Months before my daughter, who lives in Amsterdam, was to turn 30, I asked her what she’d like to do to mark the milestone. The response was swift and sure. “Go to Italy!”
Months later, I now find myself using a lovely, rustic villa — Casabianca — located about 20 minutes outside Pisa as the home port from which to explore Tuscany in early June.
I am no stranger to Italy. I have made a couple of extended trips with my husband, the last occurring in 2019. But, I had never visited Livorno. So, once settled into Casabianca, the first excursion was to the large port town on the Ligurian Sea.
We arrived on Republic Day, a national holiday celebrating the establishment of the Italian republic, so things were rather quiet, but there was a large Norwegian cruise ship docked majestically in the port.
We strolled the streets, admired the old seaside fort, Fortezza Vecchia, and enjoyed a tasty lunch, the best part of which was a wonderful local white wine, at a restaurant called The Barge in the neighborhood of Nuova Venezia.
There’s something magical about the Tuscan sun. It bathes everything in a lovely glow and coaxes the most delightful aromas out of flowering flora. But it was also brutally hot for early June.
We braved the heat and were rewarded with a great day touring Pisa where the shopping and food were scrumptious — and the tower is still leaning.
My daughter loves a good bottle of vino, so we sought out a couple of vineyards during our stay. First up was Podere Marcampo located near the Etruscan town of Volterra.
Enjoyed the wine-tasting experience, but the views were what I liked most about the place. It sits in the heart of Balze, a natural park.
Next up was Fattoria del Teso, a well-established vineyard near Montecarlo.
The wine tasting excursions in Tuscany are particularly delightful because a tasty charcuterie of local cheeses and select meats are served. The spread at Fattoria del Teso was extremely impressive with three different cheeses and a variety of salami and prosciutto along with bread and some home-grown olive oil.
After recovering from tasting six different wines at Fattoria del Teso, we journeyed to the nearby town of Lucca which I fondly remembered from my first trip to Italy.
Lucca is known for the well-perserved medieval wall that surrounds the old city center. It’s a lovely place to stroll down narrow, cobblestone streets while eating gelato.
During our stay in Tuscany, we also made a day trip to Cinque Terre for some fabulous seafood and sea air.
We chose to stop in at Manarola for the spectacular view and a bit of gelato.
But we selected Vernazza for lunch.
Today my Tuscan holiday comes to an end. I am enjoying the cool morning air sifting softly in through an open window at Casabianca while marveling at life’s mysterious journey. Three decades ago when my daughter made her entry into this world, I could not have imagined that one day we’d create such memories together under a bright Tuscan sun.
But so it goes. The very best part of my Tuscan holiday was spending time with my baby girl. Ain’t life grand?