Tuscany + Umbria, IT

The contrast of green vineyards and purple mountains, the smell of firewood and fragrant pasta sauces, the feeling of buttery soft leathers, and looking out my car window to yellow mossed trees beside salmon-colored homes, are all familiar feelings and sights from Italy.

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Italy was undoubtedly beautiful. As my dad would shift around each turn, I saw a different delightful surprise, whether it be a field of grazing sheep or a small cottage tucked under a large tree.

I was greeted by my parents in Pisa, already telling me of the pasta they had for me at the hotel. Let me tell you, the pasta was cold—but, it was amazing. It was such a nice change from the french food I’ve been having: liver pâtes, omelets, baguettes, quiche, croque madames. Oh, but of course seeing my parents and sister topped the pasta any day.

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Our trip then consisted of waking up in a town, driving to our next town (which normally happened to be placed upon a hill) and then drive to our next town where we would spend the night.

Here was our itinerary:

Pisa—>Volterra—>San Gimignano—>Sienna—>Montelcino—>Orveito ->Todi —>Spoleto—>Assisi—>Florence

As a traveler who has now planned a few of my trips, I need to give my mom props for executing such a well orchestrated trip. She had everything planned out in advance and it all worked out in terms of timing and places visited.

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Instead of speaking about every part of my trip, I am going to give some highlights besides the most obvious of getting to spend time with my family.

1. Staying in a Tuscan Farmhouse B&B in Sienna. Not only were the views breathtaking, the hospitality incredible, and great company but, they also had 6 day old kittens.

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imageMother and childimage

imageBreakfast done right at B&Bimage

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2. Watching my dad navigate the narrow and windy roads while driving through the country side. I had no idea he could drive stick!

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imageThe Driverimage

imageOur tiny carimage

3. Going on my first vineyard tour and trying wine from San Giovasi grapes followed by a fabulous lunch.

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imageThe family saves all their wine dating back to 1940’s. They drink it on special occasions. image

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4. Rushing to a thermal hot springs nestled in the mountains and taking a dip just before closing.

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5. Drinking Grappa. My dad ordered me this Italian specialty, a strong liquor made from the skins of grapes. In the small restaurant, where the waiters and patrons felt like family, the restaurant watched my reaction to the taste. I took it as a shot, because, well it came in a shot glass. I look around the restaurant and everyone was sipping theirs.

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imageWhere the Palio horse race takes place in Siennaimage

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6. The food. Particularly, coming across an amazing restaurant that happened to be empty. On my last night, we walked around in the rain looking for a restaurant all the Italians said was “not obvious,” we never found it, but came across a gem and had it to ourselves. image

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imageDad enjoying some cheeseimage

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