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Tuscany Unexpected

19 June 2012 No Comment

This past weekend we were supposed to do Denmark. Laura has two grants with the university there and needed to go to a meeting – so we were all going to go, to see what’s up with Denmark. Apparently there is nothing fishy there, everyone eats nachos. But we didn’t get to find that out for ourselves.

No. When we got to the Florence Airport, our flight was canceled as it was too windy. There was talk about putting us on a bus to Bologna where we could take a flight from there, but instead Austria Air, or what ever, sent a different airplane to take us.

I need to vent for one second. Florence is a huge destination location in Italy, but the airport is not equipped to handle the crowd. I don’t know if this is by design or not, that is to say that I wonder if the small and poorly performing airport is somehow a throttle to stem the otherwise over crowding of an already crowded tourist destination. Whatever the reason, we were unable to have answers to crucial questions about our flight, catching our next flight, if our luggage would make it, and if we missed our flight could we get booked on a later flight – if there was one… it goes on. So, as everyone else was boarding, we walked out of the airport, caught a second 20 euro taxi back to our flat and made a new plan for the week.

That’s when Laura found Villa Volpi.

This image is taken from the small two story building that was our suite, (or should I say sweet) at the hotel. It took a short steep walk through the olive grove to get to and from, and it felt like I was transported back 2 hundred years – except we had plumbing and electricity and stuff.

Villa Volpi is located somewhat near both Lucca and Pisa, in the Tuscan mountains. I hadn’t realized how much I missed and needed a Tuscan fix until we arrived. When we found ourselves at this secluded place it felt like I’d found an old friend.

So, we did Pisa - Even though it was Friday we still found it too crowded (and hot) to go into anything. The tower was more amazing and beautiful than what I’d imagined. After a while we left and went back to Lucca. Lucca was a favorite of ours, and we returned several times just to walk around, and we even climbed the clock tower. This town is known for never having been attacked and so has survived all the wars in great shape. The shopping is fantastic and it seems to be surviving the economic hardships as well. Before Laura left the USA, she grabbed a book on food called “Heat” which she discovered goes into Italian cooking – mostly Tuscany food. So, of course we have to try some Trattorias while we are here. Normally we would have done food on the cheep, pizzas and pastas or whatever. But this time we have found some very good food at several places.
We finally found one in a most remote part of this area called – let me find it here – Antica Locanda di Sesto. The place has been a restaurant for over three hundred years! The food was outstanding. I had a wild boar that was fantastic, and the Tiramisu was the best I’d ever had. It was very traditional, and Addie – who simply got pasta and red sauce was blown away by how good her food was. You need a reservation made by a local – and we were fortunate enough to have Marco, our hotel manager, be considered local enough to get us a table.

This wasn’t all we did. We also went to the coast. Marco recommended a beach right by the Alps. We all got lots of sun and waves.

Now. To anyone stumbling upon this page after searching for Villa Volpi, I would say this about this hotel. It is a wonderful place to stay, but be prepared. There is little to no food before diner. There is a breakfast, and one can eat at the separate restaurant after 7:30 – which is very good. It is disorganized but worth dining at. The hotel staff is wonderful and kind and were always ready to help out in any way. We had the room on top of the hill and the views were spectacular. The kids (5 an 10) stayed up late catching fireflies and looking at stars and hoping that boar would come out of the woods, which they never did.

This last bit meant keeping the kids awake after 10:30. But they seemed to do that anyway. For some reason the sun didn’t set here until almost 10 PM! And sunrise was before 6 AM! How is this possible? No one wanted to leave when we finally made our short drive back to Florence.

We had intended to go to Denmark, but that will have to wait for another trip. Instead what we got was a Tuscany vacation. We don’t get another summer vacation and really, I couldn’t imagine spending one anywhere else in the world.

Thank you Italy!

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