Category Archives: Italy


Tuscany was wonderful, beautiful, delicious and warm. Our hosts were extremely welcoming and generous. The villa we stayed in was so nice, smack-dab in the middle of vineyards and sunflower fields. The food we ate was fresh and so tasty that we ate way more than was necessary. And the weather was perfect! I can’t wait until we get to go back!

We seemed to fit so much into each day, while never feeling rushed or overwhelmed. I’m not sure I will be able to describe the trip accurately enough just in words so I am going to rely mostly on pictures. Prepare yourself because there are a lot. But they are really pretty!

Day 1 – Arrived early morning in Perugia and drove to the hilltop town for some sight seeing and lunch. We also picked up a few bottles of wine and nibbles to bring to our hosts at the villa. We got a little lost when we tried to leave the city and ended up circling the base of Perugia about four times before we finally found the right road. Getting lost is actually kind of fun when you’re not in a hurry.

We arrived a little late to the villa because of bad directions. Apparently, the five other couples that were staying at the villa got lost too so we didn’t feel too stupid. Our hosts were the parents of a friend from Santa Cruz that Charles grew up with. Her whole family was there along with a few more of their friends. We feel so lucky to have been invited.

Day 2 – After breakfast at the communal dining table at the villa we headed out with our friends Jason, Keiki and their daughter Chiara. Our destination was a few little towns in the Chianti region. Because it was mid-week and the end of the season all the little villages we stopped at were very quiet, which was just perfect.

At the end of the day we stopped in Siena in search of a supposed amazing enoteca where Charles wanted to sample some wines. Unfortunately, we never found it. We headed back to the villa and spent the evening eating yummy cheese and meats and bread and drinking way too much wine and limoncello (not me, of course) and stayed up way too late playing poker.

Side note: Chiara fell in love with Charles and they were best buddies during the whole trip. We literally had to pry her off his legs when we left at the end of the trip. It was really fun to watch them together.

Day 3 – After a somewhat extended drive, due to misleading road signs we had a yummy lunch in Florence (Firenze). Charles and hiked up to the top of the Duomo, roamed the shops for awhile and then we met our friends for a drink and some gelato before heading back to the villa for a big family dinner.

Day 4 – Charles and I didn’t feel like we had enough time to see everything in Florence the day before so we headed back, taking the train this time, and spent the day walking around the city, exploring the food market (always a favorite), walked along the River Arno while eating a gelato and across the Ponte Vecchio and finished the day with a peak at Michelangelo’s David. For dinner that night we met Keike and Jason at an old monastery in Chianti called Badia a Coltibuono for a really nice dinner.

Day 5 – This day was pretty jam-packed, but was a lot of fun. We all got up early and drove to Arezzo to check out the antiquities market. A-ma-zing! The streets were lined with vendors selling everything from beautiful antique furniture to vintage radios to antique jewelry. If we had had some way of getting it back home we would have left with a really cool old sideboard for our living room. Maybe some day we will make it back there.

After the market, Charles, Jason, Keiki and myself hopped on a train back to Florence. We had tickets to Florence vs. Palermo football game (soccer). Both Charles and Jason are huge football fans so this was a must-do activity on this trip. Although the game was a good one Florence lost, which was a bummer. For our last dinner, we met Keiki and Jason’s friends in the center of Florence and squeezed in one last gelato before hopping on the train back home.

Day 6 – After saying our goodbyes and prying Chiara off Charles’ legs we drove back to Perugia to catch our flight home. We had such a good time and I would recommend a Tuscan holiday to anybody who loves beautiful landscapes, good food and gorgeous old cities. We’re already plotting a way to get back there soon. Arrivederci!

Venice Shines Even When It Rains

What a place! I fell in love with this city the moment I stepped on the first valporetto (water bus). It felt almost unreal at first, as if we were at Disneyland on the Small World ride. Everything was so pretty and colorful. The buildings along the Grand Canal were so interesting. The ground floors didn’t seem to be used because the water came right up to the edge, even flowing into some of the doorways. The canal was full of gondolas and beautiful water taxis just like all the pictures and movies that feature Venice.

We stayed in a cute little apartment with a canal view in a great neighborhood about 10 minutes walk from the Rialto Bridge. And, of course, we had to check out the Rialto marketplace on our first morning. It was lovely! We picked up some fruit and juice, prosecco, bread and salami for breakfast and ate it on our terrace next to the canal.

No cars in Venice so everything is transported by boat and hand carts.

Loads of fresh seafood. Squid ink pasta is a Venetian specialty.

After breakfast on Saturday we head over to St. Mark’s Square to try and meet a friend visiting from San Diego. It started to rain at 11am and didn’t stop for 24 hours. The heaviest downpour I have ever been in. Within minutes all of St. Mark’s Square was flooded. We even took our shoes off at one point because the water was at least 6 inches deep. After getting soaked up to the wait we figured it didn’t matter if our shoes got wet and put them back on. I am standing in water up to my ankles.

It wasn’t so bad because the water was warmish and it sure made our day interesting. We didn’t get to meet our friend until later that night and because it was so wet outside we went inside – to one bar or after another and had a lot of wine and cheese. So Good!

Sunday and Monday were dry and cold, but it was so much easier to wander the streets and look in all the shops without the rain. My mom told me that Venice is a great place to get lost and she couldn’t have been more right. We checked out a few museums, but mostly we just walked and walked and lost ourselves in the wonderfulness that is Venice.