Chianti Anyone?

Bike and door in ItalyWhile in search of the Tuscan sunshine and the land of Chianti wine, we made our way from Spain along the Mediterranean coastline to Italy. On route we did make a couple of stops to break up the drive for both the kids sake and ours.France Hat in AvignonOur first stop was back in beloved France. Here, we spent a couple of nights in the city of Avignon.Fortified Avignon townscape in FrancePalace of the Popes in Avignon, FrancePalace of the Popes in Avignon, FranceIn the 1300’s, Avignon was the seat of the Catholic Popes and remained under Papal rule until 1791 when it then became part of France. The town itself is surrounded by medieval stone ramparts and in the centre you will find the very cool Palace of the Popes. You don’t have to be Catholic to be enthusiastic about the history of this building and making your way to the top of the ramparts is worth the effort as the city views from the there are amazing.Riding the Avignon merry-go-round in FranceThat being said, Lydia’s favorite thing in Avignon was not the Palace of the Popes or the historical Saint-Benezet Bridge. It was the Merry-go-round. That and the Nutella Crepes.Taggia town Centre, ItalyAfter our stay in Avignon we made our way across the Italian border to the small seaside town of Taggia where we would again spend a couple of nights.Hanging at the beach in Taggia, Italy While in the area we were hoping to make our way to the Italian ghost town Balestrino, but it would mean a 4 hour drive. In the end, we opted to spend the day relaxing at the beach.Hanging at the beach in Taggia, Italy Although I know I will regret not seeing the ghost town, at that particular moment in time, hanging at the beach and exploring the streets of Taggia just seemed like a way better option.rental home in Empoli, Tuscany in ItalyAnd then we made it to Empoli in the Western portion of Tuscany. Our little house ( in the Italian countryside was a perfect location and even came with 2 dogs and three cats. One of the dogs, Tina, looked very similar to our Winston, so of course we all took a shining to her. Pisa 1First on our agenda while visiting Tuscany, was a trip to Pisa to see the Leaning Tower and check out the city.Holding up the leaning tower of Pisa in ItalyWe were all really surprised at just how much the tower actually leans. I guess all the buildings lean in Pisa to some degree, but you really notice it with the tower which started to sink during construction of the second level in 1178.Arno River running through the town of Pisa, ItalyThe town of Pisa is quite beautiful with loads of historical buildings, town plazas, narrow streets and riverfront walkways.

Cafe in Pisa, Itlay

Of course no trip would be complete without trying the baked goods.

Motorbikes line the streets in Florence, Italy

On the third day, we made our way to Florence by train where we literally walked around the city for over 7 hours. So much to see and do here. Here are a few shots we took while taking in the sights of Florence.

Florence, Italy
Florence, ItalyFlorence, ItalyFlorence, Italy

Florence, Italy

Statue of god of wine in the Boboli Gardens in Florence, ItalyKids favorite statue in Florence and quite possibly all of Italy was in the Boboli Gardens. Oddly enough, it is a statue of the god of wine. Not sure why he is riding on the back of a tortoise.

Volterra, Italy

After a long day in Florence we were all pretty exhausted, so the next day we decided to make the low-key 45 minute drive to the quiet little mountainous town called Volterra. Neat little town and for those that are not huge Twilight fans, I will tell you that this is the town from which the very powerful Volturi Vampire family comes from. I know, I know, nobody else was excited about this but me. I even wanted to have a twilight movie night after our visit…everyone said no.

Torture Museum in Volterra, Italy

Nothing scary about this little town except for the Torture Museum. Lydia and I decided to hang at the cafe and visit with some of the local pets while Paul and Callum checked out the museum. A bit too gory for us gals. Froofy vampire movies are one thing, but real life means of human torture…no thank you.

Streets of Volterra, ItalyVolterra, Italy

Volterra also has the remains of an ancient Roman Amphitheater. Too Cool! Can you imagine what went on here back in the day?

Small town of Vinci where Leonardo was baptised and home to the Vinci Museum
We kept it pretty low-key again the following day and went to the nearby town called Vinci. This town is home to the Vinci museum and the church next to the bell tower in the photo is where Leonardo da Vinci was baptised in April 1452. The small farm-house where Leonardo was born is 3 km up the road from the museum.

Leonardo da Vinci Museum in the town of Vinci, Italy

The museum is filled with models and drawings of Leonardo’s inventions.

Siena city, Italy

Last on the agenda was a drive through Chianti region and a visit to Siena. As with many Tuscan towns, it is like stepping back in time when visiting.

Fonte Gaia or the fountain of joy in the Piazza del Campo in Siena, Italy
Tuscany was everything I was hoping it would be. Beautiful countryside, Cypress tree-lined estates, sprawling vineyards, romantic castles and historical sites. What else could you ask for.

After 10 days, we now have to say arrivederci to Italy and Hallo to Innsbruck, Austria where we will hang our hats for 5 days.



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