After an 18 hour car drive (a delightful experience with 2 kids) we were met by Ralph "at the Ferrari roundabout" which actually has a red Ferrari on it. We followed him in the dark up the long bumpy windy road and discovered the amazing villa, which is just everything you would imagine it to be, including our bed under the wooden beams supporting Ralph's newly made salamis. The week has been filled with amazing long dinners looking out at the sun setting over the hills, lots of prosecco, kids running around rekindling friendships, fabulous food, lots of sunshine and laughs. I don't know how many times we have raised our glasses to toast the fact that we are all actually here, in Tuscany, together. Wow! Amazing!
We did two day trips - the first to Pisa to make sure the tower hadn't fallen over, and to put Barney on the plane back to work (poor guy!). It wasn't a stress free trip as the Satnav didn't work well in the old town, and trying to navigate the small streets and frustrated Italian drivers, while trying to find a carpark was a challenge. Then we had to persuade 5 children to walk the 1km to the actual tower in 38 degree heat. Luckily there were lots of gelaterias on the way, so through bribery and corruption we got there. Here they all are.
Then after a day of rest, we put the all the kids on the train to Florence, accompanied by Mark and his three wives. We walked around the Duomo, the kids got their caricatures sketched, we did lunch and gelatos, meandered through the San Lorenzo market to buy Tshirts, belts, and more gelatos, then managed to miss the train home, so were forced to while away an hour at the bar cooling down with beer and more prosecco. Man, did we all sleep well that night
So, in between the day trips, we discovered the Designer Outlet Mall has a sale on and the girls were released from duty for the day to see if the credit card was working (and it was!). We have cooled off at the lake -
All in all, an incredible week, with amazing hosts. So please don't blame them for the lack of communication, blame the guests. We have been extremely well looked after, and will leave reluctantly, but will return shortly to experience more of what Tuscany has to offer. Needless to say, we have decided to retire here. Rachael has been given the task of finding the right villa to accommodate her long standing group of friends!