Tuscan Vacation

Thursday, October 04, 2018

Sorry to be late on this post, but life has been crazy after being away for nine days. However I really want to share my recent trip to Italy with you before more time goes by.  I can't even begin to describe my love affair with this beautiful country.

There is so much to write about beyond the amazing food, scenery, places to visit, etc. I could probably fill ten blogs with information, but I promise to keep this as short as I can.

To start off, this trip was significant for me in so many ways.
1.  I had never been to Europe (it's taken me almost 57 years to get there!).
2.  I pushed myself to overcome a life-long fear of flying over the ocean. 
3.  For once I just "did it", which is not the way I roll.  We put this trip together in a little over a week with the help of Heidi of Colony Travel (highly recommend).  
4.  After the year from hell (3 moves and a cancer diagnosis), my outlook is changing to "Life is short.  Drink the wine and eat the gelato".
And so I did!
After trying to decide which region of Italy to visit, Richard and I finally landed on Tuscany.  On September 5th we left from Boston on a red-eye to Florence with a layover in Franfurt, Germany (this airport is a nightmare--we almost missed our connecting flight!).  In Florence we picked up a rental car (cutest little Audi!) and headed to Radda, a gorgeous little village in the Chianti region.  Our home for the week was Relais Vignale, a spectacular hotel that mixes old world charm  with a resort feel.  I felt like I had gone back in time.
 Every morning I awoke to this scene from our room.

Storybook right?

Each day we traveled to a different town in the Chianti region including Siena, Lucca, Pienza, Montepulciano, Castenella in Chianti and San Gimignano
Because I have an overload of information to share with you (I'm not good at "dwindling down"), so I decided to mainly showcase some of my favorite photos so you can get the "flavor" of Chianti.
Should you decide to plan a trip to the Chianti region, feel free to reach out and I'll be happy to give you suggestions!
If you've never been to Chianti, you must go--and if you've already been there, you need to go again. It's magical.
The scenery!
 Who knew that laundry could look so beautiful?

I have a thing for taking clothesline photos--can you tell?

The food...
Yes I gained five pounds. 
Richard and I took a Tuscan cooking class--check out what we made!
We were very proud of our home-made pasta and meat sauce with pine nuts and raisins. 
I'm getting hungry writing this! Recipes at the end of the blog.
And we made a pork roast stuffed with dried fruit.
Yep, it's an OMG.
Richard doesn't eat meat but he cheated with this meal.
We ate gelato every day. 
Italians really know how to enjoy food!

The wine...
You could spend months in Tuscany and still not visit all the incredible wineries...there are so many! 
Have you ever seen the movie "Under the Tuscan Sun"?
I fell head over heels for the region's Chianti Classico.
We did A LOT of wine tasting!

On to Florence...
 It was tough to leave Chianti, but Florence was waiting for us--and it was the perfect place to spend our last few days in Italy.
We headed to Florence, dropped off our rental car in the city (you DO NOT want to drive in Florence!) and grabbed a cab to The Grand Minerva.  Florence is a city full of life, history and culture...not to mention AMAZING food and shopping!
We stayed at the magnificent Grand Minerva which was conveniently located and easily walkable to just about everything. The hotel had a stunning rooftop bar and pool with an gorgeous view of Florence.
And the most yummy drinks ever!
 While I was photographing this outfit, I started chatting with a lovely woman who just HAPPENED to be on a free trip that she won on The Rachel Ray Show!!  Big shout out to the gorgeous Cheryl Weathers from Harrisburg, PA!
This was the view from our room.
Florence has the most incredible leather district with vendor after vendor selling leather bags, belts, wallets and other goods.
The prices are crazy low and totally negotiable. 
How many handbags can I fit in a suitcase? 
Of course, what's a trip to Florence without seeing David?
He's even more magnificent in person.

The fashion scene in Florence is fabulous too.
From high-end lines to small boutiques, you can shop til you drop. Lucky for Richard, I didn't go "too" crazy.
We both fell in love with this little boutique called
Coltelleria 26. The owners are just the cutest!
Richard ended up getting some cool leather bracelets and I bought some earrings. 
Then there's the high-end district...drool.
A girl can window shop, right?
On the last night of our trip, Richard and I splurged for pizza and wine and sat on the hotel deck to take in Florence. I won't lie, we were sad to leave Italy. 

Ciao XO

My travel tips:
I am usually an over-packer, but for this trip I vowed to restrain myself.  We ordered new luggage (something we badly needed) and were thrilled with Away. It's lightweight and super sturdy-- I also like the built in laundry bag!
We also used packing cubes to keep everything neat and organized.

My hairstylist (Helen at Robert Jason Salon) suggested that I buy a GHD flat-iron since it's the only one that can be used internationally. I have to say, I'm now hooked--it's fabulous!  Blowdryers can be tricky, and many don't work in Italy. The blowdryers in Italian hotels aren't great, but I made do.

I kept my outfits simple and lightweight.
For flying, I chose a striped midi-dress (similar here) paired with my favorite Peach cocoon wrap which was great for cool nights too.
Slip on sneakers are perfect for going through security and for lots of walking, and I bought this MK Wallace travel bag for my carry-on.

For the rest of the trip...
1 pair of white NYD's roll-up shorts (LOVE these but be sure to size down)
A few tees and tanks
A navy jumpsuit (similar here)
And several dresses that can easily be styled up or down here 
herehere (from Adrift--love!), black maxi. and print maxi
I also took a packable raincoat ,which I didn't need thank goodness. The weather was amazing!

Because there is so much walking in Italy, I only brought comfortable sneakers and sandals.
Wearing the Peach cocoon wrap. I can't live without this piece. I love it so much that I have it in gray and black!
Jumpsuits and dresses are so easy for traveling because they're one piece! I was so proud of myself for packing light. This was the first trip that I actually wore everything that I packed!

One last thing before I go....here are the recipes as promised.

Some links in this post may generate a very small commission. The Chico's and Adrift dresses were gifted.

Hair by Robert Jason Salon--the BEST!


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