If you’ve been following along with us for a while you’ll maybe remember that last year we took a road trip right across the top of Italy during August. It was an amazing adventure, and we came home buzzing with enthusiasm for independent travel, and all the experiences it afforded us. It’s a very different sort of holiday from the norm, but one that we enjoyed so much. The thing that struck me most I think, was how accessible everything is within Europe. It’s the wonders of the modern age, I guess, that we can have breakfast in one country, and lunch in entirely another. For children, the magic lies in those little intricacies I believe. It’s exciting to see their minds process them!
This Summer we were asked to be part of a project in collaboration with Airbnb and Tantrum XYZ, and to take a trip to the Tuscan countryside to write some pieces on its suitability for families. It took us about five hours to drive through from France and we made the journey, both there and back, in one block. If you were following over on Instagram in the last few weeks, you’ll maybe have caught a glimpse of our few days in Tuscany. It was super, heatwave-hot (even the locals were saying so!) and we were actually really thankful that we had a busy, sight-seeing trip planned. I’m not sure it would even have been possible to sunbathe!
Our Airbnb was beautiful – set up in the Tuscan hills and surrounded by cypress and olive trees and vineyards. It was perched on the edge of a tiny village where the youngest inhabitant after us was in their late fifties. 🙂 It felt like proper, rural Italy though – a million miles away from the nightlife culture of tourist resorts. The little Tabacchi in Bacchereto provided us with our morning ‘Cappucino a via’ (Coffee to go!) and the most amazing apricot pastries, freshly made. Apart from that we opted to eat out while we were there. This part of Italy we found to be so reasonable in terms of prices, and everything was just so very delicious.
On our first full day we travelled into Florence, about an hour away by car. We made an effort to get there early, aware that the heat and crowds might make it unbearable later in the day, and we made a beeline for the Boboli Gardens first of all. Constructed by Leonora Medici in the 16th Century as an escape from the intense heat of the city, these gardens are full of shady spots, gorgeous views and plenty of naked statues. 😉 We also were totally feeling Leonora on the whole heat thing. It’s worth noting that we finished our morning here with lots of insect bites too – I guess it’s an occupational hazard in garden areas – if you are visiting it’s perhaps wise to carry some insect repellent with you.
The afternoon was spent wandering in the main city, and with a really good kid’s tour at the Palazzo Vecchio too. From a pocket history of the Medici family, to exploring the secret passageways of the Palazzo itself, the kids really loved this hour and a half long tour, and we did too!
It was so nice to escape the city heat and head back to the cool of the hills in the evening. The mistral wind picks up in this area of Tuscany around 6pm each evening, and the breeze was so welcome after a day spent in sticky streets. After a full day on the go, we all headed to bed quite early each evening, but our property was full of modern conveniences had you wanted them – from Netflix to a state of the art sound system, even a full library of books and two guitars for those so inclined! 😉
On our second full day we travelled to Lucca, the little walled city that we had heard so much about. We hired a family bike first off and got our bearings by cycling the city walls. It took around thirty minutes in total and was well worth it. The kids loved it (even if Andrew and I did most of the pedalling!) and it was a brilliant way to work off all that gelato too!
I’ll be honest and say that Lucca itself underwhelmed us a little. It could be because we hit it on the hottest day (it was 43C!) or because it was particularly busy owing to the Italian holiday period, but we found it somewhat overcrowded and not just as pretty as we’d hoped. There is definite charm in its little streets, but it’s hard to find one that’s not rammed with people. We had a beautiful lunch though,and then jumped in the car (praise be for air-con!) and took a drive North to the hills surrounding this area.
On day three we decided to stay more locally, and took a shorter trip to nearby Vinci, birth place and home of Leonardo da Vinci. It was the sweetest little village, preserved impeccably and now home to a museum of the inventor’s life and work too. Noah loved it, and it really connected the dots for him between the architecture of Florence, and these more rural towns too. Andrew was very enthusiastic about it all too, so the girls and I left them to it for most of it and were happy to find a seat in the cool!
It was such a lovely trip – and one that we’ll remember for years to come. I’d say that Tuscany is a brilliant destination for families, though to get the most out of it, it probably is best with slightly older children. If you were staying for an extended period you might want to seek out accommodation with a swimming pool too. Our Airbnb suited us perfectly whilst we had so many plans to be out during the day, but the respite of a cool swim after sightseeing might be appealing in the fiercest heat of Summer.
It is such a stunningly beautiful place though, we feel very privileged to have seen it. Travelling with these guys is always my favourite.
** We were sent on this trip by Airbnb and Tantrum XYZ for the purposes of producing content featured both here and elsewhere. Airbnb covered all travel costs and expenses for this portion of our trip. All words, opinions and images are entirely our own.**