed potatoes, granny had beef carpaccio with arugala and parmesean, pops & t man shared a pizza which ended up having hot dog pieces on it… and matt — i forgot, but i’m thinking it was a thin piece of chicken with french fries!
 ^^^ the winning contrada had a very special parade. they had drums and singing while they showed their pride and walked the streets of siena. ^^^
 ^^^ the guys + the babe post meal ^^^
^^^ the sun setting on the dirt race track that surrounded il campo. ^^^
<< day three>>
today was a beach day & relax day at the farmhouse. 
c a s t i g l i o n c e l l o

^^^ unfortunately there was no sand. only reef! we made the best of it though! ^^^
 ^^^ this boy has the life. ^^^

m o n t e s p e r t o l i: 
back to the farmhouse to relax for the night! 

 ^^^ the floaty was perfect for the ‘beeg ball!’ ^^^
 ^^^ h could not get enough swimming on his back. he was giggling so much! ^^^
 ^^^ our farmhouse in montespertoli ^^^
  ^^^ shaking the tree for olives. he was determined!  / getting shoulder
 rides out of dadee is lots of fun! ^^^
 ^^^ it was amazing to layout by the pool and watch the sun set over the vineyards. ^^^

^^^ this boy could not get enough of the watermelon! it was also quite cute to watch him “spit” the seeds! he was cracking us all up!^^^
 ^^^ good night, tuscany. see you again soon! ^^^

<<day four>>
this was our last day to adventure it was extremely hot out though!
f l o r e n c e:  
 ^^^ before our trip home we had to stop and snap a few pictures in the vineyards! don’t mind me wearing all black. what what i thinking?!^^^
 ^^^ growing grapes to make some yummy vino! ^^^
 ^^^ loved sharing this with our family! ^^^
    ^^^ the gorgeous cathedral in florence. it was breath-takingly beautiful. you’re just walking through the street, and then all of the sudden there she is! ^^^
 ^^^ (left) this is a one-handed liturgical clock that is 24 hours. / (right) trompe l’oeil of niccolò da tolentino .can anyone guess what’s wrong with this picture? ^^^
 ^^^ an organization was set up to oversee all the work by the guild members called the opera del duomo, OPA for short (O – Per – A).^^^
 ^^^ vasari’s fresco begun in 1568, and was completed by federico zuccari in 1579 ^^^
^^^ the alter of the duomo / i love finding street artists! this woman had amazing work! ^^^

 ^^^ after wandering in what must have been 110 degree weather we were ready for a lunch break somewhere cool. italy is known for not always having a/c or ice in your drinkk! oh how i miss those simple american amenities sometimes!  btw, how cute is this carousel?! holden took one look and wanted the horsey! neigh neigh! ^^^

^^^ my cutie waving to granny & pops! ^^^

^^^ we ended our trip by visiting ponte vecchio. ^^^
our four day weekend getaway was jam packed with lots to see, and lots of fun! i’m working on the rest of our trip for my next post!
see y’all soon! 


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