Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Shangrila…

June 21-26, 2010

We rented a villa for the week we spent in Tuscany.  Bad things first – it was IMPOSSIBLE to find.  There were bad directions, bad signage and we couldn’t speak Italian, and the owner could not speak much English or French – so he was unable to direct us on the phone.  We ended up going in circles and not getting there until around 1am.  This place gave new meaning to the phrase “in the middle of nowhere”.  We took the photos below to show you the efficacy of the signage – the first two show the signage as you are driving up – and the third is on the way back (i.e. you see it when you realize you have gone the wrong way and turn around).  I must note, that it has an arrow that is clearly pointing into a cow field – not so helpful…. and utterly wrong. None of these were visible in the dark.

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OK, done with negativity.  La Campanella was heaven – they do say it is hard to get there, right?  It was an entire house, with 2 bedrooms, a living room, dining room, bathroom and large well-equipped kitchen.  It was located in Tuscany about 40 minutes from Lucca and less than 2 hours from Pisa, Florence, Livorno and Cinque Terre. Heck, Rome is only 320km away!  Linens, towels and cleaning were included in the price.  Best of all, it was affordable – only 50 Euros a night for our family of 5.  And let me tell you, for Tuscany in June that is a steal.  I was getting quotes for over 200 Euros a night pretty much standard for the same area.  And did I mention we had our own private POOL???  It was a bit cold for swimming, but we did it anyway.

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While I was lounging by the pool, soaking in the views and rejoicing in my good fortune, the kids had swings and other things to play with.  We could have stayed forever….

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The kids and André spent one whole afternoon playing in the little stream than ran nearby.  I couldn’t believe it, but André even got his knees dirty! They eventually managed to divert the stream – (dug a new channel) and it was still that way before we left.

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We hung out here all day Monday, Wednesday and part of Friday.  We spent the time resting, swimming and sharing the Star Wars trilogy with the kids (the originals, not the newer ones).  Griffin was a bit scared but Callie and Zander loved it.   We also tried something different with the cooking.  I love to eat out, but we really can’t afford it – so we just went out a few times and mostly cooked in the house.  This time I did some research and found a site with Italian easy to make recipes using local ingredients.   It is located at http://www.slowtrav.com/italy/recipes/jg_cookbook.htm.  I made Crema di Pomodora, Fusion Pasta with Gorgonzola and Pecans, Pasta Ispirata da Sicilia, Bistecca con Salsa di Gorgonzola, Sformata di Porri and Fast Grilled Tomatoes (without a grill).  Everything was amazing except for the Sformata- that was too much work for the result.   It was awesome, like eating out without the cost – the prices at the local town were quite reasonable and I only spent about 100 Euros on groceries.  There was so much to do in the area, I really want to return some day and spend 2 or 3 weeks here.

There were lizards…

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Some more beauty…. ahh….

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Did I mention I want to go back yet?  If you want to go check out http://www.lacapannella.com/ and let me know – because we might just tag along….

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