A trip to Tuscany

Around 4 years ago we travelled to Italy. The girls were 2 and 3 years old and can only remember certain aspects of their trip, although surprisingly given how young they were they do remember some parts of it. We had stayed close to the coast during our last visit, visiting places like Rome, Sorrento and Lucca. Rome was as you would expect it to be, a beautiful city to visit full of history and culture but also incredibly busy with tourists. It is one of those places you have to visit at least once, just to appreciate the history. 

Sorrento had some of the most stunning views I have ever seen and that have stayed with me for the past 4 years. I don’t think I will ever witness views as stunning as those again, although I do hope I can come close at some point. Dark blue sea spanning as far as the eye can see on a picturesque backdrop of trees and mountains. The warm Italian sun glistening on the water made it an idyllic setting and in fact we even saw several couples getting married there.

The Tuscany region was just as beautiful. Next time we visit we are looking at renting a tuscan coast villa and renting a car to explore more of this beautiful region. Our first trip to the region we only touched on the surface of what Tuscany has to offer. Our time was short and our focus was ticking off those more familiar places. During our previous visit our first stop in the Tuscany region was a visit to Lucca. Lucca is a city on the Serchio river in Italy’s Tuscany region. The city centre is completed surrounded by a historic city wall. Lucca is incredibly picturesque, the cobbled streets and stunning architecture made for a picture perfect backdrop. The city walls have paths to walk on, but be wary of the huge drops, and cycle routes. We saw people taking picnics up to the city walls to enjoy the Italian sunshine. The narrow streets and old houses add to the charm of the city. Inside the city is the Piazza Anfiteatro. This Oval plaza is on site of Roman amphitheater, ringed by medieval houses. Given how crowded the rest of the city is, it suddenly opens out here into a giant oval plaza. It was here that we decided to stop for our lunch. I can remember sitting in the plaza looking at the houses and shops and eating pizza. It was a true Italian experience. I would love to visit again.

The city centre of Lucca may have been small but there was so much compacted into such a small space. We hired a local tour guide. She had been born in Lucca so understood the history of the city. She would weave in and out of the narrow streets pointing out all the historic sites. The architecture to some of the buildings were like out of storybooks. Churches and cathedrals dotted around the city too. It was hard to believe all of this was within the city walls. I would certainly recommend hiring a tour guide, and ideally one from Lucca as there is just so much to see and this really was a great way to ensure we saw as much as possible. 

Renting a villa would provide us with a base to explore more of the beautiful Tuscany region. Last time we visited Pisa the girls were far too young to really fully appreciate what it is. The area around Pisa is very exposed with little shade and I just think they got too hot and bothered last time. If we were to hire a villa we would have to travel to Pisa again, as I think the girls are more likely to ask questions and therefore become interested in what is there. I think now they are older they are more likely to appreciate Pisa and also create a memory of it to share later in life. One of the ways we engaged the girls last time was with a horse ride. It took us not only round the square but also through Pisa showing us some of the lesser known sites. If we are lucky enough to visit again we would do the horse ride again, as the horse also seemed to spend most of the time in the shade so not only did we learn a lot about Pisa we also kept cool! 

When looking at places to visit in the Tuscany region one of the top recommended areas is the island of Elba. Whilst it might be known for Napoleon’s place of exile in 1814–15 it is also known for its stunning beaches. Until I started planning a trip to Tuscany I hadn’t really heard much about it. The beaches however look beautiful. Crystal clear water and golden sands. I think it would be the perfect way to spend a day, and also a great place to unwind and relax. There is a ferry to take you to the island which means we could travel early from a villa and spend the whole day there.

Of course no holiday to Tuscany would be complete with ice cream or Italian gelato. We found plenty of places dotted around on our travels and all of them had gelato, even the ones in the mountains. 

A villa holiday is perfect for families such as mine. Three young children who require attention and also crave some kind of normality or routine. Villa holidays are great for having the home from home comforts and providing your own personal space to relax. Using the villa as a base we can then explore everything that the Tuscany area has to offer. 

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