Thursday, May 29, 2008

A Whole Week has gone by

It's Friday morning here in Tuscany and I can't believe a whole week has gone by. We're still having an amazing time. It rained almost all day yesterday...nice because it has been hot hot hot here. This is a much needed break from the heat.

Tuesday, the rest of the group went off to Rome (check out their pics at while Dick and I "stayed in". After a very lazy morning, we hopped in the car and drove through the Chianti region to a small town called Greve...another cute Italian wine town. We had lunch, a bottle of prosecco, then wound our way back to the villa. Here's a shot of the centro of Greve.
We've been spending most of our evenings at the wine fest in Montespertoli....we're starting to feel like a native....or as close as you can get in 5 days...we even have a favorite restaurant where the owners are getting to know us. I can't even figure out the name of the restaurant but I'll know before the end of the week...I just know that it's next to the lady that sells fresh cherries.

Wednesday we went to San Gimignano with Ron, Pam & Sally. What an amazing little's a few pics. Of course, before we even got to town, we had to stop for some wine and olive oil tasting...

It's like stepping back in time once you get within the walls of San Gimignano...this city is known as the city of beautiful towers and 14 original ones are still standing.

This is in the center of town...this cisterne provided the town's water for many years.

Sally and I climbed one of the towers and this is what we saw!!!! We must have lingered up there for an hour, it was so takes your breath away.

Just an Italian back alley that Sally and I stumbled upon. Can you see those frescoes on the wall?

Monday, May 26, 2008

If it's Monday, this must be Florence

I don't need to tell you that we're having a fabulous time but here are a few pics to prove it. It's actually Tuesday morning now and I finally have some time to really sit down and blog. It's been a whirlwind 3 days already!!! I'll spend a few lines here telling you about our villa. It's about 3 km from a teeny, tiny town called Montespertoli. Lucky for us, there's a Chianti wine festival going on there this week because otherwise, I think it's a pretty sleepy little town. The great news is that we are walking distance...the bad news, it's a hilly, windy road and you really have to keep your wits about you because there are cars, bikes, motorcyles, coming at you at high rates of speed. But it's a picturesque walk and we've done it once already. The villa is huge...there are 8 of us and we could all be at different places in the house and never run into each other. In fact, we have two bedrooms, each with 3 twin beds that aren't even being used. It's old, but Yves has a done a beautiful job of restoration....beautiful clean white walls, stone floors, marble countertops in the kitchen...for use, not show...a million windows that open onto the incredible views I showed you on Saturday. The villa is at the top of a hill so we have a spectacular view into the valley of olive trees and vineyards. Dick and I have the outer bedroom....maybe a garage??? Separated from the house by a small walkway, a bedroom and bath that has doors opening onto the patio which look down in the valley. The bed faces the door so we go to sleep at night gazing down at the valley lights and wake every morning to the view...too spectacular for this amateur blogger to even put into words.

The dinner we had on Sunday cooked by Carla, Yves' chef also was indescribable and huge...and here a note about $$$$....since I don't have a Euro button on the computer. Things don't seem overly expensive here, even with the dollar where it is...we've managed to find "cheap" eats for lunch and there's a small market in Montespertoli where we've bought groceries. Obviously, being in the villa and being able to buy staples makes a huge difference in cost. At the wine festival....where we've already purchased 8 bottles of wine and need to restock soon....the most we paid for awesome wine was 5 Euro....most of our bottles were 3.50 we're drinking much better wine for much cheaper than at home. Our private chef cost us 30 Euro per person but we all ate way too much that night....then ate leftovers last night...and we still have food leftover for tonight....and that included wine :)

Today Dick and I are on our own...and he's still sleeping. The rest of the group are in Rome. Sally, Ron & Pam are headed back this evening...David & Gina come home tomorrow night and Stanage is on her way to Pompeii and we're not sure when we'll see her next.

