Monday, August 1, 2011

Romance in Italy....

Tuscan romance….

The thing about holidays is that the days are so jumbled, I don't know where I am in the week or month! Luckily instances pop up that demand me to re-orientate , and I refocus….
As some of you know, our dear friend/family member/au pair Ceci left us last week to continue on in her journey of life (University in Madrid).  We could not have been luckier than to have had Ceci in our lives over the last 12 months, she will always be in our hearts. The logisitics of Ceci’s recent departure has demanded another recalibration for me, so over the weekend I tried to keep things pretty quiet. 
But I have to admit during the course of last week I think I feel in love……with a man called Ken….. well to be precise………. a Tom Tom navigator with a voice named Ken. With the confidence and reassurance of Ken by my side I feel like I can go anywhere.  This impounded with the never ending temptations of Tuscany in summer made staying home impossible.  I decided to head for Collodi which is the home of Pinocchio Park (the authors home town) first thing Saturday morning.  It was a winding, green, old road to Collodi from Lucca. This little town was beautiful and we were so happy to be a part of it. However if I am to be completely truthful I have say that between all three children, we must have spent 50% of our time in the toilet… for some reason this attraction/park has only one set of toilets… and between all 3 kids, we took no less than 6 visits!!!! You can imagine the stern lecture I gave them on the 6th visit…!
With sufficiently emptied bladders and bowels, we headed out of Pinocchio park to the Il giardino garzoni (the garzoni gardens).  With three kids who are partial to an enchanted garden this place and space was not wasted on us.This historical garden is framed with pristine symmetry, yet still integrating so many fascinating textures, shapes, plants, trees, water features and of course an abundance of sculptures!! Oh and it also included a butterfly house which was heated to a tropical Australian summer to optimize the temperature for the Australian butterfly inhabitants…..we almost all passed out it was so bloody hot!!! But the butterflies were beautiful, it was just the end of a long day at Collodi…..

With the help of a round of lemon granitas under our belt (and some chuppa chups for persuasion to walk back to the car in the hot sun) we settled back into Ken and hit the road again…. Any sensible mother would have considered this enough for one day and taken her weary children home for a sleep….. but no…. I decided to make a stop in at Paola’s spare villa for a swim on the way home.  The gardens at the villa provide endless entertainment and inspiration for the children to play, no plastic or bikes or toys…. Just one very grand villa, a garden that any fairy would cut of her left arm to call home, and an every growing sense of adventure….You can see what I mean when I say the Tuscan temptation are just to much…..When I am sitting in the gardens of this villa I imagine the life it has had and the people that have called her home. For a place that is 500 years old, she would have seen some changes but her structure remains the same….

This beautiful villa is not just any old home, it started out as one of the 300 original Tuscan villas that was the summer retreats for wealthy Lucca residence to retreat to.  As they spent so much time in these places they had to build it to meet all there needs. This villa encapsulates 4 levels of grand opulence, gardens that we only dream of achieving, a chapel, an orancherie (where they stored the citrus pots in winter)…. The list is growing every time we visit….All day satuday we were passing bridal parties and churches with family and loved ones gathering to celebrate nuptuals…. Inside the city walls there are 52 churches (Australia would be counting how many pubs would be inside;-)) So you can imagine the attraction of getting married here, and many people succumb to the temptation of the Tuscan summer and the charm of Lucca….it does make a pretty awesome backdrop to photos J

So after another long day we headed home, not withstanding the children were exhausted and our little challenge is that we have about 700mt walk from the car park to our house…. Spencie cried all the way home saying “why are you doing this to me mum!!!” I haven’t used the pram once since being here, this was the only occaision where I regret not taking it… but we made it and again another easy night of putting kids to bed….

Today, Monday, we had a more simple start and with so much sugar orientated bribery going on the weekend I realized I needed to detox the children… This was easier than expected as in a piazza close to home they have just erected a merry-go-round, this is fantastic timing and the discovery of a fantastic fruit and veg shop made a sugarfree day a piece of cake (pardon the pun) .

This afternoon took a drive out to Paola and her families farm, a working olive grove, the kids had a swim and I lapped up the breathtaking views. Luckily I have gained a new baby sitter in Paola daughter, she is great and this afternoon I got to do the groceries kid free and then Aurora (the baby sitter) helped me home with the children and groceries. The children were so happy to have some new company, and we will see Aurora regularly for Italian lessons for the children/babysitting/time out for me J Either way it’s a win win for all.  Just near Paolas house is a horse riding school that we will attend tomorrow…. So much is happening every day it is like I am in a spin…. Today we booked at trip to Lampedusa for next week to join friends for a week at the beach…This involves a boat to sicily then a boat to lampedusa…. See what I mean…..a lot happening but so far, so good…. I think of how much I would love sharing this with my nearest and dearest and I hope you get a little piece of this by reading these scrambled words I managed to write tonight ….. 


  1. We do indeed get a feeling of being there Bron. Really wish we/I could come and visit. Infact it more of an "I" rather than "we" tonight. I wish I could some and visit…. for a year. Carm

  2. Carm, I wish so much that you could visit...For three reasons, 1) because you deserve it, a break, 2) I would love to see you and share this with you, and 3) you would love it... I will keep my fingers crossed for a little magic :-) None of this would have been possible without having you as my sister, I am truely blessed xxxxx molto amore mia sorella!!

  3. Hi Bron, it's Viv. Anne told me you had a blog.
    I'm not even sure if you'll get this !! Maybe I have to 'join' something ??
    Anyway, what a joy it is to read that you are all settling in well. The kids look so happy in the photos. What a wonderful experience for you all.
    We shall follow your adventures. Have fun xx

  4. Dear Bron
    I sit and read this at the end of a day and who needs to read a novel. My thoughts are with you all on this fantastic adventure and thankyou for sharing it with us all. I look forward to more great adventures and love to see the photos of you all Kate, Sim and Clan

  5. Kate and Viv and families, I am so glad you are reading the blog!!! It is the easiest way to keep in touch our movements and adventures.... It is all happening so fast that a blog seems the best way to distribute details.... lots of love xx Bron