We left Cinque Terre and next stop was one of the most amazing buildings in the world – The Leaning Tower of Pisa. We managed a ‘Hollywood park’ pretty much bang on next to this amazing tower. It was obviously tourist central but pretty good to see nonetheless. Ez had been here about 30 years ago so we wanted to re-create her photo with the kids. However, I think somehow the whole world must have seen her photo as they all were trying the same thing.
Evie and Pipes – We have never been so embarrassed in all our life. I’ve got a great idea, let’s go to this amazing tower and make us kids do a stupid photo exactly the same as everyone else. Then let’s watch mum and dad do the same thing. I really hope none of my friends from back home see it. I don’t think mum and dad need to worry about friends as any more photos like this, they’ll have none!
From Pisa we headed to the beautiful little town of Lucca for another great lunch and cycled around the top of the old city walls. The girls took much delight in sending a ‘Ciao’ to everyone that came the other way. Daddy would have but was having trouble breathing. After the bikes we headed to our next destination, the stunning city of Firenze (or Florence for the uneducated, like me). It was here that we stayed in a converted castle, quite amazing just on the outskirts of town (15 min bus to city centre). Pipes loved it as it was a castle and there were 100 lemon/orange trees that she could pick.
We spent a couple days of hustle and bustle exploring this beautiful city. We were even here for Mother’s Day where Ez got to receive her home made fan and card, buy herself a scarf at the markets and have a good lunch. We checked out the major sights like The Duomo (spectacular), Ponte Vecchio etc.
We came across an unusual sight one day in the city. There was about 70 teenage girls in a large circle singing. At first we thought it was some sort of protest but on closer inspection we realised they were singing one direction songs with t-shirts with Mrs Styles, Mrs Malik on the back, quite hilarious. It was a One Direction fan club type gathering in the city, hilarious. For the next couple hours Pipes was belting out ‘baby you light up my life like nobody else’ as we walked the city.
Pipes & Evie – Yep it’s true, we love 1D. Beats looking at an old guy whose head looks like a bulldog eating custard…I’m looking at you dad!
Next stop on the adventure was our farmhouse in Tuscany. I’ve always wanted to say that, farmhouse in Tuscany. To be honest though until a few month ago I probably didn’t really know where it was! We stayed in what may be the world’s smallest town. There were about 10 houses clumped together and pigs walking down the main street (I’m talking the animal kind before you ask).
We were staying on a large property where the girls could run wild. At night we would generally cook dinner and light a fire to keep us warm. My earlier fire lighting skills had seemed to desert me as there was more smoke than a Greek pub. Ez decided to have a crack and of course she now claims to be the family provider, 5 minutes in it was so hot the chickens were laying hard boiled eggs. We had a week here to explore the rolling hills. Highlights included:
- Visiting the ancient towns of Siena and San Gimignano (which I may or may not have had trouble pronouncing. It’s hard, you try…isn’t it?)
- Soaking in some thermal hot springs with the locals (apparently my birthday suit was not the correct attire, oh well, next time).
- Staying on a pig farm (the pigs were pretty free range here, well as free range as farmed pigs can be). They had acres and acres of farm land and forest to explore, free to come and go as they please. They lived on acorns and we even found some a few kms down the road one day. The girls got to pat some 2 day old piglets. Lets just say they were happier than a pig in …
- Running into a fellow Aussie ‘Flighty’ in a small supermarket in Tuscany. She thought at first I was just the Italian version of myself…Massimo?
- Checking out a stage of the Giro d’Italia (that’s a cycling race before you ask) in Chianti (as well as sampling some of the local wine of course).
- Also getting to meet a number of Evie’s aliases. At any one time she may go by the name of George (Peppa Pig’s brother), Elsa (from Frozen) or Buddy (think that one’s form the Care Bears) or Baby Koala. She stays in character so well that she won’t answer you if you call her Evie without correcting you about her real name. She’s also got a pretty good sense of humour and already likes to wind me up. Piper asks her who is her favourite sister, she answers Piper. I ask who her favourite daddy is, she answers mummy. I ask who her favourite mummy is then, she answers Erica! I get nothing.
Piper quote from Tuscany
Piper – Evie, don’t stick things up your nose as I once got some tuna stuck in my nose.
Daddy – Piper how did you get Tuna stuck up your nose?
Piper – I was making a moustache.
On from our Tuscany home we headed to Umbria where we would stay near the awesome town of Perugia. We checked into our accommodation, a converted 13th century cow barn, hosted by one of the nicest people we have met the whole trip, Grazia and her husband Cristiano. Everyone was happy as there were toys for the kids and pasta and wine for the adults.
I ducked over to Rome to pick up my great mate Huddo who was joining us for a few days from Japan on our way to London. We ate beautiful food, visited Grazia’s winery for a private tour, ate beautiful food, drove into Perugia, ate beautiful food and tried to go to a chocolate factory. It was by appointment only (which we hadn’t done) so we went to the supermarket to buy chocolate instead. I told the girls as Daddy had let them down with the chocolate factory they could choose whatever they liked in the supermarket. 2 x Kinder Surprises later we checked out.Piper and Evie – What a letdown. Dad had bribed us all day with the fact we were going to the chocolate factory. We get there and don’t have a booking, seriously. So he thinks he can make it all better by going to the supermarket. We tried to choose the most expensive thing, is that Kinder Surprise?
After 3 nights in Perugia, Huddo and myself had to duck off to a pressing engagement in London – the FA CUP final, but more about that in the next blog. Ez can take over form here for the last few days in Perugia.
Pipes and Evie – Yes, 3 days of girl only time! We suggested to mum that we move house so King Kong Bundy can’t find us but she voted to stay loyal and wait for him to come back.
Ez – The world’s best Airbnb host continued with her awesome hospitality, inviting the kids and I to a BBQ with her friends. The food was cooked over a charcoal barbie in the garden, lunch included fresh peas and broad beans from the neighbours yard, olive oil from the trees over the fence and 1.5L bottles of wine made by the lady down the road. The kids played in the garden with their new Italian friend Pasquale, entertained the neighbours and had a ball.
Brett – On returning from London my delightful Ryanair flight got diverted to Ancona. I would then have to bus the two hours back to Perugia to pick up the family to drive the 2 hours back to Ancona. It was here we would board our overnight ferry to Split the gateway to our next stop, Montenegro. Arrivederci Italy, we’re sad to leave, it’s been a blast!
For more photos from Italy, check out Erica’s gallery on Firenze, Tuscany and Perugia