Okay, one last thing before I get to a few photos. We (Me, Dick, Ron, Pam & Sally) piled into our little VW Golf and drove into Florence yesterday. We were fine driving in....around 11 yesterday morning (along with "Alice" our Nuvi GPS)...but we timed it badly and came out right about 5:30....yep, rush hour....unfortunately none of us took any video but I'm sure it will be the funniest story of the trip. Thankfully, Dick is an awesome driver and all that time spent on the track with his car has finally paid off!!!! Cars, buses, scooters, motorcylcles and bikes....all sharing the road...which, by the way, does not have any lines so it's pretty much a free for all....but it is controlled chaos!!! And now...proof that we're still in Italy!!

There's just no way we can pass up taking funny car pics. This is a one seater electric car....with gas at about $9 per gallon makes sense.
The famous Ponte was a beautiful, sunny day in Florence and after dropping some coins on the Ponte Vecchio...yes, Pam and I both bought jewelry...we had a beautiful walk through town. I never tire of this view down the Arno....

You can't send 5 marathon runners to Italy and not expect us to climb every staircase there is! We did climb the 463 steps up to the Cupola in the Duomo to witness this gorgeous Florentine landscape.
And from the bottom of the steps....the Duomo.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Day Tre in Italia

Buena Sera!! That's us girls on the way home from Montespertoli this morning.
Wow...I can't begin to tell you how indescribably beautiful it is here. After a much needed night of sleep, we were up this morning ready to start our Tuscan adventure. Sally, unable to sleep, was up at 3:00 am chomping at the bit for the rest of us to awaken...Gina & David were next, Dick and I were up by 9, Pam & Ron shortly behind and Stanage about 10...once we were all up having decaf coffee (what's the point??)...we decided to walk into Montespertoli for our morning expresso...for those of us who need the caffeine!! There's the chianti festival going on this week in Montespertoli so it's a happening place...even on Sunday. We had tasted about six wines and bought plenty all before noon. It's been a relatively slow pace today...I guess that's what happens when you drink wine in the morning. We took a ride into Empoli to check out the train station...note to self or anyone else: Empoli...don't bother. I don't need to say more. Here's a group pic from today and I'll say ciao! We have a private chef coming into the villa tonight to make us dinner...a full report to follow tomorrow!!!
Oh, just another amazing moment. We came home from dinner in Lucardo last night...Robin at should be proud of me...I've actually remembered the name of the restaurant (Volta) but alas, I did not take pics of food....sorry Robin!!! Anyway, after a delicious meal and plenty of wine, we arrived back at our villa, went out to our patio that overlooks the Tuscan hills and I'll be darned if there weren't fireworks going off in the distance....what a perfect ending to our first perfect day in Tuscany.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Bueno Sera

Despite the drama of the morning with our car not showing up, everything else went off without a hitch!! An on-time flight to Washington, DC and an on-time flight to fact, we arrived Rome 30 minutes early. It was an easy lost luggage...straight to the Avis counter to pick up our VW Golf!!! Just enough car to fit two people and all of our luggage!!! So, here we are at our villa in Tuscany. It was an easy drive up the A1 and we had great directions from Yves, the French owner of our villa. Dick and were early so we had lunch (pizza & chianti, of course), in Montespertoli...that, after driving around in circles three times :) Anyway, we are here at this wonderful, fabulous, romantic, rustic villa in the heart of Tuscany. I can't even begin to explain how beautiful and perfect it is. So, without further ado, here are some pics:

Friday, May 23, 2008

Off We Go!!

So, here we are!!! Dulles airport waiting for our Rome flight which, so far, appears to be on time. We had a hectic start to our day but things are much more relaxed now. We got up this morning at a reasonable time, 6:00 a.m.....had breakfast...did last minute packing. At about 7 I said to Dick "this is why I would prefer to take our own car...when we're ready, we just go". He had booked us a sedan to take us to the airport with a 7:30 a.m. pickup...we had a 10:19 flight so we wanted to be at the airport no later than 8:15. So we sat around, read the paper...7:15, 7:20, 7:25, 7:28, 7:30...still no car. At 7:35, Dick called the car company...5 minutes on kidding...5 minutes!!! Finally I couldn't stand it...sent him outside to pack up our car while I waiting for a representative. Short car explanation...ugh!!!!! Luckily, we were able to drive ourselves but so much drama so early...on a day that I was sooo looking forward to being relaxing :(

Now here we are sitting in the Red Carpet Club having my last glass of wine because I need Ambien to sleep on that overnight and Ambien....from experience I know that's a bad mix!!!

Next time you hear from me we'll be in Italy!!!!! Ciao :)

Saturday, May 17, 2008

5 Days and A Wakeup

I can't believe that we're only 5 days away from being in Italy again. It seems like ages ago that we were there. Here's a little teaser...taken from the Ponte Vecchio in Florence. I can't wait!!!!! Today was spent starting the preparations: copying passports & credit cards, paying bills, calling credit card companies, getting my folder of important travel docs ready i.e. air itineraries, car itineraries, directions to the villa...woo hoo!!!! Now I'm getting very excited. I also started pulling out clothes so I can start packing...I think I'm bringing enough clothes to last me the summer....just in case :)

Happy 6 Month Birthday to Kimi

I can't believe it, but our little girl is already 6 months old!!! Can you believe how big she's getting??? Remember all those sleepless nights and the constant watch over her? She's grown into a really sweety. She still has her moments. According to our trainer, she's too social and excitable so having people come over to the the a challenge. She just wants to greet them like crazy...and that includes some jumping. Right now it's our biggest challenge because otherwise, she's been pretty good. With my going back to work, she's back in her crate during the day but it doesn't seem to affect her much. She'll even go in now without any prompting. She's still sleeping in bed with us and I have to tell you...there's nothing sweeter than waking up to her lying next to us in the middle of the night. Who says dogs don't snuggle?? Anyway...this is how we/she spent her birthday. I spent the day starting to pack for Italy!!!!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Have You Missed Me?

I know it's been forever since I've posted. The new job is keeping me so busy that I am exhausted when I get home at night and not in the mood for blogging. I love being back at work...feeling productive and social again. It's a great group of people that I'm working with and I think this could be a really long term thing.

Lots going on in our world...the best is that my nephew, Cory, is back from Iraq safe and sound. I haven't seen him since he's in Louisiana but my sis has sent pics and hopefully I'll talk to him soon. It's such a relief to have him home!!!

My sweety has been home now for a couple weeks and that's been awesome. He's so much fun to have around and handy too!!!
On to more fun things. Only 10 days before we're off to Italy again!!! I am so psyched but so busy that I hardly have time to think about it. Here's a little taste of where we're gonna be hanging out!!!

f course, being in Italy means we won't be with our friends here in the hood. Speaking of which, here's some pics from our Friday martini party...good times were definitely had by all. We each made two kinds of martinis (at least that was the plan...we never made it to my 2nd)...but Judy & Kristi had a lemon drop contest....girlies, both were delish!!!! Here's our awesome neighbors!!!

Here's me and my sweety...loving my hair, by the way, and loving my sweety!!!

And, of course, here's a pic of both of my babies!!!
And while you're out here in blogland, pop on over to Robin Sparrows One Lap for Life blog and read about his fun driving adventure. You'll find him here at
and check out the other Robin's blog at Her travel tip Tuesdays are awesome, as well as her beautiful pictures and vivid memories. I wish I could pack her in my bag and take her to Italy with me!!! And last, but not least, don't forget to check out our Italy trip blog at

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Italy Blog 2008

Click on the title above and check out our 2008 Italy Trip blog. Dick and I, along with 6 good friends are spending two weeks in a villa in Tuscany. Be sure to check this out because we will all be posting so there will be tons of fun information and pictures!!!

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