If I don’t actually put this down in writing I’m going to forget we ever went there. We went to Tuscany. It was better than I expected.
Personally, I don’t plan vacations I pack for them. I really never have any idea where we’re going or what we’re doing because mostly I’m just there for the food. On this trip I tried to diet and ended up eating large quantities of Cheetos at night. That’s right. I passed up bakeries all day long then went home and consoled myself with handful after handful of floating imitation food. So lame.
This was probably our last trip with Rebecca’s family. They have been our dearest friends over here and we have visited something like 22 countries together, all with kids in tow (except for last August in Rhodes where they went and made another kid). This was also our first trip with eight children. You might think baby Jemma doesn’t count, but she soooo does.
We stayed on Camp Darby’s ghost town base, and for an additional fee of $90 had access to pool and beaches. But our unit had a kitchen and AC and it was within a reasonable distance of Pisa, Florence, San Gimignano and, most importantly Cinque Terre so I’m not complaining.
As we rolled into town after a grueling drive from Germany we decided to get Pisa out of the way. When it came time to see the “Pizza Tower” our kids moaned and whined that we had to go to “another stupid tower.” They usually associate all towers with the Tower of Terror now and everyone cries when we suggest we see one. I’m not that mom who takes amazing photos of our family on vacation. Prepare to be disappointed with my point and shoot methods.
We didn’t go to the top because A) I hate heights and get serious anxiety when my children are close to death and B) it was really expensive and we were, as usual, cheap.
The next day was Sunday so we sniffed out the local Mormon branch and took the kids. I’d like to say they were excited to see us but I think they were mostly overwhelmed. They went from three kids to ten kids in the primary and none of ours speak Italian. We wanted the kids to have the Italian primary experience but they sectioned us off and gave us their one English speaking sister and took the other kids in a separate room. Kind of a bummer, but RS was great.
After that we went to San Gimignano to do a walking tour in the hot Italian afternoon sun. Driving there was so surreal, kind of felt like we were in a movie. You can see the city on the distant hillside. This is my best friend Rebecca, and I don’t use that term lightly. I’ve had a few wonderful friends over the years and this one is right at the top. My heart will break when they move away, I love her dearly. We are, however, going to be on the Amazing Race someday because we would totally win it. She is a traveling animal, taxi drivers quake in their boots when she tells them what to do and the girl hasn’t missed a train yet. I’m, again, mostly along for the food which usually makes me pretty good company.
The village was picturesque and peaceful and quaint–until we got there. Actually the kids were all quite good, there are just so many of them. We were like an invading army searching for ice cream and contraband.
Cute girls, the kids all have such a knack for accidentally posing in great places. This is just a resting spot but weren’t they adorable. Below you can see a partial group photo. We moved through the village in a sticky wave of skipping feet and fingers that wanted to touch everything.
That Rex. He always sits down the second we pause for anything.
As we made our final pass through the city the kids took up carrying Georgia around in the fireman’s carry and singing, “Georgia, the Queen!” to the tune of Here Comes the Bride, at the top of their lungs. It was kind of hilarious, lots of quiet laughter followed them. We took a photo as we exited the city and they decided to all be very serious so we could see that they were a formal procession. I really, really hope Harrison marries Kiyah someday and we can have a real procession. They are best friends.
Don’t you love June’s dress, BTW? I had great plans to make her an entire summer wardrobe, with matching dresses for Georgia. I finished one. The end.
The next day we took the train to Cinque Terre, the world famous set of little villages only accessible by train, that I didn’t know existed. Actually, I think I’ve seen photos of them before but it was a delightful surprise to me. The train runs along the coast and you can get off and eat and hike through the villages. I would name the chain of villages we saw but I no longer remember them and don’t have the patience to look them up on Google. Feel free if you’d like to know more.
FYI, we had our camera on some funky bright mode so it’s a little more muted in real life. Still, what a day and what a view. I really wanted the kids to take a hike so I could make out with Jason but it mostly didn’t happen.
As you can see the day was not without its…difficulties. June had a few moments that lasted most of the day.
We ended up at the beach and were there just long enough to find an uncomfortable spot and let all the kids get wet (5 minutes) before the wind kicked in and we got kicked out of the water. It was cold and miserable, the low point for the day. But the train ride back was fun and I’d still give this one 4 out of 5 brownie points.
The next day was a beach and pool day. If I could have relaxed without fighting off the peddlers every four minutes it would have been delightful. They carry their wares in packs and on carts and stop at every pedestrian sitting on the sand to try and sell their stuff. It was so hard to be polite all day, one of them should try selling signs that say NO SOLICITING, I’M TRYING TO GET A TAN. Now there’s a million dollar idea.
Thank you, Grandma Diane for sending the world’s cutest swimsuits to my girls.
The next day we went to Florence. It was a wild trip, we had to take the train in and it took three tries to get on the correct train because they kept messing with the schedule and herding us from train to train. We would board, settle, then jump off and follow the crowd to the next train. The third train was the charm, it was about a 45 minute ride.
We wandered around with all eight children for a good hour before we finally found the Duomo, the big Florence cathedral, constructed under the average 200 year building contract. It was finally finished in the 15th century. Quite the building, we accidentally circled it a few times during the day.
We also went to the outdoor leather market and I got me a gorgeous green purse for 50 euro that I saw in Prague at a shop for 170 euro. It was a nice feeling.
But the big event for the day was seeing The David. I never thought a naked man could be so impressive, but in person he was really quite the thing. The kids loved it, we talked a lot ahead of time about David and Goliath and you can see the stones in his hand and the sling over his shoulder. Rebecca parked on the bench directly behind him to nurse so I stared at his butt for 15 minutes. I have a new respect.
The rest of the day was hot and there was ice cream. At five we debated whether or not to board a city bus and drag the kids to one more site, but as soon as we stepped on June started bawling hysterically and we literally walked straight through with all eight kids and exited out the back door. We took the train home.
Have you noticed Georgia’s Tuscany pose? It showed up every time the camera was turned on her. This is Georgia’s baby that she got on clearance for three dollars. It’s Italian.
Finally, our last big trip was to Luca, the little walled city with delightful shopping that we wistfully missed because children and boutiques don’t mix. Our friends left for Venice that morning. We had a lovely day–minus half an hour where Jason and I weren’t speaking to each other. I will go ahead and post a picture of us during this time. You can see that I did not want to be in the photo, I’m the one with the “do not take my picture right now” expression sitting in the backseat of the bicycle built for six. It’s an awful picture but, hey, this is real life.
We mostly made up after turning in the bike and enjoyed wandering through the village with the kids. We found these adorable local dollies and sadly passed them up, then found them again in a different boutique for a quarter of the price. We came home with two new babies.
All things considered, this was a fabulous trip. I would do it again in a heartbeat. (Also I think I’ve blocked out some of the less desirable parts.)