When we want to celebrate life we go to Italy.
When we decided to spend our family vacation in Chianti in the Tuscan hills we realized we should get married first and celebrate in our favorite place on earth with our kids and their partners. The Tuscan wine region is the cultural, culinary and world renowned center of Renaissance Italy with an ideal climate and central location to all the other sites on the “boot”. Every time we go back I have a fresh experience in a country that I love, whether in the romantic countryside or historic hill towns.
The perfect Villa for a family vacation in Chianti.
The Villa il Colto (aka Villa Elena) is certainly the most comfortable, beautiful house we’ve ever rented. Nine of us enjoyed 6 comfortable, luxurious bedrooms and bathrooms, a phenomenally well-outfitted kitchen, dining patio, beautiful pool area, 360 degree views, terraced fruit and vegetable gardens, all renovated with love and care by Elena, Laura and their crew. Thank goodness Elena is an architect and we got to live their dream for one blissful week at Villa il Colto. http://www.villailcolto.it/tuscany_villa_rental/the_house_description.html
We loved Terranuova Bracciolini, a small town nestled between Arezzo and Florence.
We were delighted to spend time just down the hill in Terranuova Bracciolini. How could you not love a town with a name that sounds like a song? It is so cute and lovely and quaint with not a tourist to be seen other than us. The chianti we found at the local Fattoria Terranuova was 5 euros a bottle and delicious. When renting a home the more local color you can find on foot the better.
We walked up the hill to discover vineyards, olive groves, chickens, geese and rolling vistas towards Loro Ciuffino and beyond. Here we were, in the heart of the rolling hills of Tuscany where could stroll through vineyards and orchards from our backyard.
It is smart to alternate touring days with days to relax and unwind, especially with a big group.
Normally I would spend everyday in churches, vineyards, museums and other sites. This time we had a traditional Italian vacation in the sunshiny days and cool breezy nights. Americans go on vacation. Italians are in vacation. They say, “Siamo in vacanza.” A lot of Europeans take off during the entire month of August. Anyone who can afford it closes their business or leaves their job to immerse and luxuriate for 4 weeks. One week is nothing in Italy. We would all be better off if we could completely de-stress before we turn around and come home to daily life. Alas we had only a week with all of these busy young people. The most super-special week of our lives… Tuscany style.
The Perfect Family Vacation Itinerary
Day 1: Jay, Scott, Emily and Patty arrive in Rome. We will meet Jodie and Kelly at the apartment in the Piazza delle Rotunda by noon. Spend over-night.
Day 2: The group in Rome trains to Arezzo and picks up the rental car. Allison and Steven land in Bologna and rent a car to drive to Villa Elena in Terranuova Bracciolini.
Activities: Look around the area. Put food in the house. Reservations at Il Canto del Maggio for dinner, a ten minute drive from the villa. http://www.cantodelmaggio.com
Day 3: Free day. Jay and Patty and whoever else wants to… check out the property, walk to local towns, markets, sites, relax, swim, etc. Marisa flies into Bologna and trains to the Villa. Make dinner after a trip to the local alimentary and produce markets.
Day 4: Take a road trip to the Val d’Orcia wine region led by Patty. We will visit Montepulciano and have lunch on a terrace at the top of the town. Then attend a tasting of the Nobile di Montepulciano, olive oil and, of course, salumi, at Tenuta Valdipiatta. Return to the Villa by 5:00. Rest for a couple hours. Enjoy a brick-oven pizza dinner in the evening with a private chef and crew.
Experience the Italian Renaissance in Florence and Siena
Day 5: Day trip all together to Florence by train led by Patty. We have 9 tickets to see Michelangelo’s David at the Accademia at 11:00 am, and also tickets for the very famous and marvelous Uffizi Galleria at 4:30. We will have a lovely lunch midday for a couple hours. These two venues will provide a walk past Santa Maria dei Fiore (The main cathedral or Duomo), through the Piazza Signoria (the central government buildings of Florence) and over the Ponte Vecchio on the Arno River. We will have prepared ahead of time to make a simple dinner at the Villa.
Day 6: Free day. Patty and Scott will lead the dinner effort with everyone’s help. We can decide what else we want to do depending on how we feel after two days of touring. I suggest shopping the local markets for dinner, harvest plums, figs and pears from the villa orchard and check out the terraced gardens for tomatoes, zucchini and herbs. We could visit a coupla interesting castle towns in Chianti or just hang by the pool.
Day 7: Day trip all together to Siena by car. Have a typical lunch in Siena. Visit the museums and medieval government buildings. Climb the Campanile tower. Cappuccino in the Campo. Shop art and ceramics. Two medieval churches. Any or all of the aforementioned.
Day 8: Last full day at the Villa. Relaxing. Packing. Swimming. Walking. Eating. Drinking. Tuscan Feast for dinner with chef and staff.
Saturday Morning Departure. Arrivederci!!
Did you know that Italians live, on the average, a year and a half longer than we do?
Italians get more fresh air, they eat a better diet and suffer less from obesity, they have closer family ties, often live with multiple generations, get more exersize and they go to spas more, and THEY TAKE MORE VACATION! Here is a link with stats that indicate its not only relaxed, cultural, fun and delicious to live like the locals on your family vacation in Chianti, it’s also good for you health.