Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Summer Vacation: Italy

What a difference a year makes! This time last year I was immersed in dust and mayhem, rapidly losing my mind as we tried to get our house finished so we could live in it. This year the end of July found me in Tuscany, with my entire family for a week. p.s. I’ve never been to Italy, so yes, this was huge.

I could use a lot of words to describe the last week, but am going to try and minimize the chatter and maximize the photos. Today, I'd like to share photos of the drop dead gorgeous villa, called Villa Torre Degli Elci, where we stayed. It's right outside Cortona, which is 90 minutes south of Florence, in the middle of Tuscany. There were eleven of us, but we all fit comfortably and even had our own rooms. 



Originally built in the 14th century, the villa was used as a watch tower and then a monastery before before becoming a family home in the 19th century.


This lovely little cottage is to the left of the main house and was our room. Despite the heat, the thick walls and stone floors kept it cool enough that we didn't use the a/c until the last two days.


The outdoor dining area with enough seating for everyone, plus a brick oven and grill (for pizza and steak- not at the same time). And yes, that is the view we had every single day.



The kitchen house, which despite its age on the outside was completely modern inside and run by creative and friendly cooks who made us breakfast and dinner with treats like these:


Peach coffeecake, prosciutto with cantaloupe and a pineapple shortcake with fresh whipped cream- all the produce was locally grown, as was the olive oil used in many of the dishes, which was homemade by the cook's family. I would have had a lot more food photos but we tried to keep cameras away from the table and focus on the food and company.


After hearty breakfasts we took off to explore various towns so by the end of the day we looked forward to cooling off with a swim- which often got competitive (surprise!) as we have a number of swimmers in the family. Needless to say, the youngsters prevailed. Except when they felt bad for their father.


A pool! My favorite place to relax and read or work out. With almost every day 90 degrees or above it was idyllic.



 View of the kitchen from the upstairs family room. The house has two main bedrooms on the ground floor with another bedroom, family room, and small kitchen on the 2nd floor. There is a third floor with a bedroom and even a 4th floor with a small bedroom. To the left of the kitchen is a small shaded patio with another brick oven.



The view from our room at dusk.


As I mentioned the villa is outside the small town of Cortona in a semi-rural area. It was incredibly peaceful with the only sounds being doves, owls, cows and roosters. And church bells, every day at least three times (including 6am) if not more. It was beautifully serene.

Up next our first day in Italy: Cortona









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