For some reason, Italy has been a place that has escaped my holidaying 'done' list until recently. Bar a quick jaunt through it during an interrailing tour when I was a student (we came in from France, stopped in Rome at a camp site and another in a very smelly August Venice before exiting to go to Croatia. Not without stopping in Llubliajna simply because three cute American boys we met on the train said that that was what they were doing.) Our wants then were certainly very different to what I wanted from an Italian break now, and when I was newly married, my husband of 24 hours and I flew to Pisa for 5 days under the Tuscan sun.
Obviously, this trip was going to be a lot lot different. Whilst not strictly a honeymoon, (more a long break, or a 'minimoon' to stave off any pouting lips from yours spoilt truly), it certainly was a magical few days that exceeded our expectations even discounting our natural high from our wedding. We did all things touristy whilst there (wine tasting, Siena, Florence and the Uffizi - or the Ufuzzerino according to my husband), but ultimately chilled out and well and truly broke our wedding diets. For example, courtesy of BA's Club Lounge, my husband had a croissant on toast for breakfast before boarding our flight, and the first thing we ate when disembarking was a pizza. Having been taunted by the smell of fast food on my commute home every day of said diet in the run up to my vows, this pizza was the best pizza I have ever had the fortune to eat.
On the subject of food, a topic very dear these newlyweds' hearts, I can safely say that I think it is nigh on impossible to eat badly in this part of the world. Beforehand, as a planner, I researched as much as I possibly could into places to eat in Tuscany. I did so either through tripadvisor, but mainly through friends (a new job and impending nuptials stopped the usual holiday spreadsheet creation and internet scouring). This meant that when we landed, I didn't have a list of things to do and places to go as all my friends had said 'oh just eat anywhere and everywhere you can in Tuscany. The food is delicious.' How right they were. For example, the aforementioned best pizza ever was from the first restaurant that hubblee and I chanced upon in the busy tourist trap of San Gimignano - the town which we were staying just outside.
It was a great spot to stay and our hotel, Villasanpaolo, was very picturesque with a fabulous spa. My only niggle was that our room was a little basic, perhaps pushing a bit dated, but everything worked as it should and the overall price was good value. Given it was just after our wedding, hubby and I were quite happy to treat ourselves, but we soon found Tuscany in the summer to be extortionate. Additionally, during my brief research of hotels, I found the leap in price between four and five star hotels to Belanger,with four star hotels not being particularly cheap either.
Villasanpaolo was ra commended on the website www.citalia.com. a friend, Mr. F., had told us that this group pick great Italian hotels and that it was worth looking at for any pizza/pasta based trip. for this jaunt, hubby and I were very happy with the pizza on offer at the vast and delicious hotel buffet each day, always served with a spectacular view of rolling Tuscan hills. The swimming pool also served the same view, even with a glimpse of San Ginignno and its towers, along with a far too drinkable white. The staff were friendly and indulged my husband's rusty Italian. But by far its best attribute was its location. It was centrally located for easy day trips around the area, with Florence, Siena and Pisa all about 45 minutes away.
My pictures this week are all aimed at doing the beauty of the place justice. Italy is simply stunning even before the extraordinary architecture of Florence and Siena are taken on board. And this is only a small part of the country. I have every intention of returning to see the lakes, Rome again, as well as having bolognese in Bologna. I hope you enjoy this Italian blog.
Top 5 Tuscan To Dos
1) Eat Gelato at every opportunity
2) Buying a ticket in advance to the Uffizi, Florence
3) Try olive oil tasting as well as wine tasting
4) Have a competition to see who can count the most towers in San Gimignano
5) Eat Gelato at every opportunity