Jun 13

The Rundown On the Road – Tuscany, Italy

Ciao friends! When we left off last Monday, we were saying good-bye to Rome and bonjourno to Tuscany! After five glorious days in Rome, we headed to the train station where we would be whisked away to the Tuscany region in less than four hours…and two trains…and seven bags…later.

the rundown-6

WEEK OF MAY 23, 2016


So, once again I had a massive road running issue which was pretty much the same one I had in Rome. Our hotel was on a mountaintop, reachable only by winding, narrow roads, that are impossible to run safely on. This was not going well. However, the hotel had a pool and a gym and I ended up doing a swim and two runs while there. Not what I had in mind but at least I got the workouts in and it felt good to run!

The views were stunning in every direction!

The views were stunning in every direction!

It was very cruel that I was unable to run with this stunning view!


I had what my coach called “land swims” scheduled for a few days and I was able to do them in the gym, with the best view ever.


Of course, the gym was pretty much empty each time I used it so I was able to take some great shots with zero weird looks. #BloggerProblems


The hotel’s information booklet talked about a hiking trail that lead all the way from the mountaintop to the small village of Barga. It was an hour hike one way, so we knew the whole thing wasn’t doable with the boys but, we wanted to go as far as their legs would take them.

Here we go!

Here we go!

As it turned out, their legs were fine but their imaginations were off the charts! They were both so scared of what kind of wild animals might be lurking in the woods that they only ventured a short distance before demanding to turn around.

We thought the sticks would help but...they didn't.

We thought the sticks would help but…they didn’t.

Whose children are these? We obviously need to work on toughening them up! There are far more dangerous animals in our neighborhood (bears and fox anyone?) than in the Italian countryside.


Prior to our journey my dad and stepmom scheduled a cooking class in the town of Lucca. It was incredible! Our chef’s name was Giuseppe (of course) and he was fantastic. It started at his restaurant and market and then he led us on a tour of bakeries and vegetable and fruit stands though out the village, where we gathered all the ingredients we would need to prepare our meal.

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The vegetable and fruit market was astounding! I could spend all day, everyday there picking out fresh ingredients for my meals. It was heavenly. The best part? I bought four bananas, two giant pears and three peaches for four euro. FOUR EURO! You cannot get one basket of strawberries for four euro in my town and they don’t taste half as good. #Criminal

After that amazingness we were lead to an apartment where our cooking adventure would begin. It was like something out of a magazine and I immediately feared for what the boys would do to it!


My name as it appears on my passport…and place card leaf. This is so Pinterest and I’m sure will grace the table at the next dinner at my SIL’s house.

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We had a lot of fun with the utensils, chopped, diced and sliced veggies, herbs and garlic and had an absolute blast. The boys broke nothing, mostly because Mike spent the majority of his time in the apartment living room with them telling them stories. The whole thing was about three hours too long for the boys but it was fun while it lasted and definitely one of the highlights of the trip!


I’m not sure this needs a caption.


Neither does this…


The chef and the hubs.


Our finished product of vegetable risotto and spinach and cheese gnocchi in a bolognese.


Miles said these were the best tomatoes he has ever had. Vaughn is just insane.


The best wine we had in Tuscany was this one:


I cannot find it anywhere remotely near us or anywhere around the globe for less than $200 with shipping. Please help. I need this wine in my life.


The views!

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When we decided to venture into the small village of Barga on the second day, the concierge failed to mention a few things:

  1. Everything is closed until 4pm
  2. There are no taxis

We showed up starving and immediately noticed everything was closed. Luckily there was a lone “pizzeria” open where we feasted on American coffee, double espressos and caprese sandwhiches.


We were not so lucky getting a taxi back to the hotel. It was only because of the amazing grace of a gas station owner, who called the taxi service herself (twice!) that we eventually hitched a ride back. We had to wait over in hour. At a gas station. No grazie.

Can you tell how happy I am?

Can you tell how happy I am? The boys may or may not be playing on someone’s patio.


Where else can you get a bobble head, solar powered Pope and Queen? Of course, this store was closed.


The Tuscany region was beyond my dreams amazing and, may have been my favorite place we visited. However, the best and worst were yet to come in Sorrento. I will need to dedicate at least two posts for that adventure so stay tuned…


How was your week?

Have you ever been stranded without a ride? 


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    The photos
    Your words
    THOSE BOYS and their off the charts imagination (that would definitely have been mine at that age as well).
    <3 <3 <3
    CARLA recently posted…Whats YOUR booster shot?My Profile

    1. LOL!!! Thank you Carla. It’s been so great for me to re-live all of it!

  2. its quite funny that after last weeks post, I gushed to Ron that we need to book an Italian vacation. Ironically, a friend of his just got back from Italy too and was telling him the details at the gym. And now Ron is all let’s go to Italy!! Gotta show him this post now.
    Angela @ Happy Fit Mama recently posted…How to Recover From Hard WorkoutsMy Profile

    1. You are welcome 🙂 Start planning while he still thinks it’s a great idea!

  3. The cooking lesson sounds like so much fun!! What a good dad Mike is for keeping the boys distracted while you learned lol. The food looks so good! Plus waiting over an hour for a taxi?! And having starving boys in a town with no food?! Super Yikes!! Tuscany looks beautiful and I am loving the recaps. Makes me feel as if I am there!!
    Nellie recently posted…10 Easy Home Decor Tips On a BudgetMy Profile

    1. Oh my gosh it was!!! And yes, my husband is a saint although, he showed up for the best part which was EATING the food we spent hours making. He’s no fool!
      Thanks Nellie.

  4. Pretty sure I need to visit Tuscany. Love the pic of you with the knife…lol! But what’s up with nothing opening until 4 pm? When I need to eat, I need to eat!
    Wendy@Taking the Long Way Home recently posted…The Things I Think About When I’m Not Thinking About RunningMy Profile

    1. Luckily the opening late was only in that very small town, otherwise we were constantly surrounded by food. It was heaven.

  5. Wow ! This sounds like it was an amazing trip!! And the food looks so delicious!! it must be so hard to be adjusting to the bland food here!
    Ana recently posted…Enrique Bunbury- El Camino Mas LargoMy Profile

    1. It is!! I went to an Italian restaurant last night and it was so bad. I couldn’t even look at the bread. *sigh* I’m so spoiled!!!

  6. Oh yes, I feel like there is always some crazy disaster when traveling with kids… could have been worse. The hike is hilarious! I wonder what my girls would have thought. Italy is so stunning… I want to go back!

    1. Of course there is and, I’m just glad this one was minimal! The hike killed me. They were like listening for any little sound, waving their sticks around and saying things like “I’m counting to 50 and then we’re turning back!” Crazy.

  7. Looks amazing….That cooking class sounds incredibly fun! We had problems getting cabs in Italy because we were 5 people… many cabs were unwilling to give a ride to more than 4 people… (and you can’t book a hotel room for 5 people…. you need two rooms, which is why we now just air b n b apartments rather pay for two hotel rooms)…. so in other words, a family of larger than 4 is not great for travel…. Looking forward to your next post
    Paria@momontherunsanity.com recently posted…Buckle UpMy Profile

    1. We had some of the same issues since we were traveling with my dad and stepmom too so there was six of us! We tried booking suites but most of the hotels only accommodate four people, like you said. And, we ended up either taking two taxis or having to call ahead for a “van.” So interesting…and somewhat annoying…luckily I just kept drinking and eating 🙂

  8. WOW i’m totally living through you and this trip. Talk about doing all the things I’ve always wanted to do! Italy is a place we have put on the top of our travel list – in fact we were debating over Lake Como and Chile for our honeymooon because my husband’s fav place ever is Italy, and I’ve never been! we ended up in Chile because of the seasons and honestly no complaints. but i know my love of travel, food, culture, europe, and my hubby’s love of italian food and wine will bring us there sooner than later.
    your trip brings back memories of several trips to different parts of europe. i remember small towns in switzerland closing up early, and YES i have been stranded at train/bus/coach stations more than once. but not with twin boys, so high five.
    i’ve always – yes like since i was a little kid watching cooking shows on public television – wanted to do a cooking tour in italy (and france!) so this part looked amazing!!! exactly like i’d imagine. mmmmmm.
    i was also giggling about how you said the workout room being empty because i’ve always noticed the same thing whenever we go out of the country – i will be the only one using the workout room, and sometimes i’ve had to ask them to show me how to turn on the electricity because it hadn’t been used in so long! funny how american that makes me feel… but i know the locals are super fit, i guess it’s just different in the hotels/apartments/etc.
    also giggling at how challenging it can be to run in those mountain towns. when we were in the swiss alps there were some villages that were so picturesque, but my runs were grueling because of the vertical climbs and altitude. how dare i complain though, ya know??? 😀
    we’ll be traveling with an infant soon, so i’m channeling my mother because she took both her babies including me all the over the world starting at 3-6 months old. we won’t be doing international travel quite that early, but i’m excited for when we do!
    thanks for sharing, LOVE all your posts.
    danielle recently posted…WIR – baby room & catching upMy Profile

    1. Thank you so much Danielle! And yes, I encourage everyone to travel with their kids. Sounds like you have a lot of exciting stuff coming up and I know you will enjoy it all!!
      LOL to having to turn on the electricity in some of the gyms!! I seriously thought I would have to do that!!

  9. Such a cool post; I soaked up every word and photo. That wine must have been absolutely incredible. I’m curious to know how much it is up here! Probably way more than $200 but you never know! I’ll keep my eye out for it.
    Suzy recently posted…Mileage MondayMy Profile

  10. Wow Tuscany is beautiful!! I love those mountains and the food and wine just make it sound even more amazing.
    I got stranded a LOT in Europe without a ride, because train strikes. I once was in stranded in Luxembourg for half a day without a ride and was this close to renting a car when the next train came through. Europeans are just so much more laidback on travel and schedules than we are.
    I want that solar powered pope. Not that living in Seattle would do anything for it, but Italians just sell the coolest and most amusing trinkets.
    Laura @ This Runner’s Recipes recently posted…Mile Markers: Variations on the Easy RunMy Profile

    1. Oh yes “laid back” is a great way of putting it Laura! They are like that in almost every sense of the word, which clashed terribly with my type A personality 🙂 Next time I will pick up the solar powered Pope for you!

  11. WOW!!!! The views are so amazing! It just looks SO fun! The cooking class and that fruit and vegetable market look awesome! For some reason I totally didn’t picture your boys as being scared of the woods :). I bet you can hardly believe that the trip is over! I think it is so funny too how you talk about everything being closed at 4. Not as much where we are right now, but when we were staying in the Keys everything closed at 5. This time is insanely early to me. We are totally more night people and there are times we don’t even eat dinner until 8, so 5 is just early :).

    1. It was truly amazing and I did not know my boys would be so scared either!? I think it had more to do with them being in a foreign country because they definitely do not shy away from the woods at home!

  12. This post is pure heaven. Tuscany is simply amazing and your cooking class looked like so much fun + beautiful – love the table setting!! We went to a food and wine pairing lunch in Tuscany and it was to die for. I mean seriously – isn’t the wine incredible? I hope you can get your hands on that bottle! Yes, Tuscany is super sleepy, but such stunning scenery. Love your photos, love everything. I’m ready to book my ticket! ;0
    Natalie recently posted…Erie Marathon Training Recap: When You Have A Hiccup, Breathe Into A Paper Bag + 13 Weeks Till Race DayMy Profile

    1. I absolutely loved Tuscany and wish we stayed one more day…which is the only place on our little tour that I can say that about! The wine, the view, the sleepiness – loved it!!

  13. Oh wow Tuscany looks and sounds amazing!! Definitely a trip to put on my bucket list! A bummer that you couldn’t run those winding roads with gorgeous views! Safety first, for sure! I would love all the fresh produce markets too! Thanks for sharing your trip!
    Kara {MaineGirl2Runs} recently posted…Training, Nutrition and A Blood TestMy Profile

    1. Yes, safety first was a bummer this time but it was REALLY dangerous.
      Thanks for reading and commenting!

  14. This looks like such an incredible journey. I’m glad you had a good time. We’ve had a few serious accidents between runners and drivers on windy roads in NJ so I guess it’s good not to run on them.
    Hollie recently posted…A Few More Weeks of RestMy Profile

    1. That really scares me! I always cross the road when I’m at home and have to navigate a sharp or blind curve when I’m running. I take zero chances now!!
      Thanks Hollie and be careful out there 🙂

  15. That meal looks delicious! Impressive. I remember reading about Lucca – adding that to my list of place to visit when we go back to Italy. Because I must go back. And drink that wine.
    Dana recently posted…Humankind is better than thisMy Profile

    1. Of course you must go back! Lucca was such a perfect little village and I was so sad we did not have more time there. And, the cooking class!! It’s actually called Extra Virgin Cooking Class and Giuseppe was so great. It’s really a must.

  16. I am loving living vicariously through you. Someday I will get there…just wish it was for my 10 year anniversary! Enough dwelling on that, we are using the Go Ape certificates on our 10 year anniversary weekend away….an hour away. Yay! I jest, kind of 😉 How freaking cool to have a cooking class there? You guys know how to do it right!
    Sue @ This Mama Runs for Cupcakes recently posted…I’m alive!My Profile

    1. OMG that is great!! I hope you love it as much as I did!!
      And, I’m sure someday you WILL get to Italy and I hope it’s kid free 🙂

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