In case you missed my last post, in December, my family and I went to Italy. I recapped our adventures in Rome and now I’ll recap Pienza and Florence.
We have family friends who have a house in Pienza, which is part of the reason we chose Italy for our vacation destination this year. On Wednesday morning, we started out on the winding drive to their place. My brother was brave enough to drive (even though he hasn’t had a car for two years!) and adjusted well to the stick shift. We arrived at our friend’s house right in time for lunch, which consisted of bread, cheese, salamis, and other assorted tapas. After lunch we headed on a short hike to a small chapel nearby. Pienza was in the country and the views were incredible. Vastly different from Rome and much quieter. It was nice, but I really felt the temperature difference here.
Later in the day on Wednesday we went to a a few small towns: Monticchiello and Pienza. We walked around, went into churches, and soaked in the views. The sunset was breathtaking.
This was also when my brother and I started to feel really out of it. He’d end up being sick for a day or two, while I was sick for the rest of the trip. Not ideal, but I was still able to enjoy most of the things we did and saw.
On Thursday we visited Montalcino, where my parents did a fancy wine tasting. Nothing like drinking wine at 11 am! We also saw at least one church.
In the evening we went to Montepulciano, where we climbed up a building in the Piazza Grande to take pictures. I couldn’t make it to the very top because I am a little bit afraid of heights, but the view I had was still spectacular. After that, we headed to dinner at a restaurant that made a really good cheese pasta that was prepared in a huge rind of cheese!
Friday morning we went to Bagno Vignoni and San Quirico. Bagno Vignoni had a huge hot spring bath in its town center. Apparently the Roman soldiers used to hang out there, but no one is allowed to bathe in it now. We also saw a trebuchet in the middle of town in San Quirico.
On Friday around noon, we headed to Florence. After a fun driving adventure in the city, we decided to abandon the car at the airport and rely solely on taxis for the rest of the trip. Potentially the best decision we made. Our Air BnB in Florence was right in the middle of the city, which was great for walking around, but terrible for trying to sleep (so noisy!).
That night we met up with a group and went to a villa in Tuscany to have a pizza making lesson. Pizza from scratch, Chianti, and gelato? Yes, please! This was so much fun. Our instructor was great and super helpful. I discovered that I am not great at making pizzas. That might run in the family though, my brother wasn’t much better. It was a really fun class and a unique thing to do. A nice change from all the walking around and site seeing.
The next day, our last day, I was so out of it. I had to miss our walking tour of Florence, which I had suggested, and try to get some rest. My family loved the tour though. They said it was great – they were the only ones so it felt like a private tour and their tour guide was really knowledgeable.
After that we did some shopping. None of us had gotten any souvenirs yet and had a few items on our lists. The tour guide had provided two market suggestions for us to go to so we explored those. We had lunch at essentially an Italian version of a food court and were able to find some goodies while we were out.
We went to dinner at a restaurant recommended by the tour guide and I had really good ravioli. It was a great last meal on New Year’s Eve. We talked about goals for next year and the things we all hope to accomplish. After dinner we got one last gelato before heading back to pack.
Sunday was full of travel and being on an airplane and by the time I got home, I was ready to sleep for an entire day! Overall, the trip was really good. I enjoyed spending time with our family friends who I haven’t seen in maybe over 10 years and I really enjoyed the feel of Florence. I would prefer a warmer location if we do another family trip this year, but I’m just grateful that we have the opportunity to go on these family trips together. I know these are memories I will always cherish